By the end of December, Michigan casinos could launch online casino games and sports betting, as soon as state lawmakers waive the remaining time to review the proposed licensing rules.
The 10-member Joint Committee on Administrative Rules will effectively OK the new regulations by waiving the review time, said committee chairman, Republican Senator Pete Lucido. The move will come almost a year after the Legislature and Governor Whitmer legalized internet gaming and sports betting.
Beginning last spring, sports bettors were able to place in-person bets at casinos. But internet poker, online casino games, and mobile sports betting are on hold until the 24 tribal casinos and three commercial casinos in Detroit, as well as operators such as FanDuel and PokerStars, receive licenses.
“Everyone wants to get this going,” said Lucido, of Macomb County’s Shelby Township. “This is long overdue at this point. Internet gambling is being done in other states. We’re losing out on the opportunity.”
Lucido also noted that Detroit’s three casinos, which were all ordered shut by Governor Whitmer due to fear of the coronavirus, would benefit from mobile gambling options.
“When we hear that the waiver request was approved by Joint Committee on Administrative Rules, we’re hopeful that online sports betting and gaming can begin this year,” said Mary Kay Bean, spokeswoman for the Michigan Gaming Control Board.
Michigan’s Poker Rooms Shutdown
At least two Detroit poker rooms were on track to reopen in September, following the easing of Covid-19 restrictions. However, in mid-November, Governor Gretchen Whitmer laid down new Covid-19 restrictions across the state. That included once again shutting down Detroit’s three commercial casinos.
Along with closing the casinos, Whitmer also forced colleges, high schools, indoor dining, and movie theaters to shut down. The restrictions mean that the casinos, along with their poker rooms, will be able to reopen no earlier than December 9.
The good news for gamblers is, 18 out of the 24 tribal casinos have opted to remain open. Among the tribal casinos remaining open are Firekeepers in Battle Creek, Gun Lake in Wayland, and Soaring Eagle in Mount Pleasant.
The Gun Lake Tribe issued this statement; “Gun Lake Casino is confident in our play-it-safe initiative, a well-thought-out safety plan initially implemented during the casino’s re-opening in June. Gun Lake Casino is an essential business to the Gun Lake Tribe and to the local community we serve. We’re proud to provide healthcare benefits and financial stability for more than 900 team members, which will continue during this time.”
However, Gun Lake will not have food or bar service, and most table games, including the poker room, will remain closed.
The jointly operated Soaring Eagle Casino in Mount Pleasant and Saganing Eagles Landing Casino in Standish will also remain open despite Governor Whitmer’s latest declaration.
“We do not believe that closing … will reduce the spread of the coronavirus,” said the Soaring Eagle on its website. “Should new information emerge indicating otherwise, we will review this decision. We will continue to review protocols in all areas of our operation and make adjustments as deemed appropriate.”
However, the table games and poker rooms at the Soaring Eagle and the Saganing Eagles Landing Casino are closed until further notice.
Two Online Poker Giants Lined Up for Michigan
So far, PokerStars Michigan and Partypoker Michigan appear to be lined up for a launch, as soon as possible.
The world’s largest online poker website, PokerStars, already operates in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Fortunately, Michigan poker players can expect PokerStars MI to launch under the license of the Odawa Casino Resort in Petoskey, Michigan.
Partypoker is one of the world’s most popular online poker brands. Partypoker NJ launched in 2013, and will launch in Pennsylvania very soon.
Partypoker MI will likely launch under the license of the MGM Grand Detroit. Partypoker’s parent company GVC Holdings is partnered with MGM Resorts under the Roar Digital brand for online gaming.