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US – Michigan asks for feedback on draft laws for online betting

By - 7 May 2020

With the state of Michigan looking at a deficit of $1.5bn to its budget, online sports betting and gaming could launch in Michigan by the Autumn if emergency rules an be used to speed up the process, hurdle several bureaucratic steps and launch at a time when the state is struggling for revenue.

The Michigan Gaming Control Board has published draft laws and is asking for feedback from operators over the next fortnight.

John Pappas, Spokesperson for trade group IDEA, which has collaborated on the regulations with the MGCB, said: “I think anywhere between September and October is a reasonable time frame, but it is not known if the governor will now allow for emergency rules. Several stakeholders are pushing for it, given the current economic crisis. The governor should recognise the need to take any steps that can bring new revenue to the state.”

Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed into law a bill allowing sports betting, online gaming Daily Fantasy Sports, and online poker in Michigan towards the end of 2019. Land-based sports betting opened in Michigan just days before the coronavirus-closures kicked in in mid-March. The three commercial casinos generated just $105,548 in retail sports betting revenue in March before the shut downs.

Mr. Pappas highlighted that the proposed legislation has lent on laws in New Jersey and Indiana.
“Michigan didn’t try and reinvent the wheel here,” Pappas said. “That helps the industry as they are familiar with the framework, and obviously that helped the regulator get these rules written.”

The license application fee will cost just $1,000 with a $500 renewal fee.

Meanwhile horse racing third-party facilitators wanting a license to offer advance deposit wagering in Michigan must comply with terms and conditions established by Michigan Gaming Control Board Executive Director Richard S. Kalm in an order issued this week.

“The order should enable the state’s horse racing industry to gain new followers through ADW and maintain protection for citizens who wish to place wagers on live and simulcast pari-mutuel racing in Michigan using their mobile phones,” Mr. Kalm said. “Before ADW can go live in Michigan, the race meeting licensee and the certified horsemen’s organisations also must agree to a contract with a provider.”

In December 2019, Michigan’s Horse Racing Law of 1995 was amended to allow a race meeting licensee to use contracted third-party firms to facilitate wagering on live and simulcast pari-mutuel racing. A bettor creates an account with the third-party facilitator and can use a mobile device or computer to place wagers on pari-mutuel races using the money on deposit.

Currently, live and simulcast pari-mutuel wagering is authorised at Northville Downs racetrack, which offers standardbred racing. The track was ordered to remain closed until May 28, under Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s Executive Order 2020-69 due to the COVID-19 health emergency.

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