Michigan poker players will likely have to wait until 2021 before they see the very first legal hands dealt in online poker, according to a report from The Detroit News.
Brandt Iden, the sponsor of the bill, said that Michigan won't procure any significant tax benefits until online gambling is launched, "Until we're fully integrated online, I don't think we'll be able to capitalize on revenue. But from a consumer protection standpoint, from getting players interested, certainly getting up and going in person is helpful."
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed Iden's bill into law a week before Christmas last year. The bill made online gambling of all forms legal, including in-person sports betting and online poker. In 2018, former Gov. Rick Snyder vetoed a similar bill, who said he did not want to push away the market from the state lottery, which was the main source of funds for Michigan's school system. Whitmer also shared the same sentiments but reasoned that the 8% tax rate proposed by the legislation by Republican Rep. Brandt Iden was very low to offset any potential losses to the public education system. Whitmer wanted a 40% tax rate.
Regulators estimate that the rules that will govern the online gambling activities in the Wolverine State will be completed by next year. By the time these rules are finalized, then the licensing procedures can begin and the operators would be allowed to launch their products.
Spokeswoman for the Michigan Gaming Control Board Mary Kay Bean said that the target is determined by how long it took to create the rules for other gambling sectors in the past. She added that the retail sports betting regulations will be implemented much sooner and casinos are expected to launch these services in the upcoming months, "For in-person sports betting at the Detroit casinos, the goal for launch is this spring."
"The MGCB is following the regular rules process, which provides opportunities for stakeholder and public input - holding a public hearing and offering a public comment period - and to file a regulatory impact statement. All of these elements are missed when emergency rules are approved."
In other American states, the online sector makes up a significant portion of the betting market. In Pennsylvania, online sports bookies garnered $8.4 million in revenue, while their retail counterparts made $3 million. In New Jersey, one of the nation's biggest gambling markets, $468.8 million out of the total $562.7 million of sports betting revenue actually came from the online market.
In sports betting, the casinos are keen to get started, hoping to take bets just in time for the men's college basketball tournament called March Madness.
Penn National has made steps to launch its sportsbook and is just awaiting the green light, while the MGM Grand Detroit has already opened a sports lounge that will become its sportsbook area. Also, the Firekeepers Hotel and Casino in Battle Creek are ready to open their sportsbook section, having had it in their drawing board for the past 15 months.