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Effects Online Poker Legalization Will Have on Michigan

Effects Online Poker Legalization Will Have on Michigan

By    |   Wednesday, 06 May 2020 10:10 AM

Michigan has become one of the latest states in America to open the door to online gambling.

The ruling, which was made by the state at the end of last year, means operators of online poker sites and online casinos will soon be able to service customers in cities such as Detroit.

However, despite the change to legislation being made several months ago - after Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed HB 4311 into law - Michigan has yet to give the green light to any online casino or poker operators to start actually launching their sites in the state.

What will be the impact of the change to online gambling regulations in Michigan?

Slow start to legal and regulated sports wagering in the state

March was the first month of legal and regulated sports wagering in Michigan - though not online - but the effect of the coronavirus crisis has been keenly felt by the industry all over the world. It was on March 11 that land-based sportsbooks were able to start operating in the state. Just a few days later, however, they were forced to close their doors due to the growing pandemic.

Data released by the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) shows that those few days of legalized sports betting in the state generated $84,695 in revenue for the MGM Grand Detroit. Penn National’s Greentown Casino recorded revenues of $15,904 to sit in second spot behind the MGM Grand Detroit, with third place going to the MotorCity Casino, which made $4,949.

It is hard to draw any conclusions from such a short period of trading, although a combined $3,989.73 was paid in taxes by sports betting operators in the state during this time. It seems to be the case there is an appetite for sports betting in Michigan, though it is really too soon to tell.

Why is there still no online poker available in Michigan?

Online casinos and poker sites are booming due to the coronavirus crisis as lockdown conditions have forced land-based casinos to close. Michigan is risking being left behind by other states across America as a result of failing to allow online casinos or poker sites to open.

As DogSlots Editors say: "Michigan told a bold step to legalize online gambling at the back end of 2019. But since then, progress in actually allowing companies to start operating in the state has been slow. Action is needed in Michigan now, especially with the pandemic ongoing."

New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Nevada and West Virginia were the first five states to legalize online sports betting, poker sites and online casinos. But since the change to the law in Michigan last December, it appears very little is being done to open gambling up to people.

The delay is said to be due to the need to put regulatory procedures in place. Mary Kay Bean, a communications specialist for the MGCB, told The Detroit News that the launch of the first online casinos and poker sites in Michigan could take up to a year from the law being changed.

Which poker sites are best placed to capitalize in Michigan?

PokerStars - which is owned by gaming giant The Stars Group - might well be the first online poker site to go live in Michigan. The site was the first online gambling operator of its kind to go live in Pennsylvania and has already started putting things in place to do likewise in Michigan.

In January, PokerStars posted a tweet that read: "We intend to seek approval to offer our online gaming products in Michigan if and when the state regulates and establishes a reasonable licensing regime. We will provide more information as soon as it is available."

Already one of the biggest online poker companies in the world, PokerStars seems set to assert its dominance of this section of the gambling industry even further in the coming years.

This is because the internet poker site seems to be better prepared for changes in legislation across the United States than any of its major competitors in the online gambling sector.

Next steps for online gambling in Michigan

What will happen with online casinos is harder to predict, since it appears it is going to take some time until Michigan's regulatory procedures are in place for them to start operations.

However, GAN - which is a leading business to business iGaming software developer - has signaled it intends to team up with the Sault Tribe of Chippewa Indians. The aim of their partnership is to launch online gambling operations in the state of Michigan in the near future.

In a statement released on March 27, GAN's chief commercial officer Jeff Berman said: "Michigan has long represented an attractive market with both internet sports and internet casino gaming now regulated. We are incredibly excited to bring real money internet gambling to Michigan, which remains at the core of our mission, strategy and purpose in the United States."

GAN has predicted online gambling could be worth up to $836 million within four years of launching in Michigan, so operators will be keen to secure themselves a slice of the pie.

They are still waiting for the necessary regulatory guidelines to be put into action, though.

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Wednesday, 06 May 2020 10:10 AM
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