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Game on: Online sports betting and gaming in Michigan starts Friday

The MGCB expects to authorize additional operators and platform providers in the coming days and weeks.

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Gaming Control Board authorized nine operators to begin online sports betting or both online gaming and sports betting at noon on Friday, Jan. 22.

“The Michigan Gaming Control Board and the state’s commercial and tribal casinos will begin a new era Jan. 22 with the launch of regulated online gaming and sports betting,” said Richard S. Kalm, MGCB executive director. “Michigan residents love sports and, judging by inquiries we’ve received, eagerly anticipate using mobile devices to place bets through the commercial and tribal casinos. Online gaming and sports betting will provide the casinos with new ways to engage with customers while the state and local communities will benefit from taxes and payments on wagering revenue.”

The operators authorized to begin online offerings Jan. 22 are:

  • Bay Mills Indian Community
  • Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians
  • Greektown Casino
  • Hannahville Indian Community
  • Keweenaw Bay Indian Community
  • Little River Band of Ottawa Indians
  • MGM Grand Detroit
  • MotorCity Casino
  • Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians

The MGCB expects to authorize additional operators and platform providers in the coming days and weeks as staff review other submissions to ensure they meet the state’s requirements.

Tax Allocations
The tribes and casinos that will start online sports betting and gaming will need to adhere to the following tax allocations: 

For the Detroit casinos: 

  • 30% to the city of Detroit
  • 5% to the Michigan Agriculture Equine Industry Development Fund (up to $3 million per year from each tax source)
  • 65% to the state Internet Sports Betting Fund or the state Internet Gaming Fund

For the tribal casinos:

  • Online Sports Betting: Payments by tribes are allocated to the Internet Sports Betting Fund (90%) and the Michigan Strategic Fund (10%)
  • Internet Gaming: Payments by tribes are allocated 20% to local jurisdiction governing body for services, 70% to the state Internet Gaming Fund and 10% to the Michigan Strategic Fund.

The tax and payment rate for online sports betting is 8.4 percent, according to the MGCB. The tax and payment rate for internet gaming ranges from about 20 percent to 28 percent.

Other money collected under these acts will be used for the Compulsive Gaming Prevention Fund, the First Responder Presumed Coverage Fund and the State School Aid Fund.

Gun Lake Casino in Wayland is still working on its online gambling application. Jose Flores, the General Manager, said he does not believe the new online ability will hurt the business of the sports book at the casino. Rather, he thinks it will add more options to gamblers. 

"So, we see online gambling and online sports betting as being complimentary to our services," said Flores, "not necessarily a competitor to our service. When they want more of a convenience option, something where there may be they are time constrained, it may be during the week after work, or they may be doing something looking for some entertainment on a holiday weekend where they're not necessarily close to our product. They can log on to the casino, online casino product, and online sports betting, and still be part of our universe and still participate in gaming that way."

He hopes to get approval from the Michigan Gaming Control Board soon. 

Meanwhile, Little River Casino in Manistee has partnered with BetRivers.com for their online gambling and sports betting options. 

In Michigan, online sports betting companies have to partner with a land base property, like a casino. Richard Schwartz, the president of BetRivers, believes that actually puts Michigan in a good spot. 

"Michigan is the only state that authorize online casinos, which will generate most of the tax revenues for the state, but also offer a huge variety of players," said Schwartz, "For example, in sports betting 95 percent of most of the sites are males. On our site, half the players are female on the casino side, because we track the casino audience. I think there's a big growth opportunity to engage young players, older players, male, female, and provide a safe environment that's regulated and managed safely."

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