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Michigan Online Poker Likely Delayed Until 2021

Worst-Case Scenario For The State's Launch Is Sometime Around The Super Bowl

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Despite reports in the fall that said Michigan online poker could be launched in November, one of the more recent meetings of the Michigan Gaming Control Board now point to 2021 as a more likely target date.

Gaming regulators submitted rules for the launch of online gambling on Oct. 6, but the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules have yet to return and approve them, according to a report from Legal Sports Report.

Executive Director Richard Kalm said during the meeting that there likely isn’t enough time left in the current legislative session to ensure a launch this year.

“We’re counting session days and it doesn’t look like we’re going to get 15 session days in if we just let this run out to the end of the year,” said Kalm. “So conceivably, it would have to roll over to the next session in January and we would start another 15-day clock.”

The 15-day period referred to by Kalm is in reference to the rule that states the JCAR has 15 legislative sessions to act on the rules or send them back to the regulator. They have only had the rules for three days and there are just 10 sessions left on the 2020 legislative calendar.

There is still hope for passage this year as the JCAR could waive the remaining time and send the rules back early. The process was already requested by the committee, but nothing has happened yet.

It seems like the worst-case scenario for the launch would be sometime around the 2021 Super Bowl.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed a bill into law at the end of 2019 that legalized online sports betting and other forms of online gambling, including poker. The original timeline had its rollout coming sometime in 2021, but the COVID-19 pandemic caused the state’s brick-and-mortar gambling industry to shut down and wreaked havoc on the state’s budget.

Eventually those casinos and sports books reopened at a reduced capacity, but the budget shortfalls caused lawmakers to look into expediting the launch of online gaming, which is expected to bring $650 million in annual tax revenue to the state.