Online Sports Gambling, Casino Games in Michigan Could Start in Mid-January

Posted on: December 9, 2020, 09:47h. 

Last updated on: December 9, 2020, 10:17h.

Michigan residents looking to place a bet on the home team or play casino games from the comfort of their own home could get their chance by mid-January.

Last week, Michigan lawmakers agreed to allow casinos to offer online sports gambling and iGaming.

Firekeepers Casino
The sportsbook at FireKeepers Casino in Battle Creek, Mich., was the first tribal-run sportsbook to open in Michigan. Michigan’s commercial and tribal casinos will start offering online gaming early next year. (Image: FireKeepers Casino)

“We estimate four to six weeks, but it will depend on applicants getting the required information to us,” said Mary Kay Bean, the communications specialist for the Michigan Gaming Control Board, to “The launch date will depend on many things, including how quickly and completely applicants supply the MGCB with outstanding information. Operators and platform providers couldn’t fulfill some MGCB requirements until the rules were filed, which happened Dec. 2.”

Next Steps

Michigan’s casinos, both tribal and commercial, are navigating through the new rules to get ready for whenever they get the green light.

The legislation has to pass, which it has, and then you’ve got to work through compliance and get everything up and running,” said Jim Kahler, the executive director of the Center of Sports Administration at Ohio University, to

“It’s a fair amount of work to get the logistics worked out. All the sports gambling companies want to make sure they’re 100 percent compliant and they’re following all the rules of the state. The one thing that I have come to appreciate is that one size does not fit all. Every state is going to have its own nuances to the way the bills have been written.”

Jim Wise, the vice president of marketing at FireKeepers Casino in Battle Creek, Mich., said, “We know what you know,” about a potential starting date. Rolling out sports gambling and iGaming at the same time is a tall task, he acknowledged.

“This has been a major initiative – even bigger than some folks think. A number of other states have brought on sports, and then iCasino, in separate projects,” he said. “I appreciate all that Michigan Gaming is going through right now to roll out major new initiatives, like sports and casino, but also to do so with their work multiplied by 10x because of all the tribal casinos now that they need to get licensed and then get them up to speed. There’s really a lot happening.”

Major Impact

Whenever it starts, offering online slot machines or the chance to bet on a game will be a major boon for casinos who have suffered through the pandemic. Because of COVID-19 rates, Detroit’s commercial casinos are closed on order of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D). On Tuesday, the closures were extended through Dec. 20. While some of the tribal-run casinos have remained open, there have been fewer guests.

The ability to play at home should create badly needed revenue.

Most of the action is really with mobile sports gambling,” Kahler said. “I was doing some research on one of the states, and 80 percent of the gambling is done online. I can do it right from my La-Z-Boy while watching the game.”

Wise said FireKeepers’ sportsbook, which became the state’s first tribal-run sportsbook when it opened on June 22, has been thriving because of the combination of football season and the commercial casino closures. The start of online sports and casino gaming should only deliver more revenue once they’re up and running.

“This isn’t as easy as a brick-and-mortar, where you’d say, ‘Well, you can open. We just won’t have this certain restaurant ready or we’ll have a section of the slots closed off,’ or something of that nature,” Wise said. “This is online. You’re either ready to go or you’re not.”