Michigan opens online gambling, betting application window


Michigan’s online gambling and sports betting hopefuls have officially been invited to submit their license applications, while operators continue to forge the ties to make their local operations a success.

On Wednesday, the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) announced that it had begun accepting applications for online gaming and sports betting operator licenses from the state’s commercial and tribal casino operators. The casinos’ online technology partners have also been cleared to submit vendor registration applications.

MGCB executive director Richard Kalm urged interested parties to submit their paperwork “soon” to give the regulator sufficient time to “conduct investigations and work with them on internal controls, technical standards, lab certifications and other requirements.”

Michigan legislators approved online gambling and sports betting legislation last December and the first retail wagering operations made their debuts in early March, only to be shut down days later along with the casinos’ other operations due to COVID-19. (Many tribal casinos have since reopened but Detroit’s three commercial casinos remain dormant.)

This week, Kalm said the state expects to launch both online gambling and betting “by late 2020 or early 2021,” emphasizing again that the timely submission of applications would make it “more likely” that the launches will occur before 2020’s in the books.

In the meantime, the wheeling and dealing twixt local casino operators and out-of-state betting operators continues unabated. On Wednesday, European betting tech provider Kambi Group announced a retail and online betting partnership with the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi’s Four Winds Casinos.

The tribe operates three casinos in New Buffalo, Dowagiac and Hartford (plus a fourth property in Indiana that apparently isn’t part of the deal). The pact will start with retail wagering at these three venues, with online to follow.

Meanwhile, online betting operator PointsBet has broken new ground by signing a gaming partnership with the Detroit Tigers. Major League Baseball has signed multiple gaming partnerships but the Tigers are MLB’s first individual franchise to sign on with a gambling operator. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.

The deal will allow PointsBet lots of branding opportunities through the Tigers’ Comerica Park and across the Detroit Tigers Radio Network. Chris Granger, an exec with the Tigers’ parent organization Illitch Holdings, said the team looked forward to “the fan-friendly enhancements this will bring to the game-day experience in and around Comerica Park for years to come.”