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Michigan prepares for online sports betting by 'late fall'

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

Sports gambling fanatics soon could be able to save the gas.

The head of the Michigan Gaming Control Board said this week that online gambling and sports betting could go live by "late fall," a bumped-up timeline amid the COVID-19 pandemic that has casinos across the state operating under significantly limited capacity.

Online gambling and sports betting in Michigan could have a bumped-up timeline amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Richard S. Kalm, executive director of the Michigan Gaming Control Board, oversaw a public hearing this week to discuss proposed rules for Internet gaming and sports betting. The final proposed laws are expected to be submitted to the Michigan Office of Administrative Hearings and Rules and the Legislative Service Bureau in the coming days, possibly by the end of the month.

From there, the rules go to the state legislature's Joint Committee on Administrative Rules, with a decision expected in October.

Acquiring and approving licenses, for both tribal and commercial casinos, is the final step, possibly sometime in November.

"The licensing timetable also depends on the applicants and their delivery of completely and timely applications to us," Kalm said.

Michigan has 26 casinos, 23 of which are tribal-run, and the other three in Detroit — MGM Grand, Greektown and MotorCity. In mid-March, MGM Grand, Greektown and MotorCity opened their brick-and-mortar sports books, just days before sports shut down across the globe during the early stages of COVID-19.

Those were the first sportsbooks to open in the state; the tribal casinos followed sporadically. At the time, state leaders expected an online component rolled out sometime in 2021, perhaps early in the year.

Casinos were shut down within a week of the Detroit sportsbooks opening — costing the state of city of Detroit hundreds of millions in tax revenue — and only began to reopen in early August, with just 15% capacity allowed. Thousands of slot machines across the state were shut down to create social-distancing.

The state already offers some online gaming through the Michigan Lottery.

tpaul@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @tonypaul1984