The legalization of online gambling in Michigan resulted from an extensive campaign by proponents of sports betting and gambling. Before this happened, gambling was a gray-sector activity without adequate regulation. When Michigan legalized it, it saw its tax income soar.
Here’s how online gaming became legal in the Great Lakes State and who led the charge.
December 2016: Senator introduces measure to legalize
Republican Senator Mike Kowall tabled a bill in December 2016 to allow online casinos to operate on the territory of the state. Tribal and commercial casinos would be able to offer online gambling if the bill passed, but it didn’t.
This didn’t deter Kowall
The senator resubmitted the bill with some changes in the spring of 2017. In September, the measure was officially introduced by another Republican member of the government, Brandt Iden. It was approved in December.
Senate approves online gambling in 2018
Legislators returned to Lansing, Michigan, and took the bill up in the fall of 2018. The Senate approved it right before Christmas. It found its way to Republican Governor Rick Snyder’s desk. Snyder vetoed the bill, expressing concern that it would affect Michigan’s School Aid Fund and the iLottery.
Bill signed into law in late 2019
Iden doubled down on his efforts in March 2019, showing support for the Lawful Sports Betting Act. It was approved by the House in late October and by the Senate in December. Whitmer signed it into law just over a week later.
A few casinos planned to launch in 2020, but then the pandemic struck, compelling them to temporarily suspend operations. This affected the gaming industry in Michigan.
The MGCB, the state authority, scheduled launches of online casinos in Michigan on January 22 last year, and they were on track. Gamblers in Michigan can now access a number of reputable, high-quality casinos online from both their mobile devices and computers at home.
The First Casinos: BetRivers, DraftKings, BetMGM
BetRivers was created two years ago through a collaboration between the Little River Casino Resort and Rush Street Interactive. Its branded Michigan online casino launched on January 22, 2021. There is a Michigan-based sportsbook on the site as well. The operator’s entry into the online gambling market of Michigan has been successful, although it’s not the biggest or most established player.
Soon after the bill was passed into law, DraftKings entered Michigan’s now-regulated market. DraftKings’ online gaming platform is completely legal and regulated, established through a business partnership with Bay Mills Resort & Casino in Michigan. The operator has some interesting promotional offers and a decent loyalty program, but not as many games as some other operators.
This operator also launched on January 22, 2021, becoming part of a flourishing gambling industry and lively community. They came to the state through a collaboration between Entain and MGM. The operator faces some stiff competition, but they attract players with a number of unique features.
The concept of responsible gambling lies at the core of Michigan’s gaming industry. Regulators, casinos, and industry-related websites are committed to reducing risks via education, innovation, and better safety measures.