The Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) is keen on getting its iGaming industry up and running as soon as possible.
However, there are new challenges that keep popping up and slowing down the launch.
MGCB Executive Director Richard Kalm pointed out that the Federal Bureau Investigation (FBI) is currently standing in the way of Michigan’s plans to launch its legal online gambling industry in 2020.
Kalm said that the MGCB is currently waiting for the FBI’s go signal on the state’s online gaming statute that deals with the fingerprinting of applicants for licenses.
The MGCB has relied on the help of the FBI for checking fingerprints against a national database. However, the FBI recently informed the MGCB that they could no longer help out due to the board’s statute not supporting this activity.
The MGCB duly revised the language in Michigan’s Lawful Internet Gaming Act of 2019 as directed by the FBI, but Kalm stated the FBI has yet to approve the amended language. Without the FBI’s approval, the MGCB can still view state records during background checks, but are barred from accessing federal records.
Kalm admitted that the FBI’s reticence could potentially impact the state’s legal gaming launch timeline, but stated that they are working with the FBI to find an expeditious solution. The MGCB is currently working with the Michigan State Police for their background checks.
2021 Online Gaming Launch More Likely
Michigan’s retail sports betting industry launched in March 2020. Initially, online sports betting was scheduled for an October 2020 launch but Kalm appears to be less confident about the current timeline. If things go as per plan, online betting should be launched by the end of 2020.
Michigan’s upcoming online gambling launch has already caught the attention of numerous suppliers, operators, and vendors. On May 15, MGCB opened their license application period for suppliers; they did the same for operators and vendors on June 30, 2020.
Kalm reported that there are currently 11 operators, 15 suppliers, and 8 vendors with pending applications, but refused to name any applicants—the applicants’ names will only be disclosed once they are approved by the MGCB.
While a launch before 2020 ends is technically possible, industry observers and analysts believe that a 2021 launch for Michigan’s online gaming industry is more likely.