Michigan mobile making progress

Amid a year of unforeseen roadblocks to revving up its sports wagering engines, the state of Michigan remains hopeful for one last shift into high gear before the end of 2020.

The state’s Gaming Control Board is in the process of adopting proposed rules for Internet gaming and sports betting, with board executive director Richard Kalm overseeing a public hearing in late September that set some of the final approval steps into motion.

Kalm told the Detroit News that a “late fall” goal for online launch was possible, pending such approval and the return of licensing applications for online wagering.

When contacted by Gaming Today, board communications specialist Mary Kay Bean said that the end of November was the latest timetable projection. Bean said the state’s regulatory affairs officer is reviewing a report from Michigan’s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules before the state’s Administrative Rules Division eventually certifies the process.

The sets of actions are a ray of light in a cloudy year that was supposed to celebrate sports wagering in the state. Michigan boasts 26 casinos, including three in metropolitan Detroit. The state began in-person sports wagering less than a week before the coronavirus pandemic resulted in this spring’s near-nationwide shutdown.

Michigan’s Detroit casinos were not allowed to reopen until August and were forced to do so with 15% capacity limits. The desire, then, to speed up an original online launch timeline of the first quarter of 2021 increased as summer bled into autumn.

“We are hoping that the end of November sees our launch, but again, that also depends on the licensing process,” Bean said. “We’re working on that in tandem (with the rules approvals).”

The final approval and certification from the rules division that precedes the licensing process could be completed by the end of the month.

Elsewhere around the Midwest …

In Colorado, optimism is growing for the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook bringing its NFL SuperContest to that state for a portion of the 2020 NFL season. As previously reported by Gaming Today, the book was hoping for a Week 9 launch of the spread-picking pool, but weekly game-selection contests had not been approved by the Colorado Limited Gaming Control Commission.

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But amended rules for the state are on the table for discussion at a commission meeting this Thursday, and detailed descriptions of pool-style events are on the agenda. Given the state’s overwhelmingly positive first few months of results on the wagering front, approval of the pool rules would appear to be inevitable, barring an unexpected hiccup.

In Iowa, all administrative eyes remain on the Jan. 1, 2021 expiration of an in-person requirement to register for a mobile sports wagering account. But that protocol has not dampened the state’s appetite for betting.

September saw Iowa blast its previous monthly record handle by more than $10 million after reports of $72.4 million being wagered last month. Never had the Hawkeye State of 3.17 million people surpassed $60 in handle in a single month.

The figures lend credence to earlier estimations from casino leaders in the state that the delay of the Big Ten Conference’s entry into college football season would not hinder wagering action. The league is scheduled to begin play Oct. 24.

Several weeks ago, Gaming Today mentioned the efforts of a Nebraska group’s attempts to get legalization of casino gambling on the November general election ballots.

The sweat equity of Keep the Money in Nebraska’s collection of more than 475,000 signatures will result in putting the possibility of legal gambling on the ballot, the state’s Supreme Court ruled. Nebraska Secretary of State Bob Evnen had blocked the proposals from reaching the ballots in recent weeks, saying the group of proposals failed to comply with a single-subject rule in the state constitution.

But by a 4-3 vote, the high court sided with the pro-gambling group, thus putting three ballot initiatives in play for a statewide vote Nov. 3 that would allow Nebraska horse racing tracks to host casino activities.

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