The topic of Michigan online casinos stirred up the pot right at the start of the new year, following a legislative roller coaster in the state. One of the last actions Gov. Rick Snyder took before he left office on Jan. 1, was to veto the bill that was meant to legalize online gaming. But with new Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, MI online casinos has once again become a possibility. Michigan legislation and the role of the Michigan iLottery could determine the future for online casinos and even MI sports betting in 2019.
MI iLottery Commands The Online Gaming Market
The case of MI online gaming is not a matter of whether it should be legal, but of who should be allowed to profit from it. Some form of online gambling has been legal for well over four years now, since the launch of the Michigan iLottery.
Yet, it’s too soon to put Michigan in the same sentence as the other states that legalized online gambling. Since November 2014, the MI iLottery has expanded from Keno and scratch-offs to an entire selection of instant-win online games, but it currently doesn’t go beyond that point. And while casinos are restricted by law from launching online gambling operations, the Michigan Lottery isn’t.
Now it may be only a matter of time until new governor Gretchen Whitmer signs the bill to remove the MI iLottery’s monopoly on the online gaming market. Currently, the MI Lottery has over 30 different instant-win games and despite the claiming these are based on scratch-offs and pull-tab tickets, the reality is all too different. All the games are operated via a button, which instantly puts the MI Online Lottery games closer to online casino games than lottery tickets.
There might already be a precedent for the state lottery overstepping into the online casino industry. Last year, a group of PA online casinos started a lawsuit against the state lottery for launching online games, which the casinos claimed to be identical to online slots.
Michigan Sports Betting Still Awaiting Legislation
Several Michigan lawmakers have stated that drafting a bill to legalize MI sports betting will be a priority in 2019, however, judging by the pace at which online gambling is going through the legislative process, Michigan sportsbooks may have to wait awhile.