Michigan Gaming Control Board ("MGCB") Executive Director Rick Kalm gave an overview  presentation to the Michigan Senate Regulatory Reform Committee on Tuesday, February 16, giving an update of the recent launch of internet gaming and sports betting in the State.  He provided an overview of the differences between Michigan law and other states law, discussed the revenue and tax impact information from the first 10 days, and gave a summary of the steps that the MGCB took to get to a successful launch. The presentation also gave a high-level overview of the rulemaking and licensing process, and addressed many of the senators' questions regarding internet gaming and sports betting.

Mr. Kalm noted that Michigan is one of the first states to authorize and license both commercial casino operators and tribal casino operators, and suggested that Michigan is likely to be a model of regulation for others as online gaming and online sports betting expands into other jurisdictions.  He provided a thorough breakdown on revenue numbers (see separate story) and noted how the tax revenue will benefit both the state and many local communities.  

Mr. Kalm also discussed the path that the MGCB took to get to launch.   He explained that the MGCB's launch goal was to move quickly, but also to establish the proper regulatory framework.  He noted that the rules were finally approved in early December through the legislative approval process, and the MGCB was able to authorize the launch by January 22nd.  “We previously licensed all the people that were involved to make sure we were able to launch not only quickly, but also to launch safely”, Mr. Kalm noted.   They accomplished getting to launch so quickly by working on the various steps simultaneously.  This included all the licensing of entities and individuals, lab approvals (both private and state lab) and getting through the various regulatory steps on a parallel path with getting the rules finalized.  

Mr. Kalm was very appreciative of the hard work of the MGCB staff to process applications and prepare for the launch. He also expressed appreciation for the cooperation of all of the operators and platform providers in giving input on the rules and working with the MGCB to complete the licensing process.  “The biggest thing we need to do is assure responsibility and integrity”, he noted.  Mr. Kalm explained the importance of responsibility, integrity monitoring, geolocation, and know your consumer features to the operation of any form of internet gaming.

Committee Chair Senator Aric Nesbitt asked if there has been anything problematic during the process. Mr. Kalm responded that there was a smooth launch and things have been going very well. He has appreciated the efficiency of the MGCB staff in processing applications, the sophistication of the tribal operators, and the fact that most platform providers have already operated in other jurisdictions.  He said that he was more surprised by how well the launch went then by any other aspect of the process.  

Senator Nesbitt asked if we can expect multijurisdictional poker any time soon, to which Mr. Kalm said the MGCB has beenfocusing on getting internet gaming and sports betting launched right now, but that poker is a high priority.  He mentioned that there is a compact between the states of New Jersey, Delaware, and Nevada on this topic, and they have obtained a copy of it to review and consider.  They have met with New Jersey to discuss the topic (even before passage of the law authorizing it). 

Mr. Kalm was asked about the responsible gaming measures that are in place for internet gaming and sports betting. Mr. Kalm noted that money apportioned to the problem gambling fund is directed to the Department of Community Health, who is able to spend the money on problem gambling advertisements or programs as it sees fit. He also noted that the problem gambling helpline is required to be on the mobile apps and websites, and that all of the platforms are required to have time stamps, wager amounts, and features to allow consumers to self-regulate their play. He noted that the disassociated persons list is another option for those struggling with addiction.

Finally, Mr. Kalm was asked about the turnaround time for licensing. He responded that it depends on the size of the company and how many individuals are required to be licensed. It also depends upon whether the company has already been licensed in another jurisdiction, which would allow the MGCB to grant a provisional license first. He expressed appreciation for how quick the MGCB staff has become at processing applications over the last several months.


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