While online wagering on sporting events has become an industry worth billions of dollars already, there are still several potentially lucrative markets it has no presence in, like New York City and Detroit. That may change soon, though, as both New York and Michigan are moving toward potential online sports betting rollouts.
Michigan is much more advanced in that process as it stands right now. However, the prospect of online sportsbooks in New York is as tantalizing as it gets.
The latest on the online sports betting rollout in Michigan
For Michiganders hoping to place some legal wagers without leaving their state before 2020 ends, that looks unlikely. The only option for doing that looks like visiting tribal casinos’ retail sportsbooks.
While regulators had hopes of launching online Michigan sports betting earlier this month, next month is now the earliest timeline. The wheels are turning toward that end. If everything goes well, mid-January is realistic.
Last week, the Michigan Gaming Control Board issued 15 provisional licenses to operators. Essentially, that means the MGCB has started the process of completing all the necessary compliance inspections with the 15 licensees.
Upon successful completion of those reviews, permanent licenses are the next step. Then, the MGCB will announce a go-live authorization date for each licensee. Those may or may not come in concert with each other.
The 15 provisional licensees include well-known sportsbook brands like BetMGM, BetRivers, DraftKings, FanDuel, PointsBet, and William Hill. Handicapping the field as to which brand(s) will actually go live first is just a matter of taking wild guesses at the moment.
Multiple brands, like BetRivers, DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook are already offering sign-up bonuses for Michigan registrations. If all 15 provisional licenses become permanent licenses within a short time frame, the fight for market share could be quite fierce right off the bat.
It’s easy to understand why all of these major companies are in on Michigan. Not only does the state boast all the Detroit professional sports teams but two Big Ten college sports programs as well.
If that is what makes Michigan sports betting attractive, New York is an even bigger prize for operators. However, things are far less certain in the Empire State right now.
Not just a matter of when, but also if, in New York
As most New Yorkers probably know, the only legal path for sports betting in their state is visiting a retail sportsbook inside an upstate casino. Online wagering requires travel to New Jersey or Pennsylvania.
There might be significant momentum to change that, however. The latest push is more about revenue for the state than solely the question of gambling expansion.
As the state faces a potential $15 billion deficit, it’s looking for more sources of tax dollars. Thus, online sports betting legalization is on the table in Albany again.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has moved off his stance that the only path for such legalization is a constitutional amendment, somewhat. Cuomo expressed his preference that the state wait to see what kind of aid it might get from the US federal coffers in the near future before moving on gambling expansion.
Following that course of action would put the NY legislature in action on this front in March or April. Some New York lawmakers want to do that now.
State Sen. Joseph Addabbo Jr. has been one of the biggest proponents of New York online sports betting legalization. He’s on the forefront again, stressing the possibility of including legalization in a revenue bill that could see votes this year.
There are details to work out in that scenario. For example, a proposal that passed the New York Assembly last year gave each licensee a single skin for online wagering. Some legislators would like to expand that to at least two.
If they are to reach a deal included on a revenue bill in 2020, it will have to come together very quickly. Like the year itself, the time frame for such a bill draws short.
Why time is of the essence for both MI and NY
Like any other bill in New York, a revenue bill would have to work within the time constraints codified into state law. State law gives Cuomo 10 days, not including Sundays, to review legislation before making a decision on it. Additionally, the law requires a three-day moratorium to pass before either chamber can vote on a bill unless Cuomo issues a “message of necessity” to suspend that rule.
So far, neither the Assembly nor the Senate have voted on a revenue bill. To give Cuomo the requisite 10 days, the legislature would have to send a bill to him by this Saturday, the 20th.
Essentially, unless Cuomo grants that message of necessity to both chambers and both chambers authorize a concurrent piece of legislation within the next 24 hours, online sports betting legalization won’t happen in New York this year. That doesn’t mean early next year is off the table, though.
In Michigan, it’s more a matter of maximizing the value of a rollout. January will boast not only the NFL playoffs and College Football Playoff but NBA, NHL, and men’s college basketball action as well.
The next few days could decide how soon and whether online sports betting is available in MI and NY. Bettors and industry players alike are watching the activity in both states with cautious optimism.