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Michigan and Virginia Launch Licensed ONLINE Gambling

Michigan State Map

Online sports betting has been gaining quite a large amount of traction in various U.S. states recently. Ever since the Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) law in 2018, multiple locations have spent time trying to pass legislation through for legal, state-licensed online sports betting. Some of those states have proceeded with legalizing sports betting, including both Michigan and Virginia.

Now, it’s official – online gambling has arrived in both states for bettors to access, including regulated Michigan online poker sites. The Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) initially approved 10 operators to launch with more on the way. Around the same time, Virginia launched its own online operations.

Virginia and Michigan Regulated Online Gaming Social Image

Virginia Reveals Its Sportsbooks Little by Little

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The Old Dominion of Virginia actually launched its online sports betting scene on Thursday, Jan. 21. The well-known FanDuel platform was the first to begin offering bets while a large competitor in DraftKings (now the official Daily Fantasy Sports Partner of the NFL) took the opportunity to launch on Sunday, Jan. 24 instead. BetMGM and BetRivers opened up for online business in the state on Wednesday, Jan. 27. More platforms, including William Hill and Caesars Virginia, are rumored to begin operating in Virginia in the next few weeks.

There wasn’t much advance information given about the launch of sports betting within the state though. The prime goal that was made known was that the state hoped to go live with its sportsbooks prior to the 55th Super Bowl in February. And while that has happened, it actually occurred sooner than most had anticipated. Now, it seems like the remaining sportsbooks are scrambling to launch their operations in Virginia to make it in time for that event.

Several of the organizations that now provide Virginia sports betting do business in other states too. The BetMGM brand, for example, has launched online betting opportunities in Colorado, Indiana, Iowa, New Jersey, Tennessee, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Michigan.

Virginia Sports Betting History

The state legislature passed SB384 legalizing sports betting during 2020. It managed to clear through both the House and the Senate, which left it in good stead for Governor Ralph Northam (D) to append his signature, which he eventually did in April after sending the bill back to the legislature with amendments.

As noted, there was little information released by the state about its intended sports betting launch date. However, two things were made clear – regulations had to be finalized by Sept. 15 and licenses could be issued to applicants 60 days after those regulations were introduced.

Unfortunately, there are certain parts of the Virginia bill that had to be altered so that both chambers would accept it as law. As part of a compromise, a ban on all betting on Virginia college sports was added to the legislation. Therefore, any game including colleges or universities from Virginia cannot be wagered on. No prop bets can be made on any college sports of any kind, and in-play betting can only be settled by the use of official league data. Operators have the ability to use any data source to settle end-of-game bets though.

Where Virginia licensing is concerned, the state’s lottery has the authority to issue at least four and up to 12 online-only gambling licenses. It will be up to the lottery to take the final decision on how many are issued, and that will be dependent upon what is perceived to be best economically for the state.

Any of the five terrestrial casinos operating in Virginia, under the terms of a separate casino bill, with an investment of $250 million or more will have priority over other considerations when it comes to receiving a sports betting license. All operators must pay a $250,000 sum for a three-year license and then $200,000 upon renewing it. Income from sports betting in Virginia will be taxed at 15%.

Michigan Rolls Out Online Sports Betting Via 10 Providers

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The online gambling scene in Michigan was rolled out on Friday, Jan. 22, with 10 operators being approved for launch. Eight of the initially launched operations are approved for both online sports betting and casino gameplay. PointsBet and Barstool, on the other hand, are solely licensed to provide sports betting to the state’s players.

Alongside those two sports betting-only brands, Michigan has approved the following providers to offer online casino and sports betting opportunities:

  • BetMGM
  • FanDuel
  • DraftKings
  • William Hill
  • TwinSpires
  • BetRivers
  • WynnBet
  • Golden Nugget

It’s true to say that all of these betting brands have been desperate to get their platforms set up in the state of Michigan. Several of them have united with professional sports teams and arenas within The Great Lakes State as a way of introducing a competitive market. The likelihood is that they will now all be actively vying to claim the spot at the top of the Michigan online gambling scene.

Online gambling in Michigan is expected to be a big money-maker for the state with some estimates for yearly revenue resting around the $650 million mark. Sports betting has become quite popular in various other US states, and online wagers account for more than 95% of the total sports betting income.

Michigan Online Gaming History

Things did not look so great for the state of Michigan towards the end of 2019. Despite a sports betting bill having been created the year before, it had been vetoed by Governor Rick Snyder (R). As time started running out in 2019, it seemed like the state would have to wait for another year before anything would occur in this sector.

However, the legislature took action and sent a package of bills to the new governor, Gretchen Whitmer (D), on Dec. 11. That proved to be the very last day of the 2019 session, and low and behold, the sports betting and gaming bills were signed into law.

In doing so, all existing licensed casinos within Michigan were authorized to provide legal online gambling options. Those bills did not only pertain to sports betting either, but legal online blackjack, slots, and online poker.

Poker Joins the Scene

About a week after the first Michigan-licensed online sportsbooks and casinos opened their virtual doors, they were joined by their first poker competitor on Friday, Jan. 29. It was on that date that PokerStars deployed its Michigan-centered online cardroom. Sister brands FOX Bet and Stars Casino also went live that same day. The Stars Group is operating in a partnership with the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, which runs casinos in Petoskey and Mackinaw City.

PokerStars Michigan WebsiteThe PokerStars Michigan Website

Court of Appeals Strengthens Shaky Ground for Interstate Online Poker

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The fortunes of the new PokerStars Michigan division, along with state-regulated internet poker sites elsewhere, will no doubt be given a boost following a First Circuit Court of Appeals triumph for New Hampshire. In a situation that has been going back and forth between the Department of Justice (DoJ) and the state of New Hampshire for close to a year, a final verdict was reached over the status of interstate online betting in the United States on Jan. 20, 2021.

The issue surrounded the language utilized in the Wire Act of 1961, and whether or not it meant that only sports betting was referred to within. Certain types of businesses had been restricted for years because of the act, and following a new, more restrictive opinion being announced on the Wire Act by the DoJ, it seemed as though all interstate gambling action based within the United States would have to be stopped.

However, the state of New Hampshire and its Lottery Commission went ahead and filed a complaint against the DoJ's interpretation, which it won in 2019. The DoJ appealed that decision, and further legal battles commenced. However, the final ruling decided that the Wire Act only relates to sports betting, and other forms of gambling can be conducted across state borders without violating federal law.

This works heavily in the favor of those states with licensed online poker because they can legally combine their efforts in various states to produce stronger online platforms. Michigan will be able to join the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement, which has been signed by New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware, in order to pool its player traffic with these three states. Michigan SB991 explicitly allows the Gaming Control Board to enter into such compacts and was passed into law near the end of last year.

Sports Betting in the United States

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It had been a rough road for sports betting in the United States over the past couple of decades before everything changed in 2018. Back in 1992, Congress passed the aforementioned PASPA law, which prevented any state from authorizing or licensing sports betting within their borders. The only four states at that time which had existing sports betting laws in place – Nevada, Montana, Oregon, and Delaware – were allowed to maintain their laws on this. However, Nevada was the only one that made much use of the exemption from PASPA.

That situation carried on for many years, until the Supreme Court opted to overturn it in 2018. The decision in the Murphy v. National Collegiate Athletic Association suit led to any US state being able to introduce sports betting laws into their legislation. New Jersey was able to offer legal sports betting opportunities right off the bat, as it had already taken various necessary legislative steps towards doing so prior to the overturning of the law. However, the expectations from other states being able to join in was also high.

SCOTUS c. 2018Supreme Court Justices Who Rendered the Decision in Murphy v. NCAA

Since that time, various states have introduced their own sports betting laws and launched their own markets. Alongside Michigan and Virginia, states with locally available options include North Carolina, Colorado, Indiana, Iowa, Illinois and New Mexico.

Playing Online Poker in the United States

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The licensed Michigan online poker market consists of just a single site, but you can broaden your horizons by exploring offshore poker providers. It's not against the law for you to participate on such sites, and all of the solutions we recommend for Michiganders are honest and trustworthy. You can find out more about these safe poker and gambling sites in Michigan by clicking here.

You can also access legal online poker in Virginia at offshore platforms too. As with Michigan, we have a guide to poker in Virginia that you can utilize to find the best poker room for your preferences. A variety of sites exist that will allow you to have a thoroughly entertaining experience.

If you reside in another part of the country, then you may wish to read this U.S.A. offshore poker guide to get all the info you need to join in the fun.