LANSING, Mich. — March Madness is one of the biggest times of the year for sports betting with Americans betting more than $8 billion a year on the NCAA Basketball tournament. After a set of bills signed by Governor Gretchen Whitmer legalizing sports betting and online gambling, the state hopes to start on-site gambling just in time for the tournament.
Basketball fans like Donzel Abram are already anticipating March Madness and prepping their brackets.
"I always win. I can't give you my secret though," said Abram.
Sports books and The Michigan Gaming Control Board are working to approve licenses for retail betting at the three commercial casinos in Detroit.
"Right now the only thing they're waiting for us to approve the couple licenses still outstanding for some of their vendors and the internal control. We've been going back and forth with them making sure that the internal controls that they have in place are adequate enough to ensure the integrity of gaming and we're really close," said Executive Director Rick Kalm.
Kalm predicts the casinos will begin operations by the start of March Madness on March 17.
MGM Grand Casino in Detroit tells News 10 they're expecting a rush when the basketball tournament begins and has already opened up a nearly $7 million dollar sports lounge with self-serving kiosks and is training staff.
The state's 24 tribal casinos can start operations any day now.
"They have their own gaming boards and they have their own approval process and I believe several of them are working with suppliers for their sports book," said Kalm.
Casinos are expecting to see more foot traffic. Fans will no longer have to go through offshore sites to place their wages. However, online and mobile betting is still months away. Kalm says the board is in a length rule-making process and will also consider public comment.
They expect that to start in early 2021.
The state expects to make hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue once everything is up and running. The money is supposed to go to the school aid fund and to help pay for cancer treatment for firefighters exposed to carcinogens on the job.
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