WAYLAND, Mich. — Sports fans across the state of Michigan were extremely excited to see sports betting legalized but the online portion is still waiting to be launched.
"The story is yet to be told as far as how big the market is here in Michigan, but we're confident," said Jose Flores, Gun Lake Casino vice president and general manager.
In the next week or two, Michiganders will be able to bet on college football and basketball and any professional sport with the click of a button on their phone.
"Anytime between the 12th and 19th this month," said Michigan Gaming Control Board executive director, Richard Kalm on the expected green light date for the books to launch, "we will know who's going to launch. Then, it'll take them a few days to do their testing and make sure everything works before they do a go live."
Breaking: Michigan Gaming Control Board executive director, Richard Kalm tells me online sports betting & casino games will have a green light to launch "within the next week or two" - some books will launch earlier than others. @FOX17— Zach Harig (@FOX17Zach) January 11, 2021
"It's exciting, we're all excited to bring this service to the entire state of Michigan," Flores added, "we're happy to participate in this process."
Online wagering is expected to be a much larger portion of sports betting around the state of Michigan, much like the industry has seen in other legal states.
According to the American Gaming Association, New Jersey saw $4.6 billion bet on sports in 2019 and 84-percent of that was wagered online.
"I think there's a lot of built up demand for sports betting," Kalm added, "I think the handle here will be comparable to New Jersey and some of the other heavily populated states."
And the casinos and sportsbooks understand the black market has taken away billions of dollars in revenue for years.
"It pulls some of the black market wagering out of the shadows and brings it forward into a legal system that can be trusted and is regulated," Flores added.
Gun Lake Casino is partnering with Parks Casino out of Pennsylvania, where they've had legal online wagering since 2019.
"They're doing a lot of the work in regards to app development, what the website will look like, finding vendors as far as content providers, age verification and location verification," Flores added, also mentioning his team is making sure they take care of their legal processes and the customer satisfaction aspect.
With so many sports going on right now, including the NFL playoffs, they'd love to launch sooner rather than later, but are being patient.
"Football is in the playoffs already, March Madness is around the corner, our whole intent is to maximize revenue for the states but we have to do it legally and make sure it has integrity," said Kalm.
And Gun Lake Casino is ready for when the launch date comes.
"Launching earlier is better than later," he said. "But, we also want to make sure we have a good product, a product that's safe, a product that works, and that all takes time."
Online sportsbooks like FanDuel and Draft Kings are already active on app stores but bettors are unable to place bets until the launch occurs.
Meanwhile, local casinos like Gun Lake Casino will have their own online sportsbook and online games through a third party app which will be announced at a later date.