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Special Bulletin: Sports and Online Casino Game Betting Update

Karole White

By Karole L. White, 
MAB President/CEO

Deputy Executive Director/General Counsel to the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB), Dave Murley met with more than 50 Michigan broadcasters via a Zoom call yesterday, hosted by our government relations consultant, Rob Elhenicky of Kelley Cawthorne and the MAB. He explained some of the rules and regulations that impacted broadcasting and answered a number of questions.

“We just didn’t know how your industry works,” Murley said. “Do not stop airing the commercials. We will get this figured out. We will not take action against any broadcaster for airing the commercials.”

According to Murley, it was not their intent to require every broadcaster who accepts sports betting or on-line casino gambling advertising to register with the gaming control board.

Murley told MAB members the rules require companies receiving $100,000 or more of income from a single sports betting or on-line betting licensee for the sale of products or services including advertising, will be required to become a registered provider/vendor with MGCB. If a station does not fall under that income threshold from any one gaming licensee, they do not have to register.

As Murley continued to field questions, it was clear that this Zoom meeting helped him to begin to understand that the answers of registration questions of broadcasters were not simple. He said that he spoke with the Executive Director of the MGCB and there will be no fines or violations assessed to stations airing the messages who are not registered, because MGCB does not regulate broadcast stations.

It is totally the responsibility of the gaming licensee and the advertising agency to register and provide information about the amount of funds spent on advertising. Murley further assured the MAB and the stations participating in the call that he and the MGCB would continue to work with broadcasters for better mutual understanding of the rules.

Murley told members he would have a letter or some form or communications sent to them for their public file indicating that stations may continue to advertise while MGCB gets the issue of registration worked out.

Questions yet to be worked out:

  • The rules say $100,000 per company. One company may own several stations. Collectively they may far exceed the $100,000 threshold, but possibly not individually. Is the threshold requiring registration per company or per broadcast station?
  • Much of the money comes not from a licensed sport betting or on-line casino gambling company, but a third party advertising agency contracted to create and purchase ads in all media according to a plan approved by the gaming facility. Who then must register the agency, the broadcaster/ media outlet or both?
  • Some media outlets have completely separate companies for their digital advertising products or print advertising products all owned by the same corporate entity will each have to register separately? Please define company?

MAB will bring you more information as it develops to help our members work through the new sports betting and online betting rules. We will get the letter from MGCB authorizing advertising without registrations as soon as we get it. Murley said he will try to get it to us by next week.

Any station that is concerned could go ahead and register even though it may ultimately be unnecessary. That is a business decision between you and your attorney. It’s not expensive.

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