DETROIT – Michigan now joins the ranks as one of the various states that now welcomes sports betting online. In December 2020, the state filed its rules for online casino, online sports betting, and online fantasy sports betting with the Office of the Great Seal. It had been working on the rules since February 2020, and in March 2021 expedited the launch of online casino betting in Detroit.

Prior to this, sports betting had become legal in December 2019, with the first face-to-face betting taking place in March 2020. Michigan appears to be developing a comfortable relationship with betting.

Following in the footsteps of New Jersey

The state has followed eagerly in the steps of New Jersey, which had been campaigning tireless for the legalization of sports betting and managed to persuade the US Supreme Court that states should be able to have the right to decide whether they wish to legalize sports betting.

Following the ruling, New Jersey wasted no time and had things set up for sports betting just in time for the 2018 World Cup. The State Governor, Phil Murphy, made the first wager in the state and even went as far as to suggest New Jersey would dethrone Nevada as the sports gaming capital of America.

With face-to-face sports betting firmly established as a legal activity, now online sports betting is thriving in Michigan. The Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) allowed nine operators to take their first bets from January 22. Experts expect to see online sports betting and other online gaming flourish, due to the general popularity of sports in Michigan.


What has been the impact?

The authorities will be thanking the weather gods for the cold, snowy weather Michigan experienced in February, which kept people indoors more but still interested in sport and willing to wager on sports events.

And those analysts who believed sports betting and online gaming in the state would take off hit the nail on the head. In the first 10 days of operation, the industry got off to a thunderous start under the new rules, generating a gross $42.2 million, with Internet gaming raising $29.4 million and sports betting online drawing in $13.3 million.

This gross figure more than doubled in February to $89.2 million. Online gaming attracted $79.7 million and online sports betting contributed of $9.5 million to the gross total figure.

The legislation has proven something of a relief to the industry, with events in the world forcing casinos to operate at a more limited capacity. In this regard, sports betting had suffered a little, whereas Detroit’s three casinos were still able to report an aggregate revenue of $86.38 million in February.

How has it benefited the state?

It goes without saying that the activities of the operators and their patrons have swollen the coffers of the state considerably. Operators gifted the State of Michigan with approximately $14.1 million in taxes and payments.

The state will benefit from more funding, which will go into economic development, education from kindergarten through to 12th grade (K12 education), the City of Detroit and tribal communities. In a gesture of transparency, the authorities have published online how the revenue from the gaming and sports betting is divided up.

The citizens

Naturally, legalization will help to create more jobs in the area, and players will enjoy protection by the law. Michigan citizens can play legally, instead of having to visit offshore websites, and play safely. They don’t have to worry as much about receiving their winnings. If there are any issues, they can turn to the regulators for support.

Although socializing is more complicated at the moment, online gaming can enhance quality of life. Some citizens may decide to devote more of their time to it and make it a part of how they earn income, whereas others may play more socially. Gaming has acquired a strong social element and is as just as much about the experience of playing, rather than being purely about winning money. Some fans have even turned it into a competition amongst themselves and compete to see who can win the most money.

Popularity of gambling in Michigan

Michigan has a popular sports culture, with professional teams in all four major sports in the US. The state also has some prominent college teams. All of this means that citizens take not just an interest in the teams, but also in betting on the outcome of events that involve them, or in betting on sporting events in general.

Events such as the Ultimate Fighting Championship will have helped to contribute to the popularity of sports betting, or at least to sustain its popularity. As the number of big names in boxing starts to decline, this can have an impact on sports betting, but the UFC will have helped to keep the sports betting industry’s head still well above the water, especially as the UFC has worked to transform it more into a sport since its brutal, no-holds-barred early days and appeal more widely.

Michigan is loving sports betting, online and offline, and the powers-that-be will be congratulating themselves on a shrewd move. Fans are happy and can play legally and safely. Whatever the outcome of games themselves, the general legalization of sports betting online and offline seems to have suited everyone. It’s a winning arrangement.

This guest column was provided by Luke Windsor.