Could Cricket Betting Be To Michigan What Table Tennis Is To Colorado?

Written By Derek Helling on July 9, 2021 - Last Updated on July 22, 2021

One of the more unique elements of legal sports betting in Colorado has been that bettors there love to put money down on table tennis. Recently, Michigan cricket betting became part of the legal landscape in the Great Lakes State, creating the potential for a similar niche phenomenon for Michigan sportsbooks.

Although it’s a small sample, that doesn’t seem like it will be the case so far. The sport does have a presence in MI but it might take a lot more development and infrastructure before it becomes a part of the fabric of legal sports betting in Michigan.

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Michigan cricket betting quietly debuts

On June 3, the Michigan Gaming Control Board added cricket to the list of permissible events for wagering. Since then, multiple operators have started booking events. Among those are DraftKings Sportsbook and Four Winds Sportsbook.

Other MI licensees have passed to date, though, such as BetMGM Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook. DraftKings provided some insight as to why that decision might not really be hurting those operators much.

According to DraftKings’ sportsbook director, Johnny Avello, the amount of handle that book has taken so far has been negligible in comparison to other sports.

“MMA is quite a distance ahead of all the others on this list [of niche sports DraftKings offers action on],” Avello commented. “A good MMA card could be one of the top money handling events on a given day. Boxing could also do very well with a premier card. Motorsports are a steady weekly offering, with NASCAR leading the way considerably. College lacrosse did extremely well in the jurisdictions that took it, but the Premier League (soccer) has had modest handle.

“The rest on the list do OK and support our full menu of offerings. Aussie Rules (football) does better than rugby and cricket, which are close in action. Interestingly enough, some customers find their niche divergent sports, apply some effort and research and do very well.”

Among those niche sports Avello mentioned, here’s how they have performed at DraftKings Michigan in terms of dollars wagered in relation to each other since April 1, 2021:

  • MMA
  • Motorsports
  • Boxing
  • Australian Rules
  • Rugby League
  • Cricket
  • Lacrosse
  • Cycling
  • Bowling
  • Rugby Union

As previously stated, a few months is a small sample, and cricket has only been available since early June. Is there reason to believe that cricket could climb this list? That depends on who you ask.

Cricket community in MI also seems niche

The sport is more organized in MI than some may imagine, but it still has the feel of more of a recreational activity than a robust product. The governing body for the sport in MI, the Michigan Cricket Association, has multiple levels. Several clubs from around the state regularly compete in the association.

Players and teams have to pay to play, however, instead of getting paid to play. That’s a big reason why action on MI sports betting apps focuses on matches in other countries. At the same time, the number of clubs and players suggests there is a decent fan base for those events that might be willing to place wagers.

According to online search traffic, cricket ranks as one of the most popular — if not the most popular — sports in many countries. These include Australia, India, Jamaica, and the United Kingdom. Part of the sport’s popularity there can be traced to its English origins.

In 2018, one study found that of Michigan’s immigrant population, Indians represented the second-largest percentage. Thus, the interest in cricket exists in MI. That presence doesn’t necessarily mean there is an inherent interest in betting on the sport, however.

So far, it looks like MI sportsbooks are not converting many cricket fans in MI into cricket bettors. Until they crack that code, Michigan cricket betting will probably remain on the lower rungs of the niche sports wagering ladder.

What other niche sports could net bets in MI?

Just this month, the Michigan Gaming Control Board added a few more niche sports to the Sports Wagering Catalog.

We’ll be checking to see if these sports, which are now legal to be wagered on here, pick up any steam in time:

  • Billiards and snooker (World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association)
  • Eating (Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest)
  • Ultimate Frisbee (American Ultimate Disc League)

The American Cornhole League is still pending approval by the MGCB.

Photo by Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi/AP
Derek Helling Avatar
Written by
Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a freelance journalist who resides in Chicago, IL. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa and covers the intersections of sports with business and the law. Recently, he has written about the expanded gambling industry in Michigan, including online sports betting, online casinos, and the cornerstone land-based casino market.

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