Online sports betting in Michigan could be coming sooner than expected.
The first physical Michigan sportsbooks managed to open up just in time for March Madness.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t give those sportsbooks a lot of time to get off the launchpad. Casinos throughout the state shut down just days after the first sports bets were placed.
Online sports betting apps could have helped offset the retail casino closures, but Michigan hasn’t been able to come to market yet.
Originally, the state wasn’t planning on having online betting until early 2021. Now, lawmakers are trying to move things up a bit, and are hopeful for a 2020 online sports betting launch.
Regardless of how Michigan’s timeline ends up shaking out, we can look to its southern neighbor to get an idea of how sports betting might progress in the Wolverine State.
It’s been nearly ten months since sports betting started in Indiana. As the first state to launch in the area, Indiana can act as a template for Michigan’s market.
Long wait for online betting in Michigan
A big difference between Indiana and Michigan is the gap between when retail sportsbooks opened and when online apps first launched.
Compared to Indiana, Michigan residents have had to wait a long time for online betting.
Retail sportsbooks in Indiana started taking action in September 2019, with Indiana online sportsbooks opening their digital doors just a month later.
Naturally, the online launch led to a big jump in Indiana’s handle. During that first month without online betting, the state pulled in $34 million worth of wagers. Since online sportsbooks launched the next month, that number quickly exploded to over $90 million.
Once its online sportsbooks are finally up and running, Michigan might see a similar 163% increase in wagers from month-month.
However, the question is, when will online betting launch in the state?
If Michigan can’t make that 2020 launch happen, it could end up having a year-long gap between when retail sportsbooks launched and when online betting finally opens up.
Although that extra wait isn’t ideal for Michigan gamblers, it could help increase competition in the state’s market. With a few extra months to get ready, more sportsbooks could be good to go for day one of online betting in the state.
Plenty of competition for Michigan
Another key difference between Indiana and Michigan is the number of online sportsbooks that could be available from the start.
Sportsbooks have already been carving out partnerships throughout Michigan. The longer it takes to launch online betting, the more time they’ll have to get ready for that first day of action.
Operators already in the pipeline include:
However, all of those sportsbooks are still waiting on the rules for online betting to be finalized. Once legislators have those rules nailed down, sportsbooks can really start gearing up to launch.
If a handful of sportsbooks are open for business from day one, it will help jump-start competition within Michigan’s market.
It took Indiana nearly three months to have four online sportsbooks up and running in the state. Michigan has the potential to have that many taking bets from the start.
Launching sometime this fall would be a huge win for Michigan’s market. Football betting is king, and Michigan’s sportsbooks would love to get in on the action.
Michigan’s race for NFL betting
Indiana lawmakers rushed to get the state’s online launch ready by the fall of 2019. The goal: be open for business for the NFL season.
Now Michigan has found itself in a similar spot.
If all goes well, online betting could launch in Michigan sometime between October and December. Although the state would miss the start of football season, it could still be around for the bulk of it.
College football could end up being just as important as the NFL for Michigan betting.
With some successful programs at schools like Michigan and Michigan State, college football betting will be a huge piece of the puzzle.
Since football is by far the most popular sport for betting in the US, launching online betting in Michigan this fall could be the difference between a lackluster start and a great handle for the first few months.
In September 2019, when Indiana only had retail sportsbooks, Hoosiers bet over $20 million just on football. In October, after online betting had launched in the state, that number shot up to over $41 million in football wagers. By December, it was just under the $60 million mark.
Between football betting and increased competition, Michigan could be primed for a very successful online launch.
That fall timeline is the key to the whole thing, so the sooner online betting launches, the better. If Michigan isn’t quick to get things moving, the ship might sail on the state having a launch that mirrors Indiana’s success.