Sports Betting News From Ohio, Ontario Will Affect Michigan Sportsbooks In Different Ways

Written By Derek Helling on June 25, 2021 - Last Updated on July 22, 2021

In Indiana and Wisconsin, things go by much as they have for the past couple of years in terms of legal gambling. However, in two other Michigan border territories, some recent news could affect Michigan sportsbooks.

Those two jurisdictions are the US state of Ohio, and the province of Ontario, Canada. The news is about legislative action that will have consequences for gamblers who live there. The sports betting industry in Michigan could experience some repercussions as well.

The recent news in these two Michigan border territories

On Tuesday, Canada’s Parliament finalized a bill to remove the country’s prohibition on single-event wagering. Currently, the only way to legally bet on sports in Canada — outside of sovereign, tribal lands — is to parlay together multiple events. Thus, the regulated market in Ontario is currently minuscule.

The actual rollout of regulated sports betting in Ontario is up to provincial government now. The COO of Ontario’s Alcohol and Gaming Commission, David Phillips, said he expects sportsbooks to be up and running by the end of this year.

That commission is the likely regulatory body for sports betting in the province, so Phillips’ prognostication carries weight. But as a major roadblock to legal wagering in Ontario was removed, OH lawmakers went the other way.

Clock running out on late Ohio sports gambling efforts

It looked as though time would run out on the state’s current legislative session with no final action on gambling expansion. A total of 15 hearings on the matter of legalizing sports betting in the state appeared as though they would produce nothing, but there may be a better grasp of where things sit for the fall.

However, as reported by PlayOhio.com, there was some last-minute momentum to get sports betting added to the gambling options in that state to the south. The Senate passed bill H29 late Thursday, and sources told PlayOhio that means sports betting could have been added by early next week. The bill was originally about adding veteran identification cards in the Buckeye State, and sports betting was tacked on to it.

However, the word from Legal Sports Report on Friday was that the bill seems unlikely to hit the soft June 30 deadline that lawmakers had imposed.

If this current effort stalls, the House can take the matter back up when it reconvenes in September. But, right now, there is some hope for gambling expansion. Either way, this will have real impact on MI sports betting apps.

What does this all mean for Michigan sports betting?

Immediately, none of this news poses any threat for MI sportsbooks. The only real concern is some potential new competition down the road. Even if Ontario moves quickly on rolling out sportsbooks and the last-minute action by the OH legislature moves forward, it’s still going to be months before residents there are actually putting bets down.

The more probable scenario in Ontario involves the enactment of provincial statutes sometime this summer. Then, regulators will get to work on compliance and licensing. MI sports betting apps probably don’t have to worry about competition from the “Great White North” until late this year, if not early 2022.

That timeline could be even further out in Ohio. Should the legislature reach concurrence and OH Gov. Mike DeWine sign off, you’re probably looking at about the same timeline as Ontario, if not later. Also, even when Ohio and Ontario sportsbooks are live, it’s fair to question how much effect they’ll have on the same in Michigan.

Are Ohioans, Ontarians coming to MI to bet?

There’s no solid research on how many people putting down bets at MI sportsbooks actually live in Ohio or Ontario. Since MI sportsbooks went live, the number of Ontarians doing so has probably been small. That’s largely because Canadian COVID-19 pandemic restrictions discourage trips into the United States.

Ohioans also have several other options when it comes to legal wagering. Indiana, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia also offer online sports betting apps. So, residents closer to those states more likely crossed those borders than made the trip to MI.

Also, there is a strong probability that Ohioans who bet on offshore websites continue to do so rather than travel to wager legally. The bottom line is that Michigan border territories offering sports betting may not have much effect on the market in MI. Either way, some time will pass before anyone can quantify such outcomes.

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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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