Study Suggests 2020 Might Be A Slow First Year For Michigan’s Legal Sportsbooks

Posted By Derek Helling on March 4, 2020

If the results of a Piplsay sports betting study are accurate in regards to the behavior of Michiganders, 2020 won’t be a banner year for the state’s new legal sportsbooks. That’s only in terms of comparison to future years, however.

The research supports the narrative that the app is where it’s at. Because Internet wagering is likely to see a delay in the Wolverine State, it’s fair to expect unimpressive numbers.

What the Piplsay sports betting study shows

Piplsay published an online survey and got nearly 29,000 responses from United States residents. It’s unclear how many of those, if any, call Michigan home.

While 28,533 people represent less than a tenth of one percent of the US population, the findings aren’t without value. Unfortunately for companies looking to open retail sportsbooks in Michigan later this year, the information isn’t glowingly positive.

The study shows that of those respondents who stated they place wagers on sporting events regularly, 42% do so online. That was the biggest group by at least 14% and more than three of the four options combined.

That’s an issue because online sportsbooks won’t launch in Michigan until sometime in 2021. The reason for that is the state is still working on finalizing regulations for those operators.

While retail sportsbooks could launch as soon as this month, it’s unclear how popular they will be. Many Michiganders could opt to continue traveling to neighboring Indiana or using offshore channels to place their bets online instead.

There is some good news in the study, however. If the brick-and-mortar sportsbooks can play their cards right, they might still have a successful launch.

The good news in the study for Michigan sportsbooks

Regardless of whether the retail books go live this month, they should be open well in time for the next college football and NFL seasons. The study shows that football is the most popular betting sport in the US.

That could mean a great fall for Michigan’s sportsbooks. How great will depend on the ramp-up to those seasons and awareness of legal options for sports betting in the state.

Casinos in Michigan have already started off on a good foot by partnering with some of the most successful sportsbook brands in the country. This includes FanDuel, PointsBet and William Hill.

Those brands are very experienced in marketing themselves to sports bettors. They will also be able to take advantage of the casinos’ familiarity with the local clientele.

The other thing working in the sportsbooks’ favor is the new and shiny factor. Legal sports betting will be a new experience for many Michiganders.

That may just work well enough to carry them through until the state authorizes online wagering. The negative aspect of this study for Michigan is only temporary.

Why this “gloom and doom” could be quickly forgotten

It isn’t uncommon for states to authorize brick-and-mortar wagering prior to online betting. In some states like New York, there is no timeline at all for when online wagering could be available.

2020 could only be a “down year” in comparison to future years when online handle should tremendously increase the overall take for the state’s sportsbooks. Obviously any revenue the sportsbooks generate in Michigan this year will be a record.

While this first year of legal betting would be better with online wagering included, the days will fly off the calendar until when that happens. At that point, the state will see the maturation of its legal sports betting market.

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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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