3 Online Casino Lessons From Michigan’s $100M Internet Gaming Market

Written By Matt Schoch on October 15, 2021

We love our milestones.

But on your 40th birthday, you’re only a day older than you were at 39 years and 364 days. Miguel Cabrera was already a pretty dang accomplished baseball player the day before socking his 500th home run this summer.

And billionaires were doing pretty well for themselves before replacing the “M” with that “B.”

But there’s just something about those round numbers that carries gravitas, and we often highlight them in our reporting.

So although $100 million is just a number, here’s what Michigan’s huge haul this past month for internet gaming revenue means for Michigan online casinos.

1. The house always wins

Let’s start with the obvious.

Whether you’re playing blackjack in an automated game, spinning a slot on your phone or “sitting down” for a live dealer casino game, you’re playing a losing hand.

Although there are reasons to celebrate such a lucrative market, keep in mind that this is money coming out of the pocket of Michiganders.

The $102.4 million of revenue made by Michigan internet gaming operators in September comes from money wagered minus money won. That’s nine figures of losses for Michiganders going into casino coffers.

We hope that most of this money is in disposable amounts, set aside by residents for entertainment. But we know that’s not always the case.

In the most serious manner possible, we say: Do not wager what you cannot afford to lose. Do not chase losses.

Call 1-800-270-7117 if you or someone you know has a problem.

2. Live dealer was a catalyst

Each state has different ways of reporting numbers, which often makes for some lively chatter on our company communication channels.

As a reporter, I’m thankful Michigan is not like Tennessee, which reports more bare-bones information than the Michigan Gaming Control Board. I’m jealous of analysts of some other states though, such as Illinois, which breaks out the parlay numbers from other bets.

All that to say we’re unable to see too many particulars from iGaming reports, especially on how much revenue is gained from Michigan online poker on its own, or from live dealer casino games.

We don’t know exactly how much impact live dealer had on revenue. But we do know that live-dealer capabilities launched in late July, then Michigan set revenue records in the next two full months.

In some countries, 25-30% of online casino revenue comes from live dealer games. We’re almost certainly not there in Michigan yet, but any growth adds to the bottom line.

3. Cross-selling will continue

When you find something that’s working, you should keep doing it.

For online casino operators, one of the successful tactics has been to drag over sports bettors to the casino element by luring them with promotions.

DraftKings Casino drops notices in the sports betting section of its app giving, for instance, $10 in free credits after opting in and playing $10 in real money at a particular game. These offers are often themed, such as DraftKings Football Blackjack on NFL opening weekend.

FanDuel Casino and Four Winds Casino are among the operators rolling out games of the week to sports bettors, promising some cash back if a certain cumulative amount is wagered on an online slot.

Caesars Casino is also implementing cash-back promotions on certain casino games after the switchover in Michigan and other states from William Hill.

These promotional efforts are here to stay.

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Matt Schoch

A Michigan native, Matt has worked at newspapers in Michigan, Missouri and the Virgin Islands. A versatile sports reporter, Matt has covered sailing on the Great Lakes, cricket in the Caribbean, high school and pro playoffs, and the Olympics in Rio. He's also the former host of the Locked On Pistons Podcast and producer of a documentary on Emoni Bates. A former blackjack dealer, Matt has studied the industry from all sides.

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