“Long Overdue”: Michigan Online Sports and Casino Gambling to Launch Very Soon

Author Thomas Wolf
December 3, 2020 3 min read

Online gambling was legalized in Michigan in December 2019, but only now, in December 2020, is the market nearing a place where it can officially open for business.

Nearly a full year after Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed House Bill 4916, state legislators signed off on the final rule package on December 1.

This could see sites launch in the state before the end of 2020, according to local news outlets.

Like most US states with legal online gambling markets, online operators in Michigan will be tied to a partnership with a physical land-based casino operator within state lines.

This covers three casinos in Detroit (all currently shuttered because of the COVID-19 pandemic) and 24 tribal casinos in the state.

“Everybody wants to get this thing going,” State Senate Republican Whip Pete Lucido. “This is something that’s long overdue. It is being done in other states. We’re losing opportunity costs.”

High Stakes

This urgency is no doubt influenced by the observed economic impacts of online gambling in states such as New Jersey. There is even more importance on this during the coronavirus pandemic. The pneumonia-causing disease has killed over 250,000 Americans and forced states across the country to shutter businesses (including many casinos) for months at a time.

Most recently, Detroit casinos MGM Grand Detroit, Motorcity, and Greektown, have all been told to shut down for 21 days.

However, closed casinos and betting stores do not eliminate the demand for gambling. You only need to look at New Jersey to see the proof. The state’s legal sportsbook market has taken a comfortable $4 billion in bets so far in 2020. Of that, 91% has come from online sportsbooks.

As we mentioned last week in our report on the financial troubles of lottery operator Intralot, only one market (Washington DC) has seen more bets placed offline than online since the start of the pandemic. Still, the market has its own problems that are distinct from the rest of the country.

Across the US and the world, places with a legal online gambling market – as opposed to just land-based venues – have weathered the economic storm of COVID in a better fashion.

Partnerships Formed

It seems that Michigan’s sports teams are also acutely aware of the potential income from online sports betting, especially when they are operating at 30% or even 0% of fans on seats during games.

Just this Monday, November 30, FanDuel and DraftKings signed a mega-deal with the Detroit Pistons NBA team. PointsBet signed up the MLB’s Detroit Tigers in a two-year deal, too.

The Detroit Lions football team has an existing sponsorship deal with BetMGM. However, we expect to see this to expand considerably once the sports betting market launches.

Michigan’s pro teams will be keen for the extra revenue not just because of COVID-19 stadium issues but also their poor general form in 2020. Not one of the state’s professional teams has a winning record this year, and the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings finished bottom of the league with the worst record.

Still, we cannot see that stopping sports-mad Michigan residents from betting on their favorite local team when the market opens.

For the latest updates on the state of the US legal markets, plus all the other biggest online casino stories from around the world, keep checking our pages. 

Author Thomas Wolf


Thomas Wolf

396 articles

Thomas Wolf is our editor in chief. With an extensive background in online gambling (both working for casino operators and game studios) as well as an MBA from the Thunderbird School of Global Management, he's a proper authority on online casinos. When not running the day to day operations or reviewing new operators Thomas is a blackjack aficionado with some seriously big wins recorded at land-based casinos in both Las Vegas, Monaco and Macau.

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