What To Expect When Online Gambling Goes Live In Michigan

Michigan bettors have had access to sports betting since the beginning of the year. It was a huge victory for Michigan ports betting proponents, but legalization missed one critical piece: online gaming. Once Governor Whitmer signed sports betting into law, the Michigan Gaming Control Board had to write the rules governing sportsbooks. The Gaming Control Board finished the retail sportsbook regulations first, and retail sportsbooks went live in mid-March. But online sports betting was still in the works. Online gaming’s deadline is approaching, and bettors should know what to expect when it comes online.

Online Sports Betting In Michigan

When retail sports betting was allowed in Michigan, it was full of potential. However, its launch was the same week as the first wave of Covid-19 shutdowns across the country. Michigan casinos closed less than a week after retail sportsbooks opened. It was a blow to gaming revenue and the hyped-up sports betting industry.

If online sports betting had been live in March, the sportsbook industry would’ve performed better. In states like Colorado, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey–all of which have online sports betting–online sports betting handle dwarfed retail sports betting handle. During some months, over 95% of sports bets were made online. Far more people wagered online than in person.

When online sportsbooks arrive in Michigan, bettors should expect to see most of their state’s sports betting revenue come from mobile sports betting, at least until the pandemic ends.

All The New Brands Descending On Michigan

Once mobile apps get the go-ahead, bettors will flock to online betting. But bettors will also have a slew of apps to choose from. They’ll probably find DraftKings and FanDuel apps soon after launch. However, they may find one or two homegrown sportsbooks that are run by local casinos.

The biggest difference between big brands and homegrown sportsbook sites will be bonuses. Big brands can afford to offer site credits to new bettors. DraftKings’ $1,000 deposit bonus and FanDuel’s $1,000 risk-free bets are enticing. However, smaller brands probably won’t offer big rewards upfront. They may offer ongoing bonus programs or casino-style reward programs. In Colorado, BetMonarch is a casino hotel-owned and operated sportsbook. Its sportsbook is tied to its hotel rewards, so bettors can earn their way toward free rooms, meals, and spa days.

As new sportsbooks come online, bettors will be able to compare rewards programs. Bettors should compare the benefits of different sportsbooks as they roll out.

Online Casinos In Michigan

Although online sportsbooks get a lot of press on our site, online casinos are coming, too. The series of bills Governor Whitmer signed in December 2019 included an online casino bill. It’s a large extension for Michigan’s gaming market, and bettors should prepare for the onslaught of online casinos.

Online casinos will add revenue to Michigan’s gaming industry. However, retail casinos will likely remain dominant over online casinos. In Pennsylvania, online casino revenue is less than a quarter of total gaming revenue. Even though the pandemic has driven gaming online, casinos offer more than gambling. Casinos are social places with bars, drinks, and food. Unless bettors have a fantastic home bar, online casinos won’t offer that same atmosphere. Pennsylvania’s revenue numbers suggest the social offerings of retail casinos are a large part of their attraction.

When Michiganders get access to online casinos, they’ll see their fellow Michiganders flock to them. However, retail casinos will probably remain gaming staples.

Online Casino Brands

Michiganders can expect a few different online casino brands when online gaming finally goes live. Here’s a preliminary list of online casino brands coming to Michigan:

Two interesting trends pop out from this shortlist. First, each of these online casinos is a large brand. Online casinos don’t seem to be as accessible to smaller brands as sportsbooks are. This is likely because oddsmakers have more control over odds and expected profits on each line. Online casinos can run on a preprogrammed algorithm, often with win rates set by regulatory authorities. However, the big brands could also be the only ones with the capital to launch first. We’ll have to watch the industry’s development to see which brands open.

But the second trend is more interesting. Four of the five first online casinos expected to launch in Michigan are also major sportsbook brands. There seems to be connective tissue between sports betting and online casinos. Maybe there’s overlap between odds making and algorithm programming. Sportsbooks’ required cash reserves could allow them to expand into online casinos. Whatever the reason, bettors may find more large sportsbook brands entering the online casino space.

Michigan’s Rich Tapestry Of Online Gaming

Online gaming is going to fundamentally change Michigan’s gaming environment. Online sports betting is expected to outperform retail sports betting as it has in other states. However, online casinos may generate less revenue than retail casinos. However, that’s assuming Michigan’s online gaming industry develops the same way that Pennsylvania’s has.

But adding online gaming is expected to increase tax revenue for Michigan. We’ve predicted that sports betting and online gambling could generate $650 million in first-year revenue and up to $93 million in first-year tax revenue. Online gaming will likely be a lucrative industry for bettors and a competitive industry among Michigan’s neighboring states. Bettors are about to get new convenient betting options that may not have been imaginable before 2018. Those new betting options will alter Michigan’s gaming landscape for years to come.

About the Author

Christopher Gerlacher

Christopher Gerlacher is a writer tucked into the foothills of Colorado Springs, Colorado.