LANSING, Mich. — Online sports betting is set to launch throughout Michigan in mid-January.
So far, fifteen sportsbooks have been approved for launch. Two, Fanduel and DraftKings, are already offering pre-registration deals for Michiganders who sign up before actual betting can begin.
As he tells Fox 47, the launch of legal sports gambling means more opportunities to wager.
“For a Michigander that probably means you are going to have more access to legal sports betting with the launch of mobile sports betting,” said John Holden, an assistant professor of business at Oklahoma State University who studies federal and state regulation of sports gambling.
Mobile sports gambling can be done right from a bettor’s phone through sportsbook applications that follow location and age verification protocol as defined by the state’s Gaming and Control Board.
Holden says casinos that introduce their own sportsbooks to the digital landscape could see more engagement as programs begin to launch.
“For the past few months, sports betting has been available in some casinos though, of course, access to those casinos has been limited over the past few months due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Holden explained.
State-governed casinos are being hit hard by COVID-19 closures and reduced capacity measures. Table game and slots revenue dropped by over sixty-one percent compared to November 2019.
“I think there’s some pent-up demand," said Richard Kalm, executive director of the Michigan Gaming and Control Board. "The casinos were only open at fifteen percent capacity in October, and November was only half a month because, remember, we had to close because of COVID."
When the Lawful Sports Betting Act was first signed in December of 2019, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer estimated a market range handle of $175 million to $225 million from sports betting at both tribal and commercial casinos according to PlayMichigan.com.
Michigan is the twentieth state to legalize online sports betting. Other states have seen online sports take over the gambling scene in 2020.
“What we have seen is that states that have both brick and mortar sports betting and mobile betting are seeing upwards of 80 percent, 85 percent, New Jersey at one point was at 93 percent of the revenue was coming from mobile betting,” Holden said.
According to Kalm, the process is now in the hands of casinos and sportsbook applications to make sure they’re able to launch. To be cleared, these entities must be compliant with safe gambling guidelines laid out by the state.
“At this point, we’re waiting for the independent test labs that test the software and the types of games and also the geolocation to make sure that they have geolocation properly in place, their internal controls, and their age verification in place,” Kalm said.
Kalm said he and the control board are keeping safe betting in mind throughout this process. But, as Holden warns, the risk may not be preventable.
“There’s always risk associated with gambling. However, in a regulated environment like what’s launching in Michigan soon, those risks can be controlled to some degree.”
FireKeepers Casino in Battle Creek was the first tribal casino in Michigan to implement sports betting back in June. They are expected to embrace digital sports gambling but haven’t released a launch timeline.
Soaring Eagle Casino near Mount Pleasant announced in November that they would be adding in-person sports betting, but have yet to comment on the possibility of going digital.
Online poker, slots and more casino classics also on their way to Michigan, Kalm said, possibly as soon as February.
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