The state of Michigan has experienced nothing but bad luck since Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed sports betting into law in December 2019. The industry as a whole has been plagued from the outset by COVID-19, the closures that have resulted, and the subsequent inability to fully integrate a necessary mobile betting platform into the overall mix.
While many states across the US are currently enjoying record monthly handles thanks in large part to a strong mobile betting platform, Michigan is once again staring at a delay for the launch of any mobile apps and is facing yet more Casino shutdowns as COVID cases in the state spike. While retail betting at Greektown Casino, MGM Grand, and Motorcity Casino Hotel had been up-and-running, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has ordered all casinos under state oversight to close through Dec. 10.
Making it worse, those avid bettors and providers that had hoped to have a mobile platform in place by now and are suffering under new shutdown orders in the state, are looking at an early-2021 launch for any apps to come their way.
A Bit of History on the Michigan Scene
Legalized online sports betting became a reality in Michigan in December 2019, but as with every state, rules and regulations took some time to be developed. In record time, the state drafted and legislated its rules for a broad legal sports betting platform… then COVID hit and put the brakes on everything. In-person betting was launched five days before the state had to shut down in March due to COVID-19.
Retail sports betting was pushed back a little due to COVID restrictions in the state. Mobile betting was hindered even more, thanks to regulators and legislators being unable to fully address the needs and concerns of such a platform.
Originally, the start of the NFL season was the target for mobile betting in Michigan. That ambitious goal was pushed to Thanksgiving, and now comes word that further delays in the process have forced the state to set the end of this year optimistically but a more realistic early-2021 date for the launch of the much-anticipated mobile betting scene.
The Potential Michigan Market
According to MichiganSharp.com, the Michigan legal betting market in the state is expected to elevate into an elite category with an eye-opening $650 million in betting and online revenues in its first year. Some estimates see the sports betting market hit between $4 billion to $6 billion once the market fully matures.
Those figures are reliant on strong mobile contributions, similar to what is happening in New Jersey and Pennsylvania where nearly 90% of the $1.3 billion taken in by the two states combined in just October alone, was from betting apps. As of now, there are three commercial casinos and 23 tribal casinos, all of which have shown a willingness and eagerness to launch an online sportsbook.
Michigan boasts a population of 10 million (10th in the Nation) and healthy pro sports betting infrastructure. There are the Detroit Lions of the NFL, the Detroit Pistons of the NBA, the Detroit Tigers of MLB, the Detroit Red Wings of the NHL, and two major collegiate programs the Michigan Wolverines and Michigan State Spartans calling the sports-crazed state home.
Missing the Mobile Boat?
There is still time to get something done by the end of the year with regard to the Michigan mobile sports betting issue. Right now, there is another 15-day stretch of hearings on the matter of mobile sports betting set. But with casinos forced to shutter again, COVID-19 is threatening, once again to derail mobile sports betting plans.
There is no shortage of supporters for an expedited mobile wagering platform for Michigan. “Mobile wagering should be the major revenue driver for Michigan’s sports betting market,” said Geoff Fisk, an analyst for MichiganSharp.com. “The convenience and ease of access of online sports betting opens up a whole new world of opportunities for both bettors and sportsbook operators.”
Operators Lining Up
Michigan already has Penn National, BetMGM, and one of the two DFS giants operating in the state with other Heavyweight eager to join the fray. But that won’t likely happen until a mobile platform for the state is launched.
The two biggest DFS providers in the country have launched pre-registration offers already, prior to even getting approval to operate in the state and many more companies are lining up for their shot at one of the most anticipated markets in quite some time.
Michigan will be among the legal sports betting Heavyweight, but it is going to take a little more time to get there. It will remain a fluid situation indeed and be totally reliant on the unpredictable COVID situation in the country. Stay tuned.