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Michigan Sees Huge Spike in September Sports Betting Activity

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Pennsylvania saw a boost in sports betting revenue in September. Photo courtesy Ethan Miller/Getty Images via AFP.

September was supposed to bring with it some relief for a U.S. legal sports betting scene that suffered through an awful seasonal summer slump. Well, September came in with a bang and even set records in a few key jurisdictions around the country. We can add Michigan to the list of states that set a new high-water mark for their sports betting scene.

Michigan joins Illinois and Indiana as states that saw their highest ever wagering handle thanks to the return of both pro and college football. Online casino action in Michigan also topped $100 million for the first time, making it just the third state to ever reach those lofty goals.

“The potency of a full football schedule and access to online betting is unmatched,” Eric Ramsey, an analyst for the PlayUSA.com Network, said. “September will raise expectations for the industry, and the bar was already pretty high. The next three months have the potential to bring even more records.”

Getting into Michigan sports betting

While not exactly smashing their all-time handle record, Michigan sportsbooks overshot many analyst expectations for September. Buoyed by just over three weeks of NFL football as well as the beloved Michigan Wolverines and Michigan State Spartans, both of which sit in a top-10 spot in the country, bettors in the state were out in force.

The increased sports betting action gives sportsbooks in Michigan immense optimism that more records will fall before the end of 2021. Too bad about the 0-6 Detroit Lions.

According to the Michigan Gaming Control Board, the state’s sportsbooks took in a record $386.8 million during September. It’s an eye-opening 85.4 percent increase from August’s $208.6 million. September’s figures beat the previous record of $383.7 million from March.

Online leads the way but retail creeping up

Michigan’s mobile betting apps continued to make up the bulk of the money flowing into the state’s sportsbooks. More than $354 million of the $386.8 million in bets was reported by the state’s mobile operators in September. The figure is just off the record $359.5 million in internet-based wagers set in March.

Retail wagering made a dent for the first time since legal sports betting went live in the Great Lakes state. The Michigan scene launched in March 2020, smack in the middle of COVID-19 lockdowns and the subsequent casino closures and capacity limits.

Retail wagering ended up being responsible for $32.5 million of the overall Michigan sports betting handle in September — by far the most for any month since wagering went live 18 months ago. It’s up 99.7 percent from $16.3 million in August.

Michigan sports betting revenues

Gross gaming revenues unsurprisingly followed the trend of increases in the overall Michigan legal sports betting industry. Revenues came in at a healthy $27.1 million in September, up 54.7 percent from the $17.5 million reported in August. Online providers were responsible for $23.7 million in revenues, which represents a 49 percent month-to-month increase.

A total of $690,271 in tax contributions was made to state and local coffers off of Michigan sportsbook profits.

Tip of the iceberg

There seems to be a perfect storm brewing for the Michigan legal sports betting industry. The mobile scene is as healthy as it ever has been, retail wagering at casinos is picking up steam, and online gaming is pushing Michigan’s industry beyond expectations.

According to Ramsey, the exploding popularity of gaming options has analysts giddy about the potential of the Michigan market.

“Live dealer games have pushed online casino gaming to a new level,” he said. “The state’s industry will almost certainly reach $1 billion in revenue in its first year of existence, which is a remarkable milestone for such a young market.”

Matt Schoch, an analyst for PlayMichigan.com, is also optimistic about what’s to come.

“The state’s sportsbooks are in a healthy position,” Schoch said. “And with basketball opening, the industry will continue to grow and mature for the rest of the year.”