Matt Schoch, lead writer for PlayMichigan.com, talks about the upcoming arrival of sports betting online in Michigan and the impact of the pandemic on the retail launch in the state.
Later today, the Michigan Gaming Control Board will hold a public hearing for the launch of online gambling in the state, anticipated to be around Thanksgiving.
Retail sports betting in the state started in March of this year with three commercial casinos offering sportsbooks operations, the numbers being greatly impacted by the arrival of the pandemic over spring and Summer. Tribal casinos are also opening up in the state, with there eventually being 23.
When asked what people can expect when online sports betting launches in the state, Schoch looked to the success of states that have already launched, such as New Jersey and Illinois. He highlighted that in New Jersey ‘over 80% of the bets come in from the online markets’ with Illinois turning over ‘big numbers’ for online when compared to retail. Schoch believes ‘all indications are that Michigan will be just like that’.
“I would expect a huge majority of the bets to come in from online and for big numbers to come here in Michigan.” Hinting bad winter weather and the pandemic could also influence people’s decisions to move online ‘no one wants to drive to a retail sportsbook if they don’t have to.’
Michigan’s relationship with tribal gaming will set an example to the country according to Schoach who states lessons will be learnt in Michigan which people will ‘take across the country’. He emphasised: “You had these tribal casinos that were already operating and were in their sovereign nations that they had that weren’t really dealing with the Michigan Gaming Control Board.
“Now you have those operators who are going to take bets from across the state, the Michigan Gaming Control Board has to get involved in the rule making and be involved in that entire process.
“When we get launched and how this goes, it will be interesting for other tribes across the country to look at what certain tribes in Michigan do right and what did maybe certain tribes in Michigan do wrong, what lessons can be learnt from that.
“Not only the numbers that are coming in but also how the tribes feel about things went down, not only legislatively but also in practise with sports betting and online casinos happening. There’s probably going to be the biggest lessons that people take across the country from what’s happening here in Michigan.”