Evolution and expectations of the Michigan gambling market

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Gambling has been legal in Michigan since 1933 when the state passed the Racing Act to regulate horse-racing. The industry evolved along the years as the state continued to work on constitutional amendments to introduce different types of gambling and regulate the state lottery which was launched back in 1972. The revenue was used to aid Michigan’s public schools and non-profit organizations were allowed to raise funds through events and activities by selling charity game tickets and organizing bingo games. 

Going online after a near Decade-Long Push by iGaming Exponents

In the 21st century, Michigan started opening its doors to selling online tickets when in 2014 the state launched the iLottery for instant keno and scratch-off games. Players were allowed to purchase tickets from computers, tablets and mobile phones. The industry continued to expand in 2019 as lawmakers passed numerous bills to legalize online gambling including sports betting and online poker. In March 2020, the first retail sportsbook was launched in Detroit, along with Greektown Casino Hotel, MGM Grand Detroit and MotorCity Casino. Later on in 2020, Michigan launched online casinos, poker sites and sportsbooks which went live on January 22nd 2021. You can see here the list of online casinos available in Michigan.

Revenue highlights

During the first month of launching online casinos, Michigan generated $109.1 million of revenue and collected $14 million state taxes and payments from licensed operators which reported $75.2 million of gross receipts. 

  • The initial application fee for an online gaming licensed operator costs $100,000, accompanied by an annual license fee of $50,000. 

  • Additionally, an online gaming supplier needs to pay an initial fee of $5,000 and can be renewed annually for a fee of $2,500. 

  • The taxes collected from operators are distributed to three different sectors:

    • 30% go to Detroit city services 

    • 65% go to the internet gaming fund 

    • 5% are dedicated to the Michigan agriculture equine industry development fund. In total, the state now has twelve online casinos. 

Regulations to promote Responsible Gambling

Michigan’s gaming law states that a mandatory fund is to be set up to specifically address compulsive gambling, along with other several non-profit organizations which also address gambling problems. The law imposes certain requirements to encourage responsible gaming, and prevent players from engaging into compulsive problematic behaviors. The principles of responsible gambling are to protect vulnerable players, prevent underage gambling, provide a fair gaming experience to all players, ensure that marketing campaigns are ethical and responsible, raise awareness about the risks of gambling and provide an overall safe and secure gambling environment. 

The law imposes a strict prohibition against auto-play features and all games have to show the players how much time they have been playing for to help them keep track of time. Misleading animations on slot machines are prohibited and spinning reels cannot show valuable symbols with greater frequency than the actual game outcomes. Lawmakers also ensured that online slots and large interstate jackpots must have a minimum of 80% return to player as they were concerned about online gaming encroaching on sales for its big draws. The Michigan law (MGCB) also states that you have to be residing in the state in order to play online and be 21 years of age or older. 

About the Michigan sports betting market

In 2020, there were $35.8 million in wagers placed on horse racing betting in Michigan, and this sector continues to expand as sports betting apps went live in January 2021. Mobile sports betting is a huge part of the betting market and continues to gain popularity as sports betting sites make it very easy for users to sign up for an account. The apps require basic standard information and you also need to confirm that you are at least 21 years of age. Apart from creating user friendly apps, one can place a bet from anywhere as all you need to have is internet access. The marketplace is quite competitive and sportsbooks offer some bonuses to their players as a gesture of good will.

  • Free Bets: Certain online sportsbooks will credit you with free funds to be used on their site and players are free to keep and enjoy their winnings if they win.

  • Deposit Bonus: Certain sportsbooks will match your first deposit which can range from a 20% to a 100% match.

  • Risk-free Bets: Following your first deposit, some sites will allow you to place your first bet risk-free.

Players can easily make use of these offers by clicking on exclusive links to create an account and in just a few minutes they will be able to place bets legally with some bonuses to use as rewards.

Online casino bonuses and offers

Online casinos offer several promotions to both new and existing players varying from non-deposit bonuses, first deposit bonuses, cash rebates, and free spins. 

  • Non-Deposit Bonus: Players are given bonuses when they sign up for an account without the need to deposit real money. These usually have a wagering requirement in order to convert the awarded bonus.

  • First Deposit Bonus: As soon as you deposit for the first time, online casinos match up to a certain percentage of your first deposit as a reward which also comes with a wagering requirement. 

  • Cash Rebates: This allows players to gamble with a limited amount of funds for the first week or so on their site, and if you lose, the online casino guarantees your money back. 

  • Free Spins: Players are offered free play in the form of free spins on specified slot machines. 

Expectations for online casinos in Michigan

Online casinos in Michigan continue to raise the bar as they nearly reach $90 million of revenue in March. The state collected $535,930 just from online sports betting taxes and the monthly revenue is expected to continue increasing. 

Since retail casinos were closed, players had no choice but to opt for online gaming. However, even as retail casinos return to business as usual, online casinos are expected to retain their revenue and momentum as they continue to gain popularity. 

The iGaming industry has proven to be very successful across the globe and it showed its strength during the pandemic unlike other major industries like aviation and hospitality which got hit badly in 2020 and have still not recovered. Michigan’s online gambling bill was truly groundbreaking and the state is emerging as top market for sports betting and online gaming as residents continue to show strong interest in internet gaming and sports betting.


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