- Michigan online gambling exceeding expectations since January launch
- April iGaming and sports betting revenues hint at big things to come
- Anti-gambling activists cry foul because of course they do
Michigan’s gambling expansion – one of the most robust measures in the country – is generating some comically conflicting headlines.
From ABC: “Four months into online gambling, Michigan seeing big payoff”
From MLive: “‘We’re going to have a mess here:’ Signs of a rise in problem gambling apparent in Michigan”
First, let’s take the former.
As you’re probably aware, Michigan passed an omnibus gambling expansion bill last year, with online sports betting and online casino gambling launching in January 2021.
Online poker, which is also approved by the new MI gambling law, has yet to launch, though the framework is there and domestic online poker rooms are pending.
Per Richard Kalm, Executive Director of the Michigan Gaming Control Board, the revenue from the first several months of these new gambling operations has exceeded expectations.
“Platforms allowing people to not only bet on sports but play online slots, online blackjack and games of chance online, that’s where the real revenue is for the state.”
For insight into exactly how much money online gambling has generated for Michigan, you needn’t look further than the latest monthly revenue report.
In April, Michigan iGaming operators (i.e. online casino game vendors) contributed $17.8 million in tax revenue, while local sportsbooks poured in a comparatively meager $186,939.
Of course, that’s because the house take on sports betting is minimal compared to typical rakes on other gambling games.
Naturally, that news is tempered with the other headline above, which decries a seeming surge in gambling addiction calls.
Per MLive, therapists and counselors are really concerned.
Steven Booker, operator of Christian Counseling Services in Genesee County, is doing yeoman’s work with the typical fearmongering:
“We’re going to have a mess here, man. I already have my gamblers calling me saying, you know, I’ve seen these ads on TV and I’m thinking about getting on my phone and downloading them.”
Indeed, calls to MI-based gambling addiction help lines are “way up” year-over-year.
In April 2020, when most casinos were closed and domestic online gambling wasn’t a thing, only 102 people used such services for assistance.
In April 2021, some 386 have made the call!
Yes, the anti-gambling lobby is doing its best Chicken Little to decry an industry that provides thousands of jobs and tens of millions of dollars in infrastructural assistance to the state because 0.00387% of the population allegedly expressed some nebulous concern.
And MLive itself is a worse offender still, leading their activism with this attempt at tugging heartstrings:
“Problem gambling can lead to lying, stealing, desperation and a quick descent into the lonely depths of addiction, therapists say. The worst cases end in bankruptcy, foreclosures, theft, broken families, jail and suicide.”
It’s all nonsense, of course.
Otherwise, we’d have real numbers instead of hypothetical situations.
Michigan has self-exclusion policies baked into the law, and adults are free to make their own financial and lifestyle choices.
If they’re at least 21.
If you’re younger than that, of course, you can’t gamble in the state legally.
Fortunately, for 18+ US gamblers in MI, real-money gambling is available at the best online US casinos, online US poker rooms, and online US sportsbooks, all of which never extend players credit so you can’t risk more than you can afford to lose.