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Analysts say struggling Detroit teams contribute to decline in Michigan's sports betting revenue

Michigan could launch of online sports betting, other games in December
Posted at 12:05 PM, Jun 15, 2021

DETROIT — Michigan’s sports betting volume decreased for the second-straight month in May, while online casinos remained close to the state’s first $100 million revenue month.

The state has become one of the three largest online casino markets in less than five months, according to research from PlayMichigan, which analyzes and researches the state’s regulated online gaming and sports betting market.

“Online casinos don’t face the same dramatic seasonal variances as sports betting does, so they act as a steadying force for the industry,” said Jessica Welman, analyst for PlayMichigan.com. “One the other hand, sportsbooks have been hit by the seasonality of sports betting and struggling local teams. It appears they will have to wait until the end of summer before substantial growth can be expected again.”

Michigan online sportsbooks took in $237.6 million in wagers through the 31 days of May, down 4.9% from $249.9 million over the 30 days of April, according to official data released Tuesday by the Michigan Gaming Control Board.

Combined with $20.2 million in retail handle, which was announced last week, Michigan’s online and retail sportsbooks took in $257.7 million in bets. That total is down 6% from $274.2 million in bets in April.

Gross operator revenue from online betting fell 4.5% to $19.5 million in May from $20.4 million in April.

That produced $9.9 million in taxable revenue, down from $10.9 million, yielding a little under $994,000 in state taxes.

With its 28.5% drop in wagering, Michigan’s April handle was the steepest month-over-month decline among the 10 largest sports betting markets in the U.S.

May’s results so far lag other states that have already reported April data, too.

Iowa’s wagering was down 2.9% in May, for example, while Indiana’s handle rose 7.6%.

PlayMichigan says a slowdown in sports betting from April until the start of football season is inevitable in nearly every state, but Michigan’s decline has been more noticeable because as the initial enthusiasm that came from the launch of online betting began to settle, the sports schedule also waned.

Even more significantly, Detroit’s professional teams that played in April and May – the Pistons, Red Wings and Tigers – all struggled to win games.

“A lack of success from Detroit teams naturally saps interest, and Michigan is facing too many short-term factors to overcome completely,” said Matt Schoch, analyst for PlayMichigan.com. “Despite the declines in betting volume, there aren’t any systemic issues. Even if the Lions’ prospects are equally dim, substantial growth will almost certainly return with the beginning of football season.”

See revenue data for Michigan’s online casinos and poker rooms here.