Study Finds Michigan Has Among Lowest Problem Gambling Rates

As Michigan weighs online casino and sports betting, a new study found that the state is doing a good job with problem gambling.

The Wolverine State is moving toward online casino gaming and sports betting, and a new study has indicated that the state is currently one of the best in the nation in terms of a relatively low rate of problem gaming. It’s a reminder that Michigan should keep up what it’s already doing.

Per WalletHub, Michigan currently ranks best in the country in terms of percentage of adults with a “gambling disorder,” beating out Kentucky, Florida, Connecticut, New York, and New Mexico.

Overall, when accounting for other factors such as treatment available, Michigan is no. 46 among the states. The lower the ranking the better. Nevada was dubbed the “most gambling-addicted state.”

Here are the the states that rank better overall than Michigan, which ranks no. 44:

  • 45. Arizona
  • 46. Alabama
  • 47. Nebraska
  • 48. Alaska
  • 49. Florida
  • 50. Utah

Both Utah and Alaska have virtually no gambling.

In 2016, an estimated 0.5% of Michigan adults (about 38k people) were believed to have a gambling disorder, according to the National Council on Problem Gambling.

Michigan gaming market

The positive findings come despite Michigan’s commercial casino gaming market being at record levels.

In 2018, the Detroit casino market saw a record $1.44 billion in gaming revenue, up 1.4% compared to the previous high set in 2011. It was a modest record, if you consider inflation, but gamblers are, on paper, spending more than ever before on casino gaming entertainment.

In March, the three Detroit casinos won a combined $140.3 mm from slots, table games and poker, a new single-month record for the properties. The old record of $138.6 mm was set in March 2018.

In addition to those facilities, the state has two dozen tribal casinos sprinkled around the state. Furthermore, Michigan has an online lottery.

New revenues

Michigan has the potential to realize annual sports betting handle of about $7 billion, generating several hundred millions of dollars in taxable gaming revenues. Its online casino market could also be on New Jersey’s level. The Garden State saw $298.7 mm in online gaming win in 2018 (doesn’t include online sports betting), and the market for those games is still showing strong growth.

Despite the apt comparison, Michigan officials are wary of formulating their own market project. According to a fiscal note for the legislation:

“Determining a fiscal impact is difficult in both scope and magnitude due to the financial, legal, and tax structure of the Michigan gaming industry; the dynamic interplay between the different types of gaming offered in Michigan (commercial casinos, tribal casinos, and a state-run lottery); and the relatively small sample size of states that have legalized internet casino gaming (Delaware [2012], Nevada [2013], and New Jersey [2013]). Additionally, casino revenues are affected by economic conditions, societal trends, expansion of gaming in other states, and the offering of alternative gaming opportunities, all of which make differentiating between correlation and causation when reviewing other states difficult.”

Michigan left out Pennsylvania (2017) and West Virginia (2019) in the list of iGaming states. Pennsylvania is expected to kick off in July, while West Virginia could kick off early next year.

Under the Michigan internet gaming bill, an additional $1 mm annually would go to the state’s Compulsive Gaming Prevention Fund, which we find necessary as Michigan residents would have even more ready access to gaming verticals than they do now.

Michigan already spends more than $2 mm annually on problem gambling help.


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