Michigan allowed online gambling platforms (sports betting, casino, and poker) to launch in late January, and so far there’s been plenty of action.
Through April, more than $1.2 billion has been wagered via sports betting alone.
Calls to the Michigan problem gambling hotline number (800-270-7117) have reportedly doubled in months since in a year-over-year comparison, with a high of more than 560 calls in February during the first full month with the platforms. Online gambling advertisements on TV, radio, and the internet have proliferated in the state as operators vie for market position and acquiring new customers.
While hotline numbers have surged, which is likely due in part to more people becoming aware of the hotline for pre-existing problematic gambling behavior, there has also surely been some new or relapsed addiction as a result of the new platforms and their ads.
Not much participation in self-exclusion program
However, according to MLive.com, just three people have so far signed up for the Michigan online gambling self-exclusion list. That pales in comparison to the roughly 4,300 on the Detroit casino self-exclusion list. Detroit began commercial casino gambling more than 20 years ago.
In Michigan, you can self-exclude from either online casinos or online sportsbooks, or both, for a period of one or five years. There are no other options for a length of time.
The lack of participation out of the gate mirrors neighboring Indiana, which kicked off online sports betting (no iCasino, though) in October 2019. From launch through the end of June 2020, just 12 people had voluntarily self-excluded from Indiana online sportsbooks, according to the state’s most recent annual report. There’s also a separate list in Indiana for retail casinos.
Like Michigan, the Indiana online gambling self-exclusion is for one or five years.
There are just under 6,000 active names on the brick-and-mortar casino self-exclusion list in Indiana.
Online gambling is still very new in Michigan, as well as in Indiana. Many people are still getting up to speed that the state-sanctioned apps exist, and that they offer some safeguards against problem gambling. Self-exclusion should pick up over time in Michigan and Indiana.
Some problem gambling advocates have in the past suggested allowing shorter self-exclusions, such as six months, in order to boost participation.