Sportsbooks in Michigan and the legion of Big Ten football fans received a shot in the arm on Wednesday when the Power-5 conference announced a planned late October season start, and an 8-game season for each team.
Michigan already has plenty of retail sports betting locations live, between the tribal casinos and Detroit commercial casinos. Online/mobile sportsbooks are expected to launch in the coming months as regulations are nearing completion.
While the NFL season is proceeding as usual (only without fans or a limited number), the forthcoming MI mobile sportsbooks suffered a blow with the Big Ten conference deciding to postpone its season indefinitely about a month ago. According to a press release, the eight-game season will involve plenty of COVID-19 precautions, many of which the general public is accustomed to by now.
BREAKING: (AP) — Big Ten reverses course, announces plan to play football beginning Oct. 24 weekend; 8-game season for each team.
— MPR News (@MPRnews) September 16, 2020
“Everyone associated with the Big Ten should be very proud of the groundbreaking steps that are now being taken to better protect the health and safety of the student-athletes and surrounding communities,” Dr. Jim Borchers, Ohio State University’s head team physician and co-chair of the Return to Competition Task Force medical subcommittee, said in a statement. “The data we are going to collect from testing and the cardiac registry will provide major contributions for all 14 Big Ten institutions as they study COVID-19 and attempt to mitigate the spread of the disease among wider communities.”
It is worth noting that the earliest a player could return to game competition is 21 days following a COVID-19 positive diagnosis. The daily testing will begin by Sept. 30.
Timeline for launch
The Big Ten Council of Presidents and Chancellors (COP/C) adopted significant medical protocols and has voted unanimously to resume the football season starting the weekend of October 23-24, 2020: https://t.co/b5yHShGb1D
— Big Ten Conference (@bigten) September 16, 2020
The earliest possible launch for Michigan online/mobile sports betting appears to be around Thanksgiving, meaning that the apps would probably miss half the season in a best-case scenario. Still, any Michigan and Michigan State games would be great news for to-be-licensed sportsbooks eager to go in the state.
Ohio has yet to legalize sports wagering, so many Ohio State fans will also surely travel into Michigan to wager (and also into Indiana, which began sports betting in 2019).
It is possible Michigan fails to kick off mobile gambling during the abbreviated eight-game season. The Big Ten announcement, while beneficial to the industry and the state, will likely have no impact on the process of authorizing books for launch. Regulators have already been working as fast as possible.