MI Online Sportsbooks Will Launch With No Big Ten Football To Bet On

Written By Matt Schoch on August 11, 2020Last Updated on August 18, 2020

One of the main pillars of the Michigan sports betting market has fallen for the fall.

The Detroit professional sports scene has long been a desolate space of sadness.

But one of the main reasons Michigan is an attractive sports gambling market is its passionate and loyal college sports fan bases.

With Michigan and Michigan State and the college football season at the forefront, it’s easy to see a world where fall Saturdays translate to big-time money on sports gambling apps and in retail sportsbooks.

And just like the 2020 seasons for the Wolverines and Spartans, that market has been shelved.

The Big Ten announced in a statement Tuesday that fall sports are postponed. The league will evaluate playing sports, including football, in the spring.

This after a whirlwind of reports from Monday, and the state’s most prominent college football figure’s attempts to salvage it.

Betting on in-state college teams legal in Michigan

Unlike in Illinois, where you can’t bet on the in-state college teams, everything is fair game in Michigan. That doesn’t matter with no games to bet on though.

In addition to the Big Ten, the state’s Mid-American Conference football teams (Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan and Western Michigan) will not play this season.

Michigan does not offer legalized betting on NCAA divisions lower than Football Bowl Subdivision. Not that it’s likely to matter: Those levels are in varying stages of canceling their seasons too.

Initial estimates had the state benefiting from $19 million of increased tax revenue per year after the legalization of sports betting and internet gaming, according to the Michigan Department of Treasury.

College football betting could be 15% of market

Michigan is gearing for a fall launch of online sports betting. The estimates for the market are wide but there’s no doubt college football would have been a big part.

Without historical data, it’s mostly speculative to guess on the Michigan market. But industry estimates peg college football handle at about 10-15% of the total sports betting market. It could even ultimately be bigger in the Great Lakes State.

Of course, there’s a reasonable argument to be made that increased NFL betting could help mitigate that loss for sportsbooks. That is, if the pros ultimately play.

It’s expected that other major college football conference will eventually cancel their seasons too. However, Southeastern Conference football could be among the last dominoes to fall, if it falls at all.

UM’s Harbaugh spoke up in favor of football season

Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh does not stand in solidarity with the conference’s decision.

The enigmatic lightning rod coach spoke out Monday as news broke that the Big Ten season was on the ropes.

Harbaugh released a statement detailing the mostly successful testing in Ann Arbor with hopes of spreading their protocols and prevent more COVID-19 spread.

“We have developed a great prototype for how we can make this work and provide the opportunities for players to play,” Harbaugh wrote. “If you are transparent and follow the rules, this is how it can be done.”

Harbaugh said Michigan football has had 11 positive tests out of 893 administered, including zero positives in the last 353.

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Matt Schoch

A Michigan native, Matt has worked at newspapers in Michigan, Missouri and the Virgin Islands. A versatile sports reporter, Matt has covered sailing on the Great Lakes, cricket in the Caribbean, high school and pro playoffs, and the Olympics in Rio. He’s also the former host of the Locked On Pistons Podcast and producer of a documentary on Emoni Bates. A former blackjack dealer, Matt has studied the industry from all sides.

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