Gamblers embrace new legalized sports activities betting in Michigan

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SAMUEL BLATCHFORD

Since the summer, all of Michigan’s major sports teams have come back to action. 

And while that may have brought great joy to sports lovers, the season for legalized sports gambling has just opened with authorization for online gaming and sports betting.

Legalization of online sports betting gives gambling access to anyone over 21 with an internet connection, according to the Michigan Gaming Control Board.

Some students at Michigan State University have placed online bets since it became legal to do so. 

Zachary Reibitz is a junior from Walled Lake and just started using the online sports betting app DraftKings. He said he bets mainly on Ultimate Fighting Championship fights and finds online sports betting addictive. 

“You’re always looking for good numbers, good lines to bet on. You can literally look at an app and bet a live line automatically,”  Reibitz said 

Andrew Runge, a sophomore from Downers Grove, Illinois, is relatively new to sports betting. Runge started placing bets with FanDuel the day betting became legal. 

“I’ve been gambling a lot this week,” Runge said. 

He said he finds it entertaining to bet on sports. He also likes the social aspect of betting with friends to see who wins the most money. 

Both Reibitz and Runge said they use their winnings for food purchases and take-out orders. 

Even though some bettors may be excited at the new opportunity, Michael Burke, the executive director of the Michigan Association on Problem Gambling based in Portage, said that allowing online activity has a negative effect on gambling addicts. 

Burke referred to a study by the Clinton Administration that  examined casinos and gambling in 1996. 

The study found that problems will double for people with predisposed gambling problems and who live within 60 miles of a casino. 

Burke said the implications for addiction are higher because of the constant availability of sports gambling. 

“Imagine reducing that radius from 60 miles to 6 to 10 inches,” Burke said.

There are currently seven active tribal casino partnerships with online sports betting platforms in Michigan: 

— The Bay Mills Indian Community – Bay Mills Resort & Casinos in Brimley 

— Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians – Grand Traverse Resort & Casinos in Williamsburg 

— Hannahville Indian Community – Island Resort & Casino in Harris 

— Keweenaw Bay Indian Community – Ojibwa Casino Resort in Baraga

— Little River Band of Ottawa Indians – Little River Casino Resort in Manistee

— Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians – Kewadin Casinos in Sault Ste. Marie

— Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians – Northern Water Casino Resort in Watersmeet 

Three Detroit-area casinos have partnered with different online sports betting platforms. 

MGM Grand Detroit partnered with BetMGM/Roar Digital,  MotorCity casino partnered with FanDuel and Greektown Casino partnered with Penn Sports Interactive/ Barstool Sportsbook. 

According to the Gaming Control Board, the operators will file their monthly revenue report with the agency on Feb. 10 and on the 10th of each following month.