It has been a long road from the U. S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn PASPA, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, in 2018. In that time, many states have enacted laws regarding iGamng, while others have gone the full route and passed online casino regulations, online poker, and sports betting. So, with the close of 2023, who is the biggest market among the six states that offer those mentioned activities? It might surprise you, but it is the state of Michigan.

Wagers of Almost $2 BILLION

According to information from the American Gaming Association, Michigan is the most lucrative market in the U. S. for online gaming, jumping over 22% in action between 2022 and 2023. In the 2023 calendar year, the Wolverine State accounted for $1.92 billion in wagers from Michiganders, eclipsing the state that had held that honor since the 2018 SCOTUS decision, New Jersey. The Garden State did not go down without a fight, however, coming up only $115,000 short of Michigan on the tout sheet.

The benefits of the wagering have been extremely impactful to Michigan’s tax revenues. In 2023, internet gaming alone pulled in $354 million. That is a huge increase over what experts said the revenues would be, which was estimated at $30-$40 million. Those revenues go to fund several areas throughout the state budget, including $18 million to the School Aid Fund, which goes to educating the state’s K-12 public school students.

Michigan’s online gaming operations have only been active since 2021, but the substantial revenues that are coming in have led many experts to adjust their estimations of future revenues. These experts say it could be as soon as 2026 that more than a half billion in revenues could come from online gaming operations. The addition of online gaming has allowed Michigan to climb into the Top Five in the U. S. regarding casino gaming overall.

Nevada has long been the leader in casino gaming, bringing in $15.5 billion in wagers in 2023. The was a tie for a distant second between New Jersey and Pennsylvania ($5.8 billion), while New York made a surprise appearance in fourth place ($4.7 billion). Michigan now is in the top five, with wagers of $3.6 billion in 2023.

Another State Potentially Eyeing iGaming

The success of states with online poker, casino gaming, and sports betting (38 states offer some form of internet-based gaming) has led to other state legislatures looking to enact their own regulations. In the state of Maryland, which opened sports betting last year, legislators in the General Assembly are examining whether an expansion into iGaming would be good for the state’s coffers. Last week, the Maryland House Ways and Means conducted hearings on the subject, with some astonishing numbers being bandied about.

A commissioned study by the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency noted that, by regulating the industry in the state, $300 million in revenues could be generated by 2029. Surprisingly, however, the state’s biggest casino operation, Maryland Live!, is against the online expansion, with Mark Stewart, the executive vice president of The Cordish Companies, not offering any reasons for the casino’s objections to iGaming legislation passing. Despite the objections from Maryland Live!, two other casino operations in the state, MGM Resorts and Horseshoe Baltimore, were supportive of the measure.

Even though there is discussion in Maryland on the issue, it is not expected that the proposed legislation will reach the floor of the General Assembly in time for the 2024 elections. That would be the first step for any proposals regarding iGaming in the state, which would then put the issue up in front of the voters in a referendum. Getting the conversation started is important, however, as it may come up in future legislative sessions.

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