Last week, the Michigan legislature passed an online gambling bill in the eleventh hour of its legislative session. A pending signature from Gov. Rick Snyder is now the only thing standing in the way of full legalization.
Should the bill cross the finish line — something that seems likely — Michigan will become the fifth state with legal online gambling. And it’s already one of the 11 that offers online lottery products. The Michigan online lottery is arguably the most robust in the country.
So why are states increasingly turning to online gambling?
The top-line answer, of course, is revenue. But as New Jersey and other early adopters have learned, the economic benefits of online gambling don’t stop there.
Direct revenue may be the primary driver of states’ interest in online gambling, but it’s just the tip of the economic iceberg.
While the NJ online gambling industry is on pace to generate close to $300 million in 2018, it has also:
These things are rarely mentioned in the discussions surrounding online gambling.
Another one that is perhaps more beneficial and receives even less attention is job creation.
Any perception that online gambling is a job killer is simply wrong. According to a June 2017 white paper from iDevelopment and Economic Association (iDEA), it is a job creator.
The paper, entitled “Economic Impact of New Jersey Online Gaming: Lessons Learned,” came to the conclusion that the NJ online gambling industry is responsible for 3,375 jobs and $218.9 million in employee wages. Keep in mind that the iDEA numbers covered 2014-2016 and don’t include the reopening of two casinos in 2018.
“These jobs were not created by legislative quotas but rather by capital and human resource investments in competitive markets,” Gene Johnson, executive vice president at Victor Strategies and co-author of the white paper told Online Poker Report.
Tallies include 821 direct jobs with casinos and gaming suppliers, along with another 2,552 indirect and induced full-time equivalent positions.
Johnson expects to see numbers in Michigan that rival those from New Jersey.
“iGaming generated close to $1 billion in total positive economic impact over the first three years following implementation in New Jersey,” he said. “If iGaming is legalized and regulated in Michigan, the state should see similar benefits.”
While New Jersey’s early adoption brought some overseas businesses into the state, Johnson also noted that it suffered through growing pains as a brand new industry.
“Michigan can avoid those teething pains and benefit from the New Jersey experience,” he said, “borrowing the best aspects as a template for its own development.”
Online gambling will no doubt bolster Michigan’s land-based casino industry and send tens of millions of dollars to the state. Those benefits will be apparent to all. But as it has in New Jersey, online gambling should also create thousands of new jobs for Michiganders.