20 down. 30 to go.
Michigan sports bettors received an early Christmas gift yesterday as the Great Lakes State voted to legalize sports betting. The Lawful Sports Betting Act was passed by an overwhelming vote in both the House (35-3) and the Senate (100-8). The bill will allow online betting and also legalizes iGaming and Daily Fantasy Sports. Governor Gretchen Whitmer is expected to sign the bill into law early next week.
Michigan sports betting will be taxed at 8.4% and the bulk of the revenue will go to funding public schools. The goal is to have legal betting up and running in time for the 2020 Super Bowl or by March Madness. Sports bettors will also be able to bet in person at any of the 26 in-state and tribal casinos once operating licenses are issued.
This is a watershed moment for two reasons. First, Michigan is a hugely populous state with a rich pro and college sports tradition. There are millions of diehard Lions, Tigers, Red Wings and Pistons fans thirsty to bet legally on sports. Michigan's population is roughly 10 million, making it the 10th most populous state in the country.
Second, Michigan now becomes the 20th state to legalize betting. This means 40% of the country is now legal. It's incredible to think how quickly legalized betting has moved since PASPA, the federal ban on sports betting, was overturned by the Supreme Court in May of 2018.
For those keeping score, here is the full list of legal betting states: Nevada, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Rhode Island, West Virginia, Mississippi, New Mexico, New York, Arkansas, Oregon, Iowa, Indiana, Montana, Tennessee, Illinois, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Colorado and now Michigan.
Thursday's betting slate features 4 NBA games, 12 NHL games, 4 College Basketball games and, of course, Thursday Night Football. For an updated betting breakdown of Thursday's action, be sure to tune in to the VSiN Market Insights Podcast with Josh Appelbaum. It will be posted at 3:30 p.m. ET.
Now let's take a look at where the money is flowing for tonight's NFL Week 15 opener.
8:20 p.m. ET: New York Jets (5-8) at Baltimore Ravens (11-2)
This Thursday Night showdown looks like the ultimate mismatch on paper. The Jets are 5-8 while the mighty Ravens are 11-2, tied for the best record in the NFL. However, aside from a hiccup in Cincinnati two weeks ago (Jets lost 22-6 as 2.5-point favorites), New York has won four of their last five, most recently beating the Dolphins 22-21 on a last second field goal last Sunday (but failing to cover as 5-point favorites). The Jets are -75 in point differential, averaging 17.38 PPG on offense and giving up 23.15 PPG on defense. The Ravens have won nine games in a row, including last week's 24-17 win over the Bills as a 6.5-point road dog. Baltimore is the clear cut Super Bowl favorite (currently plus 240 at Circa Sports). The Ravens are plus 194 in point differential, best in the NFL, averaging 33.08 PPG on offense and giving up 18.15 PPG on defense. The Jets are 5-8 ATS while the Ravens are 7-5-1 ATS.
This line opened with Baltimore listed as a 14.5-point home favorite. Two thirds of bets, both sharp and public, are laying the points with the Ravens. This lopsided support has pushed the line up to 16.5. Many books were off the board initially as Lamar Jackson was questionable with a quad injury. However, Jackson has been upgraded to probable and will play.
The Jets have value as a road dog and a big road dog with a lower end total. Road dogs plus 11 or more with a total of 46 or less are 130-92 ATS (58.6%) since 2003 according to Bet Labs Sports. Big December dogs plus 12 or more are 57% ATS. However, Thursday Night home favorites have an edge in the short week, going 72-50 ATS (59%). Big Thursday Night favorites -13 or more are 8-2 ATS (80%).
Two-thirds of bets are taking the over, but the total has barely budged from 44.5 to 45. Primetime unders are 27-16 (63%) this season. The forecast calls for low 30s with 5 MPH winds. The Jets are 7-6 to the under this season and the Ravens are 7-6 to the over. John Hussey is the lead official. Home teams are 54.2% ATS with Hussey as the head ref and unders are 58.3%.