How Are Michigan Credit Unions Handling Online Gambling Legalization?

Online gambling in Michigan started in January 2021. Since then, the sector has not shown signs of slowing down. Michigan residents had waited long enough to be allowed to play online poker, table games, sports betting, and slots. They make deposits using their credit/debit cards, bank transfers, mobile money, and other methods. Even as the residents celebrate the thriving gambling sector, Michigan credit unions are treading cautiously.

Increase in transactions

Michigan is home to 199 credit unions which serve 5.87 million members. The Union’s CEOs noted that only a few weeks after Michigan online casinos were launched, the number of transactions drastically increased. Carma Peter, the CEO of Legacy Credit Union, said the Union recorded 1,200 transactions worth nearly $83,000 within the first two weeks. Carman and many other CEOs quickly put strict restrictions on online gambling-related services.

Too much risk

The credit unions feel there is too much risk involved with online gambling. The state government is pleased with the online gambling progress due to the taxes it’s earning. Financial institutions are also benefiting from credit and debit transaction charges. However, credit unions have a different view. They feel their members might lack conscious gambling and keep increasing their debts.

Carma Peters says the Union she heads denied members from using credit and debit cards for online gambling. She noted they observed their members were taking too much risk and increasing debts. The debts were sending red alerts to the Union, and they could not afford debt write-offs.

Problem gambling could be on the rise

Michigan was one of the states that were quick to pass legalization laws after US sports betting became legal in 2019. Some credit unions were quick to make restrictions, but others were slower to act. Regardless, most of them to date feel their members could be affected by problem gambling.

Karen Browne, the CEO of TBA Credit Union, said the Union does its best to keep its members informed. However, they have concerns about the intensive advertisements the online casinos are making. She said problem gambling could take their members deeper into debt, but this is something the Union is closely monitoring.

Monitoring but not restrictive

Not every credit union is restricting its members from using credit and debit cards for gambling. In September 2022, Michigan online betting reported a combined revenue of $176.5 million. In 2021, the sector reported a combined $1.4 billion in gross receipts. Despite these impressive records, the unions in the state are still cautious.

Karen Church, the CEO of ELGA Credit Union, said their members wagered $1.1 million within the first two months of legal online betting in Michigan. The Michigan State University Federal Credit Union decided to engage in creating awareness instead of being restrictive. They allow their members to use their cards for online gambling, but they closely monitor the transactions. The Union’s chief marketing officer Deidre Davis said they go out of the way to assist their members if they notice they are mismanaging their accounts.

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