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Online gambling off to a big start in Michigan

Casinos are seeing new customers now that online betting is legal in Michigan.

MANISTEE, Mich. — Scott Lengerman can't wait to wager money on college basketball's NCAA tournament next month.

"March Madness is going to be opening up a can of worms this year, we will see how much it takes off. I think the sky is the limit on this," says Lengerman, an avid sports fan.

Online betting is now legal in Michigan and is off to a successful start. According to data from GeoComply, more than 100,000 people in Michigan created online gambling accounts in the first week betting was legal.  

The 10 most popular sites and apps Michiganders are betting on are Draft Kings, Fan Duel, BetMGM, Bet Rivers, Points Bet, Barstool, Golden Nugget, TwinSpires, WynnBet and FoxBet.

"The numbers have been outstanding, not just for us but in general in the state of Michigan," says Jonnie Sam with the Little River Casino in Manistee.

Sam says to create an account you just need to enter your name, email and address. Then you'll be asked to make a deposit.

Many of the apps offer incentives like "bonus money" when you sign up. If you win with the "bonus money," you may be required to bet multiple times again until the app allows you to cash out.

Things can get a little tricky when it comes to reading the betting lines.

"Plus 100 is even money, you bet 200, you win 200," says Sam.

Higher than plus 100 means you are betting on the underdog.  Lower than minus 100 means you are betting on the favorite. Betting on the favorite wins you less money, betting on the underdog wins you more money.

"This one shows this person making a $150 bet at the odds of minus 150 which means they are a pretty prohibitive favorite, which means if this bet wins the potential return is $250, $150 dollars that he bet plus the $100 he makes with the odds for $250 total return," says Sam.

Here are some other common phrases:

Moneyline: One of the simplest bets as you just pick a specific team that you think is going to win the game.

Parlay: When you make at least two or more bets that are tied together, you need multiple events to win. It is risky but also very lucrative.

Point Spread: Placing a bet that a certain team will win the game by a specific number of points.

With so much money flooding websites and apps, Sam says security is a top priority and governed by the Michigan Gaming Control Board.

"They are all covered by the same rules, especially when you make an account and you make a deposit, everything is secure," says Sam.

But even with all that security, it can't keep you safe from yourself. Gambling led Patrick Grilliot down a dark path.

"I would say that I was addicted to gambling for about 10 years; my life was in chaos and I started to lose things," says Grilliot.

That's when a friend urged Patrick to reach out to Gamblers Anonymous where he was able to get his life back on track. Groups like Gamblers Anonymous and other resources are out there to help.

"That's where you can get help and hopefully try to stop gambling," says Grilliot.

Others we talked with say the key is to play within your limits and have a budget.

"Just find a limit or limitation you feel comfortable with and you can afford, whether it's just a 20 dollar college game, but something within your limit that is also fun," says Lengerman.

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