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Legal sports betting has arrived in Michigan! The first retail sportsbooks went live in March 2020. Mobile sports betting followed almost a year later, on January 22, 2021.
Both retail and online sports betting in Michigan follow almost the same rules as Michigan online casinos and poker rooms. For the most part, the market is quite similar to New Jersey and other full-featured online gambling states.
Its most unusual feature is the one brand per partner limit, while most states allow multiple skins. In large part, this is to guarantee equal opportunities for the state’s many tribal casinos as for the three commercial casinos in Detroit. At this point, most of the available partnerships are already accounted for, so there will be limited opportunity for additional brands to enter the market down the line.
A package of gambling bills beat the buzzer in 2019, clearing the state legislature in December and receiving a signature from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer just a few days before Christmas. That made the Wolverine State the 20th to legalize sports betting and the fifth to authorize all of the “big three” online verticals – sports, casino and poker.
Unfortunately, that all happened a year later than expected. A similar bill passed at the end of 2018, but then-Gov. Rick Snyder vetoed it as one of his final acts in office. Retail betting launched in the state in March 2020. Mobile betting, along with other online verticals, followed in January 2021.
As of July 2021, almost all the expected brands are operational:
Only two have yet to launch:
The latter has not launched any online gambling products at all. However, the Play Gun Lake Online Casino launched in April and the sportsbook should follow soon.
Michigan online sports betting was legalized at the end of 2019, but didn’t launch right away. Retail sportsbooks launched in March 2020, but online betting required more regulatory preparation. After a failed attempt to get it off the ground before the year was out, the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) finally announced an official launch date of January 22, 2021.
The laws and tax rates for sports betting in Michigan are middle of the road and reasonably friendly to operators and bettors alike. As with most states to have legalized online gambling, any company wishing to operate in that space needs a land-based partner. The only unusual thing about Michigan compared to other states is that each casino can only have one online sports betting partner. Fortunately, with over two dozen tribal casinos statewide, plus three commercial casinos in Detroit, there are plenty of potential partners to go around.
10 online brands all launched on the first day, making it the biggest synchronized launch in US history. All but one of these also launched an associated online casino, with Barstool Sportsbook being the only exception. There won’t be a Barstool casino product, but its majority owner Penn National will launch an online casino soon, under the Hollywood brand.
Here are some of the most important online/mobile sportsbooks that either have launched in Michigan, or are expected soon.
The first operator to announce a deal in the state was The Stars Group (TSG), which owns PokerStars and formed the Fox Bet sports betting brand in partnership with Fox Sports. TSG’s strategy in Pennsylvania was to pick a smaller partner — Mount Airy Casino — so as not to create conflicts with its own brand. In Michigan, it has done the same, choosing the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians and their Odawa Casino Resort. This is only the fourth largest of the state’s tribal casinos, and significantly smaller than the commercial casinos.
The announcement came in the first week of 2020. TSG was a latecomer to the New Jersey market and also faced delays in Pennsylvania last year. In Michigan, too, it failed to launch on day one, but is expected to arrive much sooner here than in those other states.
PokerStars is far and away online poker’s most popular brand, and its casino has done fairly well in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Fox Bet, however, is a new brand and still working to wrest market share away from better-established competitors like FanDuel and DraftKings. Its partnership with Fox Sports gives it a considerable reach, however, and it’s growing rapidly as a national brand.
Just hours after Fox Bet, PointsBet threw its hat in the ring. Despite being an Australian company, it describes itself as America’s fastest-growing bookmaker. Its main selling point is its eponymous points betting product, which allows for variable costs and payouts based on the margin by which a bet succeeds or misses. For example, the amount a player wins or loses when placing a points bet on the game total will depend on the margin by which the game’s score exceeds or falls short of the line.
PointsBet’s partnership is with the Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians and their Northern Waters Casino Resort. At the time the deal was announced, it covered online sports betting and casino only. However, it is expected to open a retail sportsbook at Northern Waters in short order.
PointsBet currently offers online sports betting in Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan and New Jersey, and is gradually launching an online casino product as well. Michigan was its first state for that vertical.
Later in January, Scientific Games (SG) became the third to confirm its upcoming entry to the state. Its land-based partner is FireKeepers, one of the state’s largest tribal casinos, which is owned and operated by the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of Potawatomi.
Unlike Fox Bet and PointsBet, SG is a business-to-business company, providing software to companies wishing to operate under their own brand. In other states, that includes clients such as Golden Nugget, Caesars and the Pennsylvania Lottery. The deal, therefore, signals FireKeepers’ intention to use its own name for its online sportsbook and casino. Scientific Games will also operate its retail sportsbook.
Like other self-branded tribal operators, it did not go live immediately on launch day, but arrived in July 2021.
Caesars now has a sportsbook in Michigan thanks to Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians (GTB).
GTB’s primary retail sportsbook is at the larger of its two gambling properties, Turtle Creek Casino and Hotel, with a satellite location at the nearby Leelanau Sands Casino. Caesars operates both after taking over William Hill, which originally launched sports betting in state via these relationships.
Although it held off on making an official announcement, it was always more or less a given that BetMGM would have both retail and online sports betting and an online casino in the state. The MGM Grand is one of the three Detroit commercial casinos, and MGM Resorts has established a joint venture with international gambling titan GVC. That partnership is called Roar Digital, and the BetMGM brand is a part of that.
On March 11, BetMGM opened its retail sportsbook at the MGM Grand. It was also among the operators to launch their mobile products on day one.
BetMGM already operated both retail and online sportsbooks in Nevada, New Jersey and West Virginia, plus an online-only sportsbook in Pennsylvania. It should launch in more states soon.
Unlike some of the others, FanDuel Sportsbook held off on making an announcement until just before launching retail operations. The same day that BetMGM and Penn National went live, it revealed that it would be providing sports betting for MotorCity Casino. It began its operations the following day. It launched its mobile sportsbook on January 22, 2021, as well as an online casino through this same partnership.
FanDuel Sportsbook is one of the most prolific in the country. It also offers mobile betting in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Indiana. It has retail sportsbooks in all those states, plus Iowa and New York.
Like FanDuel, DraftKings Sportsbook has been very successful in converting its reputation as a DFS site into success in the more traditional sports betting space. It held off on announcing its partnership much longer than some competitors, but ultimately revealed that it would enter the state through a deal with Bay Mills Resort.
It is the most prolific online sportsbook in the US, present in 11 states already, not even counting those states where it has a retail presence, but which haven’t yet legalized mobile betting.
Penn National owns the Greektown Casino in Detroit. It was therefore a given that it would go with one of its partners for its online sportsbook. There was some speculation that this would end up being DraftKings, but instead it seems more likely that it will be Barstool Sports, with whom it partnered just this January.
Penn National already has multiple sportsbooks in other states, both retail and online. It typically uses partners’ branding for them, however. None with the Barstool brand have yet launched, but the first retail location is expected in West Virginia shortly.
Greektown opened a retail sportsbook in March, simply called “The Sportsbook.” It was understood that this was temporary, however, and it ultimately switched its branding to Barstool Sportsbook, to match the online product it launched on January 22, 2021.
Michigan retail betting arrived well in advance of the online option. Despite remaining silent through the first two months of the year, all three of Detroit’s commercial casinos launched their sportsbooks in quick succession on March 11 and 12.
MGM’s sportsbook uses the BetMGM brand, as one would expect. Greektown’s is currently just called “The Sportsbook,” but should be a Barstool Sportsbook once that brand launches. MotorCity Casino’s is a FanDuel Sportsbook.
The intention behind the mid-March launch was to get up and running in time for NCAA basketball’s March Madness. Concerns surrounding the global coronavirus pandemic may yet lead that tournament to be postponed or cancelled, however.
Tribal casinos waited a bit longer to launch their sportsbooks, and not all have yet done so. These are expected later in the year, perhaps in time for the beginning of the NFL season if that proceeds as originally planned.
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Here are answers to some common questions about online sports betting in Michigan.
Retail sports betting was legalized in December 2019, and the first sportsbooks became operational in March 2020. At the moment, the three commercial casinos in Detroit are the only places you can legally place bets in the state.
The situation in Michigan is currently the same for online sports betting as it is for retail. The activity was legalized in December 2019, but bettors in the state had to wait until January 2021 before being able to wager this way.
Three retail sportsbooks are already live at the Detroit casinos. Tribal casinos began to join them over the summer of 2020, followed by mobile apps and websites in early 2021.
Sports betting in Michigan is open to any eligible person 21 years or older who is physically present in the state. It is not necessary to be a state resident in order to bet. Standard exclusions apply, for instance, to anyone directly involved in the sport in question or to those who’ve requested self-exclusion.
Most of the state’s casinos will eventually have retail sports betting, and many do already. That includes three commercial casinos in Detroit, and a growing number of the state’s two dozen tribal casinos.
No. You can register for Michigan’s online sportsbooks directly through the website or app.
Yes. Michigan’s sports betting law doesn’t contain any special restrictions on college sports, including the state’s own teams.
License applications cost $50,000 upon submission, $100,000 upon approval, and $50,000 annually thereafter. The state tax rate is 8.5% of gross revenue. Detroit’s commercial casinos pay an additional 1.25% to the city.
Michigan sports betting tax revenue is earmarked for a variety of purposes. The largest single beneficiary is the state’s School Aid Fund, which will receive about a quarter of what is expected to be almost $20 million in annual tax revenues.
Like all forms of gambling, the Michigan Gaming Control Board oversees sports betting in the state.
Michigan Gaming Control Board
3062 West Grand Boulevard, Suite L-700
Detroit, MI 48202-6062
Email: [email protected]