Published in Economic Development

‘New era’ for Michigan casinos as online sports betting, casino gaming goes live Jan. 22

BY Tuesday, January 19, 2021 03:49pm

Online sports betting and casino gaming will go live statewide beginning on Friday at noon.

The Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) announced the authorization for nine operators and their tribally or commercially owned casino partners on Tuesday.

With the launch, betters will be able to sign up for an account and both wager on sporting events or a variety of casino games through one of the approved platforms.

In late 2020, the MGCB granted provisional licenses for 15 different platforms, promising that once both a commercial and tribal casino were ready to launch, betting would go live.

“The Michigan Gaming Control Board and the state’s commercial and tribal casinos will begin a new era Jan. 22 with the launch of regulated online gaming and sports betting,” MGCB Executive Director Richard Kalm said in a statement. “Michigan residents love sports and, judging by inquiries we’ve received, eagerly anticipate using mobile devices to place bets through the commercial and tribal casinos.” 

“Online gaming and sports betting will provide the casinos with new ways to engage with customers while the state and local communities will benefit from taxes and payments on wagering revenue,” he added.

The list of approved platforms and their casino partners are:

  • Crown MI Gaming LLC d.b.a DraftKings (Bay Mills Indian Community)
  • William Hill Sports Book (Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians)
  • Penn Sports Interactive LLC/Barstool Sportsbook (Greektown Casino)
  • Churchill Downs Interactive Gaming LLC d.b.a TwinSpires (Hannahville Indian Community)
  • Golden Nugget Online Gaming Inc. (Keweenaw Bay Indian Community)
  • Rush Street Interactive MI LLC (Little River Band of Ottawa Indians)
  • BetMGM LLC (MGM Grand Detroit)
  • Betfair Interactive US LLC d.b.a FanDuel Sportsbook (MotorCity Casino)
  • WSI US LLC d.b.a. Wynn Sports (Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians)

The platforms will conduct additional testing and make final adjustments before the Friday launch. Eight of the nine operators plan to provide both an online sportsbook and online casino gaming. Penn Sports Interactive will launch online sports betting alone.

The MGCB expects to grant additional authorizations in the coming days and weeks for the remaining six operators with provisional licenses.

“We want the public to have confidence when they place wagers, and our agency has required the providers to prove they meet Michigan’s standards, which are designed to protect the participants,” Kalm said.

Promising market

Friday will mark the eighth online launch for New York City-based sportsbook FanDuel. Mike Raffensperger, FanDuel’s chief marketing officer, told MiBiz that the company is excited about gaining a foothold in the Michigan market, saying that three crucial components to a successful industry are in place. These include the ability to sign up online as opposed to going into a casino, a sustainable tax rate and a competitive, open market.

“We see Michigan as probably one of — if not the — most exciting marketplace for opportunities just because it’s a big state with a large, popular, great sports affinity with four professional teams and a ton of college affinity,” Raffensperger said. “We couldn’t be more excited.”

The tax and payment rates were especially crucial components considering that sports betting is generally a low-margin business. Michigan’s rate is 8.4 percent for sports betting and 20 to 28 percent for internet gaming.

“Taxes appropriately (are needed) to have a regulated, legalized business, but putting them in a range that helps incentivize investment in the local marketplace” is also important, Raffensperger said. “Whether that’s through marketing partnerships, team partnerships, local media spend or in the customer base.”

FanDuel has partnered with MotorCity Casino Hotel in Detroit. It already operates a retail sportsbook on the premises, and despite the trials of COVID-19, the location has become FanDuel’s second largest retail sports book.

“The opportunity in Michigan is every bit as meaningful as the opportunity in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, and those are the bigger states that have legalized sports betting today,” Raffensperger said. “We certainly expect Michigan to be a very meaningful marketplace.”

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