To legal sports betting hopefuls in Michigan, Christmas came early in 2019, specifically on Dec. 11, the last day of the state’s legislative session of the year.
Specifically, the law allows for legal mobile/online sportsbooks “tethered” to commercial venues with casino licenses operating in Detroit, likewise for the 12 federally-recognized tribes located in the state, which operate a combined 23 casinos. That just means legal online sportsbooks need to have a deal or partnership with a licensed casino property — and not just anyone can begin taking bets online.
Sports betting was one part of a three-fer iGaming package in late 2019. Another bill formally legalizes daily fantasy sports (HB 4308) and establishes certain rules and consumer protections, while an iGaming bill (HB 4311) allowing for online casino and poker also passed.
The first sports bets were placed in early March 2020 at a trio of Detroit casinos, MGM Grand, MotorCity Casino and Greektown Casino, but the excitement was short-lived. Retail casinos were forced to temporarily close their doors due to the COVID-19 global pandemic just a few days later. Although some casinos have re-opened, lawmakers realized that there will be hesitance for customers to make their way back into retail casinos.
Now with increased urgency, the state’s focus has turned back to online sports betting. Initial projections estimated online sites to launch in early 2021, but due to the unprecedented circumstances that COVID-19 has created, it could now happen much sooner.
Follow the progress of sports betting implementation in Michigan by checking back to this page often.
Michigan’s sports betting timetable
It’s been a tough start for sports betting in Michigan. On March 11th and 12th MGM Grand Detroit, Greektown Casino and MotorCity Casino all took their first retail sports bets, with plenty of additional books ready to follow. March Madness 2020 was going to kick off the state’s fledgling industry, but due to public health concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic the tournament was cancelled and casinos were temporarily forced to close their doors, placing a hold on sports betting.
Retail casinos began opening their doors for customers in mid-summer 2020, but at severely reduced capacity, and many other health and safety restrictions. Lawmakers are seeing the need for online casinos and sportsbooks to generate revenue and keep people home.
On the other hand, many of Michigan’s tribal casinos are already back in business. Regulated by their own gaming commission instead of the state, they did not fall under the Governor’s stay-at-home order. Some facilities have been welcoming guests, with increased precautions, since as early as May 29th. Additional safety measures include decreased capacity, mandatory temperature checks, additional cleaning, plus all staff are required to wear masks and gloves.
Online Sports Betting fast track?
Michigan lawmakers are looking into fast-tracking the launch of online sports betting from early 2021 to a possible new start date of Fall 2020. Regulators and casinos would need to agree on a set of rules that could then be sent to the Governor as “emergency rules”, which would expedite the process. Initially, Gov. Whitmer disagreed with using the emergency rules protocol, but with the state facing a $1.5-plus billion budget deficit, and the economy on hold, there are strong indications that it could happen.
Senate Bill 969 was introduced in late June with the goal of hastening the state’s online gaming rollout. If passed, all of Michigan’s federally recognized tribes and commercial casinos would be automatically considered to hold an iGaming license until health officials deem that social distancing is no longer necessary. This would move the timetable for online betting, casino, and poker forward significantly, with an October or November debut now a seemingly realistic possibility.
A bill probably won’t be necessary, however. There is a hearing scheduled for September 23, 2020 to discuss the regulations that are currently up for public comment. From that point, the rules would go to the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules before certification.
Sportsbooks and possible MI sportsbooks
There may be 15 or even more legal online sportsbooks available to bettors in Michigan: one apiece from each of the three commercial casinos, and likewise one apiece from each of the 12 federally-recognized Native American tribes operating casinos in the state, which collectively run 23 casinos.
The Michigan Gaming Board oversees implementation of the state’s sports gambling operations, both online and for brick-and-mortar sportsbooks at each of the state’s 26 total casinos.
While the market won’t be as expansive as in New Jersey or Indiana (where each property can run up to three online “skins” or brands), this setup opens the door to plenty of popular sportsbooks, including the DFS-turned-sportsbook behemoths DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook, which can now legally operate their daily fantasy games in the state due to a bill that’s part of the iGaming package.
One of the largest casinos in Detroit is the MGM Grand which makes BetMGM a shoo-in for sports bettors as well. BetMGM in 2019 also partnered with Yahoo! Sports for various offerings and cross-promotion.
Several deals have been announced involving tribes and sportsbook (and iGaming) operators with which they have partnered. They are:
1. PointsBet Sportsbook — Partnered with Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians
PointsBet entered into an agreement “to provide online and mobile sports wagering and gaming to be rolled out statewide,” in conjunction with the Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, which owns and operates the Northern Waters Casino Resort on its reservation in Watersmeet, Mich.
PointsBet plans to bring their exciting unique style of spread betting called PointsBetting to the Wolverine State along with recently announced plans to launch online casinos to pair with their online sportsbook.
2. FOX Bet — Partnered with Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians Gaming Authority
FOX Bet is the sportsbook offered by Canadian-based The Stars Group (TSG), probably best known for its PokerStars brand. The company pulled the plug on BetStars in favor of FOX Bet following a May 2019 partnership agreement between the broadcasting and gaming companies. The FOX Bet sportsbook that origionally launched in New Jersey as BetStars, got a facelift after the FOX Sports deal and now features promos with Colin Cowherd and other FOX Sports figures’ faces on it.
3. William Hill — Partnered with Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians
One of the world’s largest sportsbooks, William Hill, is coming to Michigan through a partnership with the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians. The primary William Hill retail sportsbook in the state will be located at the Turtle Creek Casino & Hotel in Williamsburg, with a secondary satellite location at the Leelanau Sands in Suttons Bay.
4. FanDuel — Partnered with MotorCity Casino
Among the first wave of retail sportsbooks opening their doors in March 2020, FanDuel will operate both the online and retail sportsbooks for MotorCity Casino in Detroit. FanDuel seems to dominate any market they enter and have seen great success in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Colorado and Indiana.
5. BetMGM — MGM Grand Detroit
BetMGM is the online gambling wing of MGM in the U.S., and Michigan will be no different. Their retail sportsbook took its first bets in early March 2020, and we suspect their online sportsbook will be among the first to go live as well.
6. Barstool Sportsbook
The much anticipated online sportsbook has yet to launch in any state yet, but is eyeing a September launch in Pennsylvania. Penn National purchased the Greektown Casino in May 2019 to enter the Michigan gambling market, and just a short time later acquired 36% of Barstool for $163 million with the intentions of using the Barstool brand as their US facing sportsbook brand.
BetAmerica is owned and operated by Churchill Down Inc (CDI) and partnered with Island Resort Casino in Harris Michigan in order to bring their online sportsbook and online casino to the state. BetAmerica will also operate the casinos retail sportsbook which is projected to begin taking bets in early Fall of 2020. BetAmerica is known for loading up their retail books with self-serve kiosks which, in these times, will play well in the wake of health and safety concerns.
BetRivers does not own any properties in Michigan, but has struck up a deal with Little River Casino and Resort in order to bring their popular brand of sports betting and online casino to Michigan. BetRivers has seen a ton of success in Pennsylvania, Colorado, New Jersey and Colorado and will likely be one of the first to launch when lawmakers give the go-ahead.
9. Golden Nugget
Golden Nugget is only live in New Jersey so far, but has partnered with both the Ojibwa Casino Baraga and Ojibwa Casino Marquette in order to bring not just their online sportsbook, but their online casino to Michigan as well. Both retail casinos are located in the upper Peninsula, but will be available online throughout the state, giving them access to a larger customer base than ever before.
Parx may not be a household name in Michigan just yet, but is the top retail casino in Pennsylvania, and is was one of the first to go live in PA and have since brought their popular Kambi/GAN powered sportsbook and casino over the border into New Jersey as well. Parx has partnered with Gun Lake Casino in order to go live in Michigan.
Other sportsbooks that are likely (or near certain) to enter the state through similar partnerships:
- theScore Bet
On June 22, 2020, FireKeepers Casino in Battle Creek became the first tribal casino in the state to launch a retail sports betting facility. Its Dacey’s Sportsbook, which offers betting kiosks in addition to a staffed window, is also the first sportsbook to open in the state of Michigan since COVID-19. While FireKeepers has yet to announce an online gaming partner, its retail operation is powered by Scientific Games. The resumption of retail betting is a big step for Michigan.
The Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians struck their own deal with Kambi to design and power their own in-house and online sportsbooks. Their three retail books began accepting bets in July 2020. The Sault Tribe of Chippewa Indians struck a deal with GAN in order to power their own proprietary sportsbook software and in person betting.
List of known Michigan sportsbooks partners
|Casino||Online Brand||Online/Mobile Launch||Retail Launch Brand||Location|
|MGM Grand Detroit||BetMGM||Late 2020/Early 2021||March 11, 2020||Detroit|
|Greektown Casino Hotel||Barstool||Late 2020/Early 2021||March 11, 2020||Detroit|
|MotorCity Casino Hotel||FanDuel||Late 2020/Early 2021||March 12, 2020||Detroit|
|Odawa Casino Resort||FOX Bet (Stars Group)||Late 2020/Early 2021||TBD||Petoskey|
|Odawa Casino - Mackinaw City||FOX Bet (Stars Group)||Late 2020/Early 2021||TBD||Mackinaw City|
|Gun Lake Casino||Parx||Late 2020/Early 2021||TBD||Wayland|
|Turtle Creek Casino and Hotel||William Hill||Late 2020/Early 2021||TBD||Williamsburg|
|Leelanau Sands Casino||William Hill||Late 2020/Early 2021||TBD||Suttons Bay|
|Northern Waters Casino Resort||PointsBet||Late 2020/Early 2021||TBD||Watersmeet|
|Little River Casino and Resort||BetRivers/Rush Street Interactive||Late 2020/Early 2021||July 17, 2020||Manistee|
|Bay Mills Resort & Casino||DraftKings Sportsbook||Late 2020/Early 2021||TBD||Brimley|
|FireKeepers Casino Hotel||Kambi||Late 2020/Early 2021||June 22, 2020||Battle Creek|
|Four Winds New Buffalo||To be Four Winds-branded, tech by Kambi||TBD||July 13, 2020||New Buffalo|
|Four Winds Hartford||To be Four Winds-branded, tech by Kambi||TBD||July 13, 2020||Hartford|
|Four Winds Dowagiac||To be Four Winds-branded, tech by Kambi||TBD||TBD||Dowagiac|
|Island Resort & Casino||TBD||TBD||TBD||Bark River|
|Kewadin Casino - Christmas||TBD||TBD||TBD||Christmas|
|Kewadin Casino - Hessel||TBD||TBD||TBD||Hessel|
|Kewadin Casino - Manistique||TBD||TBD||TBD||Manistique|
|Kewadin Casino, Hotel and Convention Center||TBD||TBD||TBD||Sault Saint Marie|
|Kewadin Shores Casino - St. Ignace||TBD||TBD||TBD||St. Ignace|
|Kings Club Casino||TBD||TBD||TBD||Brimley|
|Ojibwa Casino - Marquette||Golden Nugget||TBD||TBD||Marquette|
|Ojibwa Casino Resort - Baraga||Golden Nugget||TBD||TBD||Baraga|
|Saganing Eagles Landing Casino||TBD||TBD||TBD||Standish|
|Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort||TBD||TBD||TBD||Mt. Pleasant|
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Sports betting bill particulars
Lawmakers worked with the governor and industry participants to ensure HB 4916, the sports betting portion of the approved iGaming package, laid the groundwork for a successful and profitable sports betting operation. This includes an acceptable tax rate for all parties.
Key components of the Lawful Sports Betting Act include:
- An 8.4 percent tax rate on adjusted gross of sports wagers; three commercial casinos in Detroit will pay the city an additional 1.25 percent tax.
- Betting operators are allowed one internet sports betting platform or “skin” apiece
- A $50,000 application fee; $100,000 for license and $50,000 annual renewal
- Lion’s share of state tax revenue will go to the School Aid Fund; $2 million will support the First Responder Presumed Coverage Fund, which funds cancer treatments for firefighters.
- Under this legislation, Michigan becomes the third state, behind Tennessee and Illinois to require use of “official league data.” Beyond the cost, sportsbook operators also can challenge having to use so-called “official data” because of other factors including the nature and quantity of data. This includes the quality and complexity of the process to collect it, if a sports betting supplier license wasn’t obtained.
- The Michigan measure allows one “skin” for mobile betting with approximately 15 skins available statewide. As many tribes own and operate multiple casinos, skins will overlap venues with the same owner.
- Another key element Michigan sports betting bill is the critical support it reportedly received from tribal interests which operate nearly two dozen casinos across the state. The state has compacts with the tribes and regulates finances, but tribes have the ultimate say regarding what occurs regarding their casinos due to the 1988 Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. In this case they were willing to act.
The tribes’ participation in negotiations makes Michigan unique, whereas in other states, such as Connecticut and Minnesota, lawmakers have found their attempts at legal sports betting thwarted by tribes standing by long-held compacts and concerns over exclusivity.
In 2018, the tribes in Michigan paid $53.4 million in gaming proceeds to the state which is substantially more than the $20 million in fees and taxes sports wagering is projected to bring in annually. Because of that, their participation and cooperation in negotiating the final legislative package was crucial.
Michigan Sports Betting FAQ
How old must you be to bet and are there any other restrictions?
Sports bettors must be 21 years old to place a bet.
As for other restrictions, the regulations will have to address the conflict of interest regarding MotorCity Casino Hotel owned by Marian Ilitch, part owner of the Detroit Red Wings. The casino will likely not be able to take bets on the Red Wings.
A similar conflict has been avoided when Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, who was owner of the Greektown Casino-Hotel, sold to Penn National Gaming for $1 billion in late 2018.
Is sports betting available at retail outlets, such as convenience stores?
No. Only at licensed online sites and commercial or tribal retail casinos.
From where can bettors place a wager?
All sports bets need to occur within the Michigan state lines and will be managed by geo-targeting technology.
Is in-play or live betting allowed?
Yes. In-play wagering is one of the most exciting aspects of online sports betting, where you can bet on every pitch, every down, and every stroke with constantly updating odds as the action unfolds.
What types of bets are available?
Michigan sportsbooks offer the standard bet types, like straight bets, totals, moneylines, futures, parlays, player and game props, teasers, and round robins, among others.
How can I deposit and withdraw money for my online account?
Although methods may vary from one sportsbook to another, Michigan online sportsbooks in general will offer a number of viable depositing and withdrawal methods, including:
- ACH (eCheck)
- Visa / MasterCard credit & debit cards
- PayNearMe: Pay with cash at any eligible 7-Eleven, CVS, or Family Dollar
- Cash at the affiliated retail casino cage
- PayPal: Probably not going to be available at launch, but later on
- Casino branded prepaid cards (Play+)
Michigan sports betting journey
Just as many states did, Michigan got serious about legalizing sports betting soon after the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that overturned the Professional & Amateur Sports Protection Act. With that reversal in May 2018, states beyond Nevada could make sports betting available to its residents.
In late 2018 a package of iGaming bills hit the desk of then-Gov. Rick Snyder for his signature. In one of the last acts of his administration, ending because of term limits, he vetoed the legislation that would have brought sports betting to Michigan sometime in 2019.
Snyder said he rejected the bills mostly due to “unknown revenue implications.” In a news release he said that he believed sports betting needed more study and comparison with other states with similar legislation before it should be legalized.
Snyder was succeeded in office by Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, on the record as being supportive of wagering on sports. Despite that, she, too, threatened to veto sports betting and other iGaming legislation in October 2019, fearing the legislation would seriously impact and diminish the state’s lottery revenues which support the state’s education fund.
Iden and State Sen. Curtis Hertel Jr. (D-East Lansing) pressed forward with revamping the iGaming package, expressing frustration over Whitmer’s suggestions to double taxes and license fees on gaming and sports betting. Late into the legislative session, Whitmer and her staff agreed to come to the negotiating table, reaching a compromise on the iGaming measures including setting taxation rates with assurances the school fund would be viable and protected.
In this case, taxes on sports betting went down and iGaming taxes increased. In the internet gaming legislation, House Bill 4311, taxes are tiered from 20 percent to 28 percent depending on a venue’s gross receipts.
After overwhelmingly passing both chambers, Whitmer signed on Dec. 20. On March 11, 2020, the first retail sports bets were taken at MGM Grand Detroit and the Greektown Casino. MotorCity Casino opened its sportsbook the very next day.
There is a hearing to hammer out details for online betting set for late September 2020, so be sure to check back often with SportsHandle for all the latest news and information on Michigan sports betting.