And here comes Michigan.
The first wave of the Wolverine State’s online casinos and mobile sports betting apps went live today, making Michigan the fifth state to offer legal, regulated online casino games and the thirteenth state with mobile sports betting.
Here is a quick look at the ten operators the Michigan Gaming Control Board approved to launch:
- PointsBet MI
- William Hill
- Golden Nugget Online
- Barstool Sportsbook
Eight of the ten operators will offer online sports betting and online casino games, the exceptions being Barstool and PointsBet, which will begin their Michigan lives as sportsbook-only operators.
A Launch Two Years in the Making
Michigan’s road to online gambling began in 2016, with a bill from Sen. Mike Kowall and a handful of other state senators. That bill kicked off a multi-year effort to legalize online casino gambling, online poker, and eventually, daily fantasy sports, sports betting, and more.
Far from being a smooth ride, the journey was bumpy, with a few detours along the way.
After legislation bounced around the statehouse for several years, the legislature managed to push a gambling package across the finish line in December 2018, only to see then-Governor Rick Snyder veto the legislation.
The legislature moved forward with a similar package in 2019. After another end-of-session vote on a comprehensive gambling package, Snyder’s successor, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, signed her name on the bottom line, officially legalizing online gambling and sports betting in the state.
The hope was Michigan would act with alacrity. Instead, the state took its time rolling out its new gambling verticals, and the result is a launch some 13 months after Gov. Whitmer signed the gaming bills into law.
Who Will the Big Players Be?
Michigan online gambling is going to be an extremely competitive market. The state boasts three commercial casinos and 23 tribal casinos operated by 12 tribes. Each of these properties can launch an online casino and sportsbook.
A complete list of the state’s current and future sportsbooks and their known partners can be found here.
Below we will focus on the more prominent operators we expect to make a splash in the Michigan market.
BetMGM Has Momentum on its Side
BetMGM is associated with the MGM Grand Detroit Casino. The company’s online offerings have been steadily gaining market share since it prioritized the US market last summer.
With a local casino brand to build off, BetMGM can potentially be a Top 3 operator in the market.
Barstool’s Second Big State
Barstool will enter Michigan through GreekTown Casino, a Penn National casino. The company has gobbled up market share in Pennsylvania (the only other state its mobile app has gone live). It has established itself as the clear number three operator in the market in just a few months, trailing only FanDuel and DraftKings.
That’s an impressive achievement considering it was a late arrival to the Pennsylvania sports betting market. Michigan is Barstool’s opportunity to demonstrate what it can do when it launches on equal footing.
Rush Street Is a Known Entity in the Midwest
Illinois-based Rush Street will launch its BetRivers brand in Michigan through a partnership with the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians.
BetRivers has had some successes and flops so far, and the company’s land-based presence in those markets seems to play a significant role. Rush Street doesn’t operate a casino in Michigan, but it does in Illinois, which gives it some familiarity with Michiganders.
There’s Zero Reason to Doubt FanDuel and DraftKings
FanDuel is partnered with the MotorCity Casino Hotel, the third of the three commercial casinos in Michigan.
DraftKings gained access to the Michigan market via a partnership with the Bay Mills Indian Community, which operates two casinos in the Wolverine State.
FanDuel and DraftKings are number one or number two in every market they’ve entered, and there’s no reason to believe they won’t have the same results in Michigan.