Michigan Sports Betting: The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly So Far

Written By JR Duren on February 13, 2020
Michigan Sports Betting

Christmas came early to Michigan this past December when Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed into law a series of gambling expansion bills that legalized Michigan sports betting and iGaming.

But, like sports legislation in most states, the details of how sports betting will unfold in the Wolverine State have been slow to emerge.


The Good: Sports Betting Firms Are Partnering With Michigan Casinos

Sports betting operators have jumped on the fertile ground that is Michigan. Three of the state’s 26 casinos already have partnerships with sports betting operators

  • PointsBet and Lac Vieux Desert Public Enterprise and Finance Commission (Northern Waters Casino Resort)
  • FOX Bet and Odawa Indians Gaming Authority (Odawa Casino)
  • BetMGM and MGM Grand Detroit

A sports betting operator has to partner with a casino to gain the license the operator needs to open up shop in the state, according to state law. Each casino is entitled to one partnership, or “skin.”

Whenever an operator like PointsBet lands a deal with a casino, they can use their skin to open up a land-based sportsbook as well as an online or mobile app.

MGM Grand Detroit was more than ready to lay the groundwork for sports betting on their property. The casino opened Moneyline Sports Lounge in October, nearly a full two months before the governor legalized sports betting.

Casino COO and president Mike Neubecker told the Detroit News the lounge opened as a sports bar but is meant for sports betting.

“If sports betting is legalized, we’re prepared to offer an outstanding experience,” he told the paper.


The Bad: No Live Bets Yet

When sports betting became legal in Michigan, one target date loomed large: Feb. 2, the day of the Super Bowl.

Legislators weren’t optimistic they could nail down all the regulatory details by that date, and rightly so. It is now mid-February and land-based sports betting has yet to launch.

State law has set a 60-day launch deadline for tribal casinos and a 150-day overall deadline for tribal and commercial properties. That deadline would put the last launch date on May 18.

That being said, it seems highly unlikely that casinos and lawmakers would fail to finalize details and launches before March Madness.

While no tournament games will take place within the state, two hometown teams—Michigan and Michigan State —are projected to make the tourney.


The Ugly: Online Sports Betting Is a Long Way Off

That land-based sportsbooks have yet to take a bet isn’t quite as concerning as the fact that online and mobile sports wagers may not happen in Michigan until 2021.

The Michigan Gaming Control Board has been relatively quiet about the next year, save for a few quotes the board’s communications specialist provided in January.

Bean said that the board thinks it will take around a year to finalize regulations.

This timeline is painfully slow considering neighboring Indiana was able to launch online and mobile sports betting within five months of their governor legalizing sports betting.


What’s Ahead In Michigan Sports Betting: More Partnerships Likely

The typical state-level sports betting birth tends to follow the same timeline: bill passes, lawmakers and gaming boards discuss details, casinos build sportsbooks and make partnerships.

Michigan’s casinos have reached the partnership stage, so expect to see more skins given out before March Madness, and certainly before the May deadline for land-based sportsbooks.

Detroit’s Greektown Casino Hotel is a likely candidate for the next partnership announcement. Its operator, Penn National Gaming, works with William Hill in Pennsylvania.

Also working in Michigan casinos’ favor is the state’s reasonable taxes on sports betting gross receipts: 8.4% for all casinos, with Detroit’s three casinos paying an additional 1.25% city tax.

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