Michigan is one of the most exciting inclusions to the legal U.S. sports betting market. It’s already a state that has a mature gambling culture, featuring more than 20 land-based casinos, and the recent move towards online betting is only going to accentuate that.
Sports betting and online casino games became legal in Michigan in December 2019. The state has quite a considerable base for sports, as some big-time college teams are located in the state. The Michigan Wolverines and Michigan State Spartans are two of the most prominent programs in college football and basketball.
At the pro level, the Detroit Lions (NFL), Detroit Pistons (NBA), Detroit Tigers (MLB), and Detroit Red Wings (NHL) satisfy all of the major leagues. Michigan, as a state, also has one of the larger populations in the nation. All of this is a long way to saying that legal sports betting will be very popular in Michigan once it reaches full capacity.
The first sports retail bets in Michigan were made on March 11, 2020, at two of the state’s commercial casinos in Detroit: MGM Grand Detroit and Greektown Casino Hotel. Online wagering has been fast tracked with a projected launch date for Christmas week or early 2021.
MI pre-launch promo bonuses
Current MI online sports betting timeline
So when will online betting start in Michigan? The Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) has issued rules and regulations for iGaming, which are now with the legislature’s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules. The expectation is that JCAR will release the regulations back to the MGCB by Dec. 15, 2020, at which point regulators and operators can begin prepping for live mobile/online sports betting.
While retail sportsbooks opened their doors in March, regulators initially said that online wagering may not arrive in Michigan until 2021. However, due to COVID-19 and the increasing need for socially distanced betting options and tax revenues to offset budget shortfalls, the state is actively pursuing an expedited online rollout.
State lawmakers proposed Senate Bill 969 during the final week of June, which would send efforts to launch iGaming into hyperdrive, but regulators were already on track, and the bill did not move, nor was it needed.
Michigan online sportsbooks: The books
Online and mobile sports betting is not yet live in Michigan, but it’s coming soon.
When Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed HB 4916 into law, online sports betting was legalized and the door was opened for Michigan casinos to apply for licenses to operate sportsbooks, both in person and online.
The law allows each of Michigan’s 23 casinos to have one online “skin” apiece, meaning one online brand, similar to Pennsylvania. Other states like New Jersey, West Virginia, and Indiana allow for three each. Despite permitting just one skin per casino, Michigan will have no shortage of online operators who will feature plenty of excellent choices for bettors.
MGM will be able to offer mobile sports betting to Michiganders through its BetMGM product because it owns and operates MGM Grand Detroit. In July 2018, a joint venture between MGM Resorts International GVC Holdings was announced, with the goal to create a sports betting and gaming platform. Through the joint venture, Roar Digital was formed. Roar Digital plans to use the BetMGM product for sports betting in Michigan.
Retail sports betting began at the MGM Grand Detroit on March 11, 2020.
Through its partnership with MotorCity Casino Hotel, FanDuel Sportsbook will be available to Michigan sports bettors. FanDuel currently operates the two-story retail sportsbook at the casino and will launch mobile and online betting at a later date. FanDuel has real potential to be the market leader, as it has illustrated in other states with regulated betting.
The Stars Group, operators of FOX Bet, partnered with Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians Gaming Authority to gain market access in Michigan. The agreement granted The Stars Group market access via a skin. Pending regulatory approval, The Stars Group will be able to offer online sports betting, poker, and casino in Michigan, with FOX Bet serving as the sports betting arm. The tribe operates the Odawa Casino Resort in Petoskey.
PointsBet has a 20-year partnership in place with the Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians. Through the partnership, PointsBet has plans to open both an online sportsbook and online casino in Michigan. The tribe owns and operates Northern Waters Casino Resort in Watersmeet, where PointsBet plans to open a retail sportsbook.
One of the more attractive features from PointsBet is “Pointsbetting.” Pointsbetting is a unique take on sports betting that rewards bettors with a bigger win the more they are right. But, the opposite can happen, too. The more a bettor is wrong, the more he or she can lose on a wager. Depending on how much your bet wins or loses, your wager will be adjusted by a multiplier.
In June 2020 DraftKings announced that it would be entering the Michigan online sports betting market through a partnership with the Bay Mills Resort & Casino. DraftKings will also provide a retail sportsbook experience on site at the Brimley location. The world’s largest Daily Fantasy Sports operator, DraftKings has successfully broadened its reach and established itself as a sports betting titan.
William Hill, one of the largest sportsbooks in the world, gained entry into Michigan through its partnership with Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians. In Michigan, the tribe owns and operates the Leelanau Sands Casino in Peshawbestown, the Turtle Creek Casino and Hotel in Williamsburg, and the Grand Traverse Resort & Spa in Acme Township. The partnership should see William Hill operate retail sportsbooks at the tribe’s casino properties, plus handle mobile and online sports betting for the tribe.
Pennsylvania’s leading casino operator is on its way to Michigan. Parx announced its agreement with Gun Lake Casino in March 2020. It is expected to launch an online sportsbook and casino, in addition to a brick-and-mortar sportsbook at Gun Lake in Wayland.
It’s not that difficult to connect the dots for the planned Barstool Sportsbook. Penn National Gaming purchased a minority stake of 36% in Barstool Sports in January 2020, and Penn National Gaming operates Greektown Casino Hotel. That factor, plus Barstool’s reach and newer initiatives in the sports betting space make a Barstool Sportsbook in Michigan a favorite to happen following a mobile launch in Pennsylvania and retail launch in Colorado. We also can’t discount that Barstool founder Dave Portnoy attended the University of Michigan.
BetAmerica is the online and retail sports betting face of Churchill Downs Inc. (CDI) and have partnered with the Island Resort and Casino in Harris to run both their online and retail sports betting in the state. BetAmerica is known to set up a large amount of self-service kiosks in their retail locations, which will bode well in these times when safety and health protocols are more important than ever.
BetRivers is really making a name for themselves in the legal and regulated online sportsbook and casino market in the U.S., as they have set up shop in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Colorado and Illinois. We expect BetRivers to be one of the first to launch in Michigan, just as they have been in every other new market.
Bet Rivers has partnered with Little River Casino Resort and will be running both their online sportsbook and online casino when all go live.
Golden Nugget, which has partnered with both the Ojibwa Casino Baraga and Ojibwa Casino Marquette, is so far only live in New Jersey. In Michigan, it will offer online sports betting and iCasino. The brick-and-mortar casinos are located on the Upper Peninsula.
Other sportsbooks that are likely to enter Michigan include the following:
- Circa Sportsbook
- theScore Bet
Michigan casinos — full list
Tribal casinos in Michigan (with location) include:
- Bay Mills Resort & Casino (Brimley)
- FireKeepers Casino Hotel (Battle Creek)
- Four Winds New Buffalo (New Buffalo)
- Four Winds Hartford (Hartford)
- Four Winds Dowagiac (Dowagiac)
- Island Resort & Casino (Bark River)
- Kewadin Casino Christmas (Christmas)
- Kewadin Casino Hessel (Hessel)
- Kewadin Casino Manistique (Manistique)
- Kewadin Casino, Hotel and Convention Center (Sault Saint Marie)
- Kewadin Shores Casino St. Ignace (St. Ignace)
- Kings Club Casino (Brimley)
- Leelanau Sands Casino (Suttons Bay)
- Little River Casino and Resort (Manistee)
- Northern Waters Casino Resort (Watersmeet)
- Odawa Casino Resort (Petoskey)
- Odawa Casino Mackinaw City (Mackinaw City)
- Ojibwa Casino Marquette (Marquette)
- Ojibwa Casino Resort Baraga (Baraga)
- Saganing Eagles Landing Casino (Standish)
- Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort (Mt. Pleasant)
- Turtle Creek Casino and Hotel (Williamsburg)
Michigan has three state-licensed commercial casinos – MGM Grand Detroit, Greektown Casino Hotel, and MotorCity Casino Hotel – all located in Detroit. MGM Grand Detroit and Greektown Casino Hotel both opened their doors to sports bettors on Wednesday, March 11, 2020. MotorCity Casino Hotel launched sports betting one day later on Thursday, March 12, 2020.
Unfortunately their initial runs were short lived, with a state-wide stay-at-home order coming just a few days later due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer allowed the three casinos to reopen at significantly lower capacity limits on Aug. 5 but were to close again for a period of three weeks that started Nov. 17.
Notably, tribal casinos actually fall under the jurisdiction of their own gaming commission, and thus were exempt from the state-imposed operating restrictions. Tribal facilities around Michigan reopened ahead of the commercial casinos, permitting guests since the end of May, albeit with much stronger safety and cleanliness standards than before the lockdown.
FireKeepers Casino was first to open their retail casino post-COVID lockdown on June 22, and were followed just a few weeks later by the trio of Four Winds Casinos in Dowagiac, Hartford, and New Buffalo in mid-July. Little River Casino opened their River Rock-themed sportsbook shortly after that.
MGM Grand Detroit
MGM Grand Detroit is a luxury casino resort that opened in July 1999, located in one of the largest U.S. cities. MGM Grand Detroit boasts 100,000 square feet of gaming space, more than 400 hotel rooms, and plenty of dining and entertainment options similar to those you’d find at a big Las Vegas casino. As the name suggests, MGM Grand Detroit is owned by MGM Resorts.
MGM Grand Detroit opened its sportsbook on Wednesday, March 11, 2020.
MotorCity Casino Hotel
MotorCity Casino Hotel is a commercial facility that’s also located in Detroit. It was opened December 1999 by Mandalay Resort Group before later being purchased by IH Gaming, part of Ilitch Holdings, Inc., which also owns the Detroit Red Wings and Detroit Tigers. MotorCity Casino Hotel has 100,000 square feet of gaming space and 400 hotel rooms. The property boasts approximately 2,800 slot machines, several dozen table games, and live poker.
MotorCity Casino Hotel is partnered with FanDuel Sportsbook for sports betting. The deal gives FanDuel online sportsbook access to “The Wolverine State.” MotorCity Casino Hotel opened its retail sportsbook on Thursday, March 12, 2020.
Greektown Casino Hotel
Greektown Casino Hotel is another of the three casino resorts located in Detroit, Michigan. Greektown Casino Hotel opened in November 2000. The property claims 100,000 square feet of gaming space and 400 hotel rooms. It is owned by Vici Properties and operated by Penn National Gaming.
Like MGM Grand Detroit, Greektown Casino started operations at its retail sportsbook on Wednesday, March 11, 2020 – officially opening the sports betting market in the state.
Gun Lake Casino
Gun Lake Casino in Wayland announced a partnership with Parx Casino that will bring sports betting to the property in the near future. Soon, Stage 131 Sportsbook & Lounge will offer brick-and-mortar sports betting, before the casino eventually rolls out mobile and online sports betting and casino gaming. The arrangement gives Parx Casino access to Michigan for what will be its third regulated gaming market, following New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
FireKeepers Casino in Battle Creek opened its retail sports betting facility, Dacey’s Sportsbook, on June 22, 2020, becoming the first tribal sportsbook to accept wagers in the state. The casino still lacks an online partner, but has linked up with the reputable tech provider Scientific Games to run its retail betting. On site at Dacey’s there are numerous sports betting kiosks, plus a desk/window to place bets in-person.
The FireKeepers Casino opened in 2009 at a cost of $300 million. It features more than 110,000 square feet of gaming space, thousands of slot machines, and a wealth of table games. The full-service hotel, which began accepting guests in 2012, has more than 200 available rooms.
Four Winds Casinos
The Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians operate three casinos in southwestern Michigan: Four Winds Hartford, Four Winds New Buffalo and Four Winds Dowagiac. On July 1, 2020, the tribe announced a deal with Kambi Group to manage its sportsbook operations both for a brick-and-mortar sportsbook and online. Kambi also powers sportsbooks for DraftKings and Parx, among others.
Four Winds’ trio of casinos all opened their retail sportsbooks on July 13, 2020.
Little River Casino
Little River Casino opened their “River Rock Sportsbook and Grille” on July 17, 2020, a 24-hour retail sportsbook where you can watch, dine, and bet on all your favorite games. The sportsbook features betting windows, a full-service restaurant and several self-service kiosks that are available 24/7.
Outside of the sportsbook, Little River Casino features over 1,400 slots and dozens of table games spread over 23,000 square feet of space. Little River also has close to 300 hotel rooms, and if camping out is your thing, a 95-space RV park as well. For your dining pleasure, Little River has four restaurants spread out through the casino.
Details of the Michigan Sports Betting Bill
For Michigan sports bettors, the 2019 holiday season was one to make them smile, as sports betting was officially made legal in the state in December. The legislation, HB 4916, paved the way for licensed casinos and federally recognized tribes to offer legal sports betting in Michigan, through retail, mobile, and online.
Below are key details of the legislation:
- Minimum age of 21 to bet on sports
- 8.4% tax rate on adjusted gross sports wagering revenue
- Three commercial casinos located in Detroit will pay an additional 1.25% tax to the city
- State tax revenue will go to School Aid Fund and First Responder Presumed Coverage Fund
- Licensed commercial casinos and federally recognized tribal casinos can apply for licenses
- $50,000 application fee
- $100,000 license fee
- $50,000 annual renewal fee
- “Official League Data” required for grading of in-play sports bets
- One third-party partner for mobile/online sportsbook
- Operators are allowed one online skin each
Michigan Sports Betting
Yes, sports betting is legal in Michigan. A bill, HB 4916, was passed in December 2019 that gave the green light for retail, mobile, and online sports betting.
Online sports betting is legal in Michigan, but not available yet. Although original hopes were to launch online sports betting for March 2020, new timeline estimates put the date at later in 2020 or 2021.
Yes, you need to be within Michigan state borders to place a bet. This is a given for retail betting and brick-and-mortar establishments. Online and mobile betting will use geolocation technology to determine one’s location and prove the bettor is within state lines.
You’ll be able to access a wide variety of wager types in Michigan, covering a wide range of sports. This includes the following types of bets.
- Point spread
- Over/under totals
- Live betting
The only limitation on this will be betting on amateur sports and players that are under 18, which is prohibited.
It will vary between sportsbooks, but available options across all of them will include:
- ACH (eCheck)
- PayPal (likely to come later on)
- Online banking
- PayNearMe which is available at any eligible 7-Eleven, CVS, or Family Dollar
- Cash at a brick-and-mortar casino cage
- Casino-branded prepaid cards (Play+)
- Visa and MasterCard credit and debit cards
Michigan’s Path To Legal Sports Betting
The road to legalizing sports betting in Michigan has been a long and arduous one. Given the state’s background in gambling, it was one that took longer than most would think.
Foundations were laid out in 2015 when Rep. Robert Kosowski started a bill to allow casinos to accept sports bets. At the time, federal law still very much prohibited this, and as a result, nothing really came of it.
Kosowski followed this up in 2016 and then in 2017, each time tweaking initial plans, but ultimately pushing to legalize both sports betting and online betting.
The most significant progress was made in 2017, when Rep. Brandt Iden got involved. He suggested that the state should remain opposed to sports betting, but should the federal laws be relaxed, offered that Michigan should be in a position to legalize sports betting. As a result, bill H 4926 was passed as the first through the Committee on Regulatory Reform.
When the Professional & Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in May 2018, wheels started to turn to bring sports betting to Michigan. With Gov. Rick Snyder preparing to leave office at the end of the year, iGaming legislation that would legalize sports betting hit the governor’s desk in December. But on his way out, the lame duck governor vetoed the bill, delaying efforts for at least another year.
Taking office was Gretchen Whitmer, who was in favor of sports betting, but it was not as simple of a process as many had hoped. Gov. Whitmer had her concerns, and ultimately decided to work on crafting legislation she felt comfortable with. The parties involved eventually reached an agreement and the legislation went on to pass Michigan’s two chambers. In the latter half of December 2019, Gov. Whitmer signed the bill into law, opening the door for Michigan to allow legal sports betting in 2020.