BetRivers Comes To Michigan In Partnership With Little River Casino

Posted on June 22, 2020

On the same day that the first tribal sportsbook launched in Michigan, another regional gambling brand moved into the state.

BetRivers, the first mobile sportsbook to launch last week in Illinois, is coming to the Great Lakes State.

On Monday, Little River Casino Resort in Manistee announced the partnership with Rush Street Interactive (RSI) in a press release. The Chicago company will operate a retail sportsbook and acquire online access from the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians.

Online gambling will launch sometime this year in Michigan after the rule-making process is complete.

BetRivers joins a competitive online market in Michigan

Rush Street launched the first Illinois retail sportsbook on March 9 at its flagship Rivers Casino in suburban Chicago near O’Hare Airport.

Two days later, Michigan was in the sports betting game, as Detroit’s casinos launched sportsbooks.

BetRivers will be joined in the Michigan market by online sports betting brands such as DraftKings, FanDuel, Fox Bet, Parx, PointsBet and William Hill.

BetRivers is also operating an online sportsbook in two other states.

“The successful track record of Rush Street Interactive as a provider of in-casino sportsbooks in Pennsylvania, New York and Illinois, was very significant to us when we chose them as our partner,” said Andrew Gentile, the general manager of Little River, in a statement.

“Rush Street’s ability to provide a road map of how they’ve enabled other land-based casinos to operate market-leading sportsbooks kept us from having to reinvent the wheel.”

The release mentioned BetRivers would launch online “as soon as Michigan regulators allow,” adding the retail sportsbook will launch in the early third quarter.

Rush Street up Lake Michigan shoreline to Manistee

Rush Street also operates two casinos in Pennsylvania and another in upstate New York.

The company provides the sportsbook operations and online platform for French Lick Resort in Indiana.

With Little River, Rush Street found a partner with a casino just up Lake Michigan toward Traverse City.

“The Little River Band of Ottawa Indians has built an outstanding reputation and we are thrilled they have chosen RSI to be a part of that tradition,” said Richard Schwartz, president of Rush Street, in the release.

“Being only a lakeshore away in Chicago, the Rush Street Interactive team views this partnership as an opportunity to help bring a property-wide lift to Little Rivers Casino Resort — from slots to tables to restaurants — thanks to the tremendous and growing popularity of sports wagering.

FireKeepers opens Michigan’s first tribal sportsbook

Also, on Monday, FireKeepers Casino in Battle Creek opened Dacey’s Sportsbook, the first tribal casino to open one in Michigan. FireKeepers partnered with Scientific Games for the launch.

FireKeepers is Michigan’s fourth sportsbook, joining the three Detroit casinos, which launched in mid-March, right before the coronavirus pandemic hit.

Little River currently has a branded River Rock Sportsbook and Grill, though the release did not mention that name.

No other launch dates planned for Michigan sportsbooks

The state’s largest tribal casino — Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort in Mount Pleasant — has not yet announced its sports betting partnership or launch plans.

But several other of Michigan’s tribal casinos have announced partnerships for sportsbooks but no launch dates. They include:

  • Bay Mills Casino in Brimley partnered with DraftKings.
  • Gun Lake Casino in Wayland partnered with Parx.
  • Leelanau Sands and Turtle Creek casinos partnered with William Hill.
  • Northern Waters Casino in Watersmeet partnered with PointsBet.
  • Odawa Casinos partnered with The Stars Group.

Online gambling coming later this year to Michigan

When Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed the expanded gambling laws in December, an early 2021 launch was expected.

However, Executive Director Richard Kalm of the Michigan Gaming Control Board said this month he’s “cautiously optimistic” about launching this year.

In addition, Sen. Adam Hollier introduced a bill in the Michigan Senate last week to issue temporary licenses to online casino operators during the pandemic, provided they were licensed in other states.

The bill does not impact the launch of online sports betting.

Matt Schoch Avatar
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Matt Schoch

A Michigan native, Matt has worked at newspapers in Michigan, Missouri and the Virgin Islands. A versatile sports reporter, Matt has covered sailing on the Great Lakes, cricket in the Caribbean, high school and pro playoffs, and the Olympics in Rio. He's also the host of the Locked On Pistons Podcast and producer of a documentary on Emoni Bates. A former blackjack dealer, Matt has studied the industry from all sides.

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