A relative dark horse so far in the Michigan online gambling scene, Golden Nugget Casino is looking for a way to break through.
They’d do well to follow the lead of their newest partner.
Golden Nugget Online Gaming (GNOG) announced a partnership Tuesday with Detroit City FC, a grassroots professional soccer club with more of a major league following.
The deal makes GoldenNuggetCasino.com the exclusive online gaming partner of the Detroit professional soccer team. GNOG is now the official training jersey sponsor for the men’s and women’s teams and will have in-stadium sponsored fan nights, community engagement, digital collaborations, VIP experiences and more.
The four major Detroit sports teams have struck deals with the big brands. But “Le Rouge,” with a fanbase that outkicks its National Independent Soccer Association counterparts, is an underdog story worth emulating for GN.
Golden Nugget hoping to come on strong in MI
Golden Nugget is playing a little catchup here in Michigan since online sports betting and internet gaming launched on Jan. 22.
Through May, the GN’s Michigan online casino earned $13.8 million in revenue. That’s good for a 3.5% market share, eighth out of 13 MI internet gaming operators.
Golden Nugget Sportsbook has taken $3.2 million in sports betting handle, a 0.3% market share, 11th out of 12 Michigan sports betting operators.
Upon going public last year, GNOG CEO Tilman Fertitta said the company would stick to online casino as its main focus even after adding sports betting.
GN gaining name recognition in Michigan
While sports betting giants like BetMGM, DraftKings and FanDuel dominated the MI television ad space shortly after launch, GNOG is creeping into the collective consciousness with recent advertising spends.
As pitchman, Fertitta now regularly pops up on Michigan TV sets, promoting online casinos and not the company’s sportsbook.
GN did well in New Jersey in part from the boost of live dealer games, which should come in Michigan later this year.
It’s also notable that the DCFC deal announcement did not mention a sportsbook component. The club has not partnered with a sports betting brand as of yet.
DCFC has large following, title game upcoming
DCFC debuted in 2012 and turned pro last year. But the pandemic wiped out its first NISA season. Last year also was a false start for the new women’s side.
This summer, however, the Detroit City FC men got back on track, winning the NISA regular season last weekend.
“Le Rouge” will host the NISA Championship on Saturday night, taking on the winner of Wednesday’s semifinal between Chattanooga (Tenn.) FC and the Los Angeles Force.
That match and Saturday’s are being played at Keyworth Stadium in Hamtramck, DCFC’s home. Despite being in what could be considered the fourth tier of American professional soccer, DCFC has a strong following, averaging nearly 6,000 fans per game in 2019.
TV20 in the Detroit area and CW channels throughout the state carry DCFC matches.
“We are thrilled to announce this new partnership with the league champions of the National Independent Soccer Association, DCFC,” Samir Banerjee, GNOG director of marketing, said in a statement. “At GNOG we firmly believe that our players come first. A local focused approach to emerging markets allows us to tailor the GNOG experience on a more personal level. We want to be part of the communities we enter into and this partnership helps us connect with forty thousand fans both near and far. We look forward to building a longstanding partnership as we continue to grow.”
Led by the boisterous Northern Guard supporters, fan engagement has been a key for “Le Rouge.” The club also went “public” last year, selling ownership stake in the club, starting at $125 a share.
Can you bet on Detroit City FC soccer matches?
You actually still can’t, yet.
The Michigan Gaming Control Board has approved betting on American professional leagues such as Major League Soccer and United Soccer League.
Further down the U.S. soccer totem pole, no Michigan sports betting operator has yet requested NISA betting.
However, now that DCFC is on the betting radar, one would expect match wagers could be coming soon.
“It is with excitement that we enter this partnership with Golden Nugget Online Gaming,” said T.J. Winfrey, DCFC chief of partnerships, in a statement. “GNOG is a community-oriented, competitive brand that we hope to continue to help growing in the state of Michigan and beyond. As a club born out of the Detroit community, we look forward to GNOG’s partnership in our efforts to engage our community.”
Lead image credit: AP Photo/Carlos Osorio