It seemed like only a matter of time that DraftKings Sportsbook would announce its entry into the Michigan sports betting market.
On Thursday, it happened.
With most of its competitors already announcing their own Great Lakes State partnerships, DraftKings Sportsbook finally made its own public.
The operator is the Bay Mills Indian Community, a Native American tribe in the eastern Upper Peninsula that operates two casinos in Brimley. The tribe’s Bay Mills Resort & Casino is the state’s longest-running casino, opening in November 1995.
Thursday’s deal brings one of the most popular online sportsbook brands to what should be a competitive market upon the launch of Michigan mobile sports betting; that should occur later this year or in early 2021.
The partnership will allow anyone inside of the state to use the DraftKings app to make sports bets.
DraftKings expects strong Michigan online market
DraftKings is already operating a mobile sportsbook in Colorado, Indiana, Iowa, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
The Boston company will also operate a retail sportsbook at Bay Mills Resort & Casino in Brimley, similarly to how FanDuel operates and brands the brick-and-mortar facility at MotorCity Casino in Detroit.
DraftKings announced this will be the seventh of its branded retail sportsbooks, joining facilities already announced or operating in Colorado, Iowa, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey and New York.
“Through a commitment to provide customers with a premier sports betting experience, DraftKings is happy to partner with Bay Mills Resort & Casino,” said Ezra Kucharz, chief business officer for DraftKings, in the news release. “The Great Lakes State presents a number of gaming opportunities and we look forward to collaborating with Bay Mills to provide residents with the best-in-class experience DraftKings is known for.”
Bay Mills was one of the only partners remaining
The Bay Mills tribe is one of 15 entities available in Michigan to form such a partnership, joining the 11 other federally recognized tribes and three Detroit commercial casinos.
Brands such as FanDuel (MotorCity Casino), BetMGM (MGM Grand Detroit), William Hill (Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians) and FOX Bet (Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians) have already made their way to Michigan.
Another Upper Peninsula tribe has already partnered with a global brand, as PointsBet of Australia will enter the market with the Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians in the western U.P.
The DraftKings partnership could be a draw to get sports fans to visit Brimley, where the tribe also operates Kings Club Casino.
“We are excited about our new partnership with DraftKings,” said Bryan Newland, tribal chairman for the Bay Mills Indian Community, in the release. “Expanding on what entertainment options we can offer at Michigan’s longest operating gaming facility is always our goal. Our new on-site DraftKings Sportsbook Michigan will be one more great reason for Michiganders to vacation with us in the Upper Peninsula.”
DraftKings recently became Michigan taxpayer for DFS
DraftKings has become familiar with Michigan regulators in the last few months.
As part of the expanded gambling laws signed in December by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, daily fantasy sports operators are also now being regulated and taxed by the Michigan Gaming Control Board at 8.4%.
Along with FanDuel and SportsHub Games Network, DraftKings is one of the operators licensed and on the books.
The gaming control board recently reported $2.8 million in adjusted revenues for fantasy contest operators in the first quarter, resulting in $240,547 in tax revenue for the state.
In addition, Fantasy Football Players Championship, FullTime Fantasy Sports Network, Yahoo Fantasy Sports and Fantasy Draft are other companies operating legally in the Michigan DFS space, but not yet fully licensed.
DraftKings stock continues strong performance
DraftKings went public recently and stock prices have continued to rise.
The stock was trading at about $17 when it opened on the Nasdaq market and was over $41 on Thursday morning.
According to analysts interviewed by Legal Sports Report, there is a belief that DK can protect and extend its current market share across the US thanks to its brand, database, and benefits of scale.
In Michigan, DraftKings expects big things. In Thursday’s announcement, the company said over a third of Michiganders who expressed interest in online sports betting had already placed a legal sports wager: Online in another state or internationally.
“Another 55% had never made an online wager before,” they said, “demonstrating potential among casual bettors upon market entry.”