Fox Sports Detroit May Rebrand As Bally’s Sports, But Is Bally Bets Coming To MI?

Posted on November 20, 2020

Michigan sports fans have long been inundated with television commercials for casinos across the state.

There’s been a national sprinkling already, but expect huge local marketing spends soon for online sportsbooks statewide with DraftKings and FanDuel ads popping up more often.

Bally’s Sports is taking it to another level, purchasing the naming rights for Fox Sports Detroit, the station fans of the Detroit Pistons, Red Wings and Tigers watch their teams on.

The rights deal with Sinclair Broadcast Group is part of a string of recent moves by Bally’s, which also acquired sports betting platform supplier Bet.Works.

For Bally’s, is the Michigan TV presence just a throw-in to a larger deal? Or is there some way that Bally’s can get into the state’s sports betting market?

Even if they don’t, this is just another indication of how much steam betting is picking up in the overall sports landscape.

Fox Sports Detroit reaches a large Michigan audience

Fox Sports Detroit is the exclusive platform to follow the home teams in the Great Lakes State.

And while there hasn’t been much reason to follow the Pistons, Red Wings, and Tigers lately, better days should be ahead.

Even still, Michigan has diehard sports fans still hanging tough with the home teams.

Bally’s paid $85 million over 10 years for the naming rights to Fox Sports Detroit in addition to 20 other regional networks, according to the New York Post. There was no definitive timeline on any rebranding plans, however.

The Pistons, Red Wings, and Tigers are among 42 professional teams who play exclusively on networks included in the deal. Sinclair purchased FSD and 20 other regional sports networks from Fox last year.

According to the Post, Bally’s hopes viewers will eventually be able to bet on games directly from their TVs.

How that would happen in Michigan, where online sports betting will launch soon, is unclear.

Bet.Works gives Bally’s path in other states with Bally Bets

The $125 million Bet.Works deal is more of a game-changer to industry insiders.

Bally’s is the new name for Twin River Worldwide Holdings, which acquired Bally’s properties and the brand as fallout from the Caesars and Eldorado Resorts merger.

The former Twin River, which will soon operate 14 casinos in 10 states, has plans to revitalize the Bally’s brand.

However, the company does not own a Michigan casino, nor is there a clear access path for digital products.

Bally’s has long been a big gambling brand with casinos in Atlantic City and on the Las Vegas Strip. Incidentally, Bally’s does not currently own the Bally’s Vegas property.

Bet.Works will reportedly power Bally Bets, which will be the online brand for Bally’s.

Launch is expected in Colorado, Indiana, Iowa, and New Jersey by Q2 2021.

Bet.Works also powers theScoreBet, which is live in Colorado, New Jersey, and Indiana.

Could Bally Bets join Michigan online sports betting?

“Bally Sports Detroit” would be a great Michigan marketing platform for Bally Bets if the products arrive.

The licenses and skins here are pretty much all spoken for though. But there’s always an outside chance the three tribes that run the FireKeepers, Four Winds, or Soaring Eagle casinos could change course on their self-branding plans.

For its part, the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe that operates Soaring Eagle in Mount Pleasant has yet to announce an online gambling or sports betting partner.

Bally’s might be a bit late to join the Michigan market. Though never say never, especially with investments like these flying around.

There are some built-in marketing opportunities for Michigan sports fans, a value that could be too much to pass up.

Photo by AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski
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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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