Michigan’s Heart Beats For Hockey Betting At Online Sportsbooks

Written By Matt Schoch on February 12, 2021

While the city has long carried the Hockeytown moniker, the Detroit Red Wings have not lived up to their own lofty standards as of late.

Furthermore, fans haven’t had the chance to fill up Little Caesars Arena to cheer on a winner since the franchise moved there in 2017.

But with online sports betting live now across the state, Michigan hockey fans have a chance to prove their fervor in the sport. According to some Michigan sportsbooks, that is exactly the case.

Early returns suggest hockey betting big in Michigan

A more clear picture of betting trends will come in time, but early reports from sportsbooks suggest hockey fans are alive and well in Michigan. And hankering for a bet or two.

PointsBet, now an official sponsor with the NHL, and BetRivers reported spikes in NHL betting compared to other states in just the first few weeks in the state.

According to PointsBet, Michigan hockey handle is 2% higher than in other states, with Colorado second and Illinois third. When also factoring in PointsBet’s other active states of New Jersey, Iowa, and Indiana, Michigan is 3% higher than the overall PointsBet average.

BetRivers operates in NHL markets such as Colorado, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey (as PlaySugarHouse), in addition to Indiana, Iowa, and Virginia.

The operator reported Michigan is the highest in percentage of hockey handle, twice as much compared to the second state, Pennsylvania, which has two NHL teams.

When announcing its partnership with the Red Wings last month, PointsBet USA CEO Johnny Aitken called the team “a very proud and storied NHL franchise with an extremely passionate fanbase.”

The Wings aren’t so proud these days — Detroit’s eight points in the standings are second-worst in the NHL — but the fans are certainly proving to still have passion.

In a shift, NHL now betting on betting

After years of being allergic to the sports betting industry as a whole, professional leagues are now fully on board.

Perhaps no league has demonstrated that dramatic shift as much as the NHL, which this week became an investor in sports betting.

The NHL’s deal with PointsBet included the league acquiring 43,106 shares of stock in the company, which is traded on the Australian Stock Exchange.

The multi-year deal also includes exposure on:

  • Broadcasts of live games
  • Digital platforms such as the league’s social media channels and website
  • Pre- and post-game shows

PointsBet was already a partner with the Red Wings with digital ads appearing on the ice and on the glass behind the goals during games. A watering hole at Little Caesars Arena will be rebranded as PointsBet Sports Bar this year, too.

MI sportsbooks leaning into NHL betting

To attract Michigan customers and appease a hockey-hungry state, operators are leaning into NHL promotions.

Some of them include:

  • Featured parlays and props at BetMGM
  • Weekly NHL odds boosts from BetRivers
  • Regular odds boosts at DraftKings
  • First-period insurance at FanDuel, which refunds moneyline bets up to $50 in site credit if your team is winning after the first period but loses the game. In addition, the site has NHL parlay insurance where bets up to $25 are refunded in site credit if just one leg of your five-plus leg NHL parlay loses.
  • Bet Boosts and Fox Bet Saturday Super Boosts at Fox Bet
  • Golden Lines specials, parlay boosts, and Notorious VIG: Low Vig at Golden Nugget
  • A Detroit Red Wings On the House Booster from PointsBet essentially gave bettors $25 free after Detroit covered an 11-goal spread against Florida on Jan. 30. The operator also has overtime insurance up to $50 in free bets if your moneyline wager loses in overtime or a shootout.
  • Daily parlay and prop bet boosts at William Hill

Even though Red Wings odds are on the rough side right now, Detroit (and Michigan in general) still has a soft spot for hockey. And it’s clear, just in the first few weeks of legal online betting in the state, that the love of the greatest game on ice is strong.

Photo by AP Photo/Jim Rassol
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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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