Could MGM’s Recent Deals Mean A Win For Legal Sports Betting In Michigan?

Written By Kim Yuhl on August 14, 2018 - Last Updated on March 11, 2022

This month is quite a busy one for sports betting news, especially for MGM Resorts International.

MGM, the owner of the MGM Grand Detroit in Michigan, shared plans for expanding its sports betting operation and announced a few new strategic partnerships.

It seems MGM attempting to become a leader in the legalized sports betting industry, and is betting big on its rapid-fire expansion throughout the United States.

MGM dominating sports betting headlines

In recent weeks, the sports betting news included:

  • A new state launching sports betting operations (Mississippi)
  • The first mobile sports betting app launch in New Jersey (DraftKings Sportsbook)
  • More partnership agreements between casinos and software providers then can be counted on one hand, including Caesars and Scientific Games.

The fact that MGM dominated the headlines with all this other news happening means it is taking this sports betting business seriously. What’s even more impressive is the news broke over a period of just three days.

MGM’s News Boom

In case you missed it, here is a rundown of MGM’s announcements.

MGM partners with GVC.

GVC Holdings is one of the biggest international gambling operators in the world. The $200 million, 50/50 joint venture will allow the companies to quickly launch sports betting in the 15 states included in the MGM/Boyd Gaming portfolio as legislation permits.

MGM partners with Boyd Gaming.

Speaking of Boyd Gaming, a new partnership with MGM gives each company access to enter into the sports betting markets in 15 states. Many of those states, including Michigan, are in the midst of tackling sports betting legislation.

MGM becomes the official gaming partner of the NBA.

MGM partnering with the National Basketball Association (NBA) was probably the biggest news. Let’s not forget, the NBA and the other professional sports leagues fought hard against New Jersey’s attempts to overturn the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA).

The Supreme Court decision opened the door to legalized sports betting across the US. Immediately following, the major sports leagues started lobbying for a piece of the revenue pie through integrity fees. States haven’t been receptive to the idea of giving up a portion of revenue to the leagues, however.

All of that history makes this partnership even more interesting. It is the first such agreement between a bookmaker and sports league in the US. Expect more to come. The implications of this partnership are still unfolding, but basically, it has MGM paying the NBA for its official data feed.

What does all the news coming out of MGM corporate headquarters mean for Michigan? It’s hard to say.

Currently, sports betting legislation remains stalled in the Wolverine State. There is still an interest, however, to get a bill on the books.

What are the odds on legalizing Michigan sports betting?

Earlier this year, Michigan State Rep. Brandt Iden thought there were enough votes to pass a sports betting bill. In the end, though, the legislature went on summer break without any definitive sports betting language.

Iden told Legal Sports Report he plans to re-introduce the topic in the fall. With MGM champing at the bit to enter sports betting markets, it would not be surprising to see MGM lobbying legislators when they get back from break.

The likelihood that a sports betting bill will gain momentum in the fall during a contentious mid-term election is questionable. Plus, Iden is having trouble bringing the tribal casinos and Detroit’s three commercial casinos to a consensus on what Iden refers to as the “poison pill.”

The commercial casinos wanted language in the legislation that allowed them to keep accepting sports bets even if the government prevents the tribes from doing so.

As it stands, the tribes most likely will need to renegotiate their contracts with the state and the Department of the Interior. This might be seen as an advantage and give the casinos a head start when it comes to accepting sports bets.

What does this mean for Michigan sports betting? The bottom line is it looks like it will happen, but probably not this year. When it does, MGM is ready to take advantage.

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Kim Yuhl

Kim Yuhl is a freelance writer and blogger who writes about poker culture and the online gambling industry. A part-time member of the poker media since 2013, Kim recently sold her marketing business to write full-time while traveling around the world. You can learn more about her work and travels at

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