Michigan A ‘Launch Focus’ For ESPN BET With Hollywood Online Casino In Mind

Written By Drew Ellis on September 25, 2023 - Last Updated on March 25, 2024
Image of the Hollywood sign for story on PENN plans for Hollywood online casino in Michigan

PENN Entertainment is hoping the launch of ESPN BET will immediately make its Hollywood online casino a player in the online gambling industry.

What could make that hope come true is if PENN is able to strike effectively with its online casino in the states where it will be licensed.

Included in that is Michigan, where it will be part of a top-heavy Michigan online casinos market.

Hollywood Michigan online casino can bring in millions of revenue

Per reporting from the Earnings + More newsletter, financial advisors at Wells Fargo believe Michigan, Pennsylvania and New Jersey — the biggest online casino states — will be the “key launch focus” for PENN and ESPN BET.

That means PENN is looking more toward setting itself up for iGaming in the future, as opposed to employing a longterm sports betting focus or launching its online product in states where it already has a retail presence.

A lot of the national attention to the deal between ESPN and PENN focused on the online sportsbook aspect.

It’s understandable, as ESPN is a major name for all things sports. With PENN being able to deeply integrate its ESPN BET product into its television programming, that’s certainly an advantage the upcoming ESPN BET Michigan will have over its peers in this state.

However, when it comes to being a revenue driver, all Michigan online casinos have been able to outdo their online sportsbooks.

The real business success of this deal could come down to how the Hollywood MI online casino performs where PENN has iGaming licenses.

Just 1% of revenue from all online casinos in Michigan is $12.4 million in 2023 alone

In Michigan, having 1% of the online casino market share in 2023 currently means $12.4 million. That is MI online casino revenue through just eight months.

August alone produced $152.2 million collectively amongst the 15 online casinos in Michigan. A 1% of that share represents $1.52 million.

Though the performance has been dipping as it phases out, the PENN-operated Barstool Casino has 3.1% of the lifetime online casino market share in the state.

If Hollywood Casino can make ways to surpass that, it’s a good starting point for the new PENN Entertainment partner.

Tie to Hollywood Casino at Greektown could provide boost

The association to ESPN BET is a nice link for Hollywood Casino to build its online customer base. The same can be said for its connection to Hollywood Casino at Greektown.

In Michigan, only one other retail casino has a direct link to its national online casino operator.

The MGM Grand helps bring name recognition to BetMGM Michigan Online Casino. BetMGM is the clear online casino leader in the state with 35.7% of the market share lifetime ($1.40 billion).

Hollywood Casino at Greektown is already seeing a big retail revenue increase from its slots at table games in 2023. It has high hopes for easy crossovers with the online casino product once Hollywood Casino online launches.

“In the online space, I think you’re going to see the biggest impact from that group. Because we’re definitely not only launching the new brand, but we’re on our own platform now,” Hollywood Casino at Greektown Vice President and General Manager John Drake said. “That platform now puts us in control of our own destiny. Not just from a marketing standpoint, but from a user interface perspective as well. The feedback for online customers using the new platform has been phenomenal.”

A launch for ESPN BET and Hollywood Casino Online in Michigan hasn’t been announced. PENN has made reference to a November launch in generality without specifying locations.

The Michigan Gaming Control Board does list ESPN Enterprises, Inc. as a licensed vendor for Michigan sports betting. Nothing is found for Hollywood Casino in its iGaming vendors list.

Photo by Carlos Osorio / AP Photo
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Drew Ellis

Drew Ellis is currently the Lead Writer of PlayILottery.com. He was the former Lead Writer of PlayMichigan, the No. 1 source for online gambling news in Michigan. A lifelong resident of the state, Ellis has been working in various forms of media since 1998, including more than a decade in the sports betting industry prior to transitioning into US casino markets in 2020.

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