The first two years of legal online gambling in Michigan have been a major success.
Now that the calendar has turned to 2023, we’re looking ahead to Year 3 (which, technically, begins later this month) and making some predictions about what could be in the cards for Michigan online casinos and Michigan online sportsbooks.
This isn’t intended to be insider information veiled as predictions. These are genuine predictions from our staff, made with varying levels of confidence.
SI Casino will take Michigan’s 15th online casino license
We know that, eventually, a 15th online casino will be coming to Michigan. When SI Sportsbook was announced as the replacement for TwinSpires, Island Resort & Casino said as much.
But that was four months ago.
That could mean one of two things: 1. Island Resort & Casino is still trying to hammer out a casino-only deal with someone; 2. It’s giving SI and 888 Gaming extra time to make SI Casino a thing.
We’re leaning toward No. 2.
Even if SI doesn’t have a casino yet, it works with 888, which does. Michigan online gamblers have grown accustomed to having a sportsbook and casino both available in a single app, so it makes sense for SI to go in that direction.
Michigan online casinos will have a $150 million month
We’ve written multiple times about the plateauing of the Michigan sports betting market. But Michigan online casinos still seem to be strapped to a rocket ship.
Each of the last two months has been a record, and while October — with 31 days and five football weekends — could have very easily been linked to a favorable calendar, November could not.
This industry is legitimately booming and with the recent launch of interstate poker and the expected launches of a 15th online casino and more games and live dealer options, there’s still more room for growth.
Really, this is a pretty easy prediction. The current record is $145.4 million. Had November had 31 days at that pace, we’d already have a $150 million month.
Another national sportsbook and/or casino brand will enter the market
The TwinSpires shake-up was the first in Michigan when it came to a brand leaving the space.
It’s certainly a possibility someone else jumps ship, but that might not need to happen in order for another national brand to come in.
Three Michigan licensees – FireKeepers, Four Winds and Soaring Eagle – are running their own online casinos and online sportsbooks. Eagle Casino & Sports (or PlayEagle) is still less than a year old, so don’t expect a change there.
And while neither of the others have indicated change is coming, attaching themselves to a national brand like Fanatics or Bet365 could create a boost – pun intended.
That, of course, would require several other steps, such as getting approval and scrapping their namesake brands — both of which are well known and strong in Michigan. But those extra marketing dollars could make it worth it.
The term ‘risk-free bet’ will become a thing of the past
We’ve already started to see the “risk-free bet” language be de-emphasized at some Michigan online sportsbooks.
FanDuel Sportsbook MI switched to “No Sweat Bet” and Caesars Sportsbook MI is telling new customers that the bet is “On Caesars”.
The truth is, no bets are technically “risk free” as a loss is refunded with a free bet, not money you can withdraw.
You do get a second chance – the language BetRivers Sportsbook MI has used – to win, but there’s still risk involved.
It’s all semantics, sure, but as companies continue to focus on responsible gambling, finding replacements for the term “risk-free” should be part of their plan.
And yes, that goes for us, too.