Recapping A Wild Summer Of Online Gambling News In Michigan

Written By Drew Ellis on August 18, 2023 - Last Updated on October 20, 2023
Michigan online gambling news

The last two months have been quite newsworthy for Michigan’s online gambling industry.

Major developments have occurred with four different operators in the state. That leaves the state with the potential for four new online sportsbook operators and three new online casino operators in the future.

In case you’ve missed any of the news, here’s a recap of everything that is going on with the state.

Fanatics buys PointsBet’s US assets

The first domino to drop came in June when Fanatics announced it would be purchasing PointsBet’s US assets.

Originally agreeing to a $150 million deal, that number was pushed to $225 million after DraftKings decided a last-minute Hail Mary bid to try and steal the deal from Fanatics.

Ultimately, Fanatics got the assets and is now making its move toward coming to Michigan with an online sportsbook and online casino.

Fanatics, known as a sports memorabilia brand, just fully launched its online sportsbook in Maryland, Massachusetts, Ohio and Tennessee. It will need to earn a license in Michigan before being able to go live in this state.

Fanatics has expectations to replace PointsBet at some point during the football season.

Through six months of 2023, PointsBet has just 0.9% of Michigan’s online casino revenue share ($8.4 million) and 2.1% of the online sports betting revenue share ($4 million).

Flutter shuts down Fox Bet Sportsbook

Michigan dropped down to just 14 operational online sportsbooks late in July when Flutter elected to shutdown Fox Bet Sportsbook.

That impacted the state, as Fox Bet was the online sportsbook for Odawa Casinos.

Fox Bet was part of The Stars Group, which also operates PokerStars Casino and an Online Poker app here in Michigan. Both of those will remain in operation.

In 2023, Fox Bet had just 0.4% of the online sportsbook revenue share ($761,824) in the state.

The question now is what will Odawa Casinos do with its available online sportsbook license?

Along with owning Fox Bet, Flutter also owns FanDuel, the online sportsbook leader in Michigan. Will Flutter have much, if any, say in how Odawa can use the available license?

PENN drops Barstool, makes deal with ESPN

The next shoe to drop was arguably the biggest of them all during this news-heavy couple of months.

Early in August, PENN Entertainment announced it was selling 100% of Barstool Sports back to Dave Portnoy. It then added it had struck an exclusive agreement with ESPN to bring ESPN Bet to the states this fall.

PENN just recently completed a full purchase of Barstool, which operated an online sportsbook and casino in Michigan. However, following the sale Portnoy best summed up that “the regulated industry was probably not the best place for Barstool Sports and the style of content we make.”

Barstool Sportsbook MI had just 2.3% of the online sportsbook revenue share ($4.4 million) in the state for 2023. It also had just 2.4% of the online casino revenue share ($22.5 million) in Michigan this year.

PENN now plans to have ESPN Bet running in place of Barstool in November. When it comes to the online casino, Barstool will be rebranded by Hollywood Casino Online. That will tie the online product to Hollywood Casino at Greektown. It’s also likely to lead the Barstool retail sportsbook at Greektown to be changed to an ESPN Bet sportsbook.

The MGCB said it was premature to say what additional requirements PENN needed to get ESPN Bet and Hollywood Casino Online up and running in Michigan.

WynnBet puts Michigan operations under review

Just last week, WynnBet announced it would be ending online operations in eight states while putting its operations in Michigan “under review.”

It is unclear just what that review will be looking to find. However, in the states that WynnBet has elected to shut down, their online revenue share for was below 1%.

Here in Michigan, WynnBet has just 0.3% (%567,353) of the 2023 online sportsbook revenue share. However, it has 3.2% of the online casino revenue share in the state for this year. That equates to $30.2 million through six months of available data.

WynnBet didn’t provide a timeline for its review of Michigan. Should it elect to shut down operations, that would leave an available online casino and online sportsbook license for Kewadin Casinos.

What do these developments mean for Michigan?

What we know for sure is that plans call for Michigan to see two new online casinos and online sportsbooks in the near future.

Fanatics is on the path to launching one of each in the state, in place of PointsBet.

PENN has said ESPN Bet will be coming to Michigan in 2023. The timeline for Hollywood Casino Online is a little more vague. Both will replace Barstool.

Where the questions still remain is with what will replace Fox Bet and what WynnBet will decide to do.

Clearly Odawa Casinos will want to have an online sportsbook operation.

Should WynnBet close down in Michigan, Kewadin Casinos will certainly want to get a new online operation for its casino and sportsbook running.

That leaves the potential for new operators to come into the state.

Bet365 Casino Michigan is an operator that has been expanding its push in the US over the last year, while other operators like Circa Sports, Tipico and Betfred also make sense here in Michigan.

We’ve also seen tribal casinos in the state elect to run their own name-brand online casinos and sportsbooks.

Perhaps Odawa or Kewadin Casinos could opt for that route to take home a bigger piece of the revenue pie and avoid the drama involved with having an online partner decide to exit mid-partnership.

There’s a lot of money on the table that all of these casino operators will want to capitalize on.

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Drew Ellis

Drew Ellis is currently the Lead Writer of 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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