SI Casino And Sportsbook Targeting Q4 Exit Of Michigan Market

Written By Corey Sharp on May 20, 2024
SI Casino and Sportsbook plans to exit Michigan market

Evoke, formerly 888 Holdings, told PlayMichigan on Monday that it plans to pull Sports Illustrated out of the Michigan gambling market at the end of 2024.

“We’re currently planning our transition out of Michigan and aiming towards completion in Q4 of this year, subject to regulatory approvals,” an Evoke spokesperson said. “Until then, we remain very much open for business and committed to delivering fantastic betting and gaming experiences for players in the state.”

Sports Illustrated operated an online casino and a sportsbook in the Great Lakes State. However, the operator lacked success in the Michigan market.

With Evoke cutting ties with the media company in March, there didn’t appear to be a path forward. Sports Illustrated’s exit would reduce Michigan to 14 online casinos, leaving a spot open for another operator.

What the gambling market looks like without Sports Illustrated

The industry has known for some time that Sports Illustrated Casino and Sports Illustrated Sportsbook were on their way out of Michigan. Now, we have a clear understanding of what the timeline looks like.

With Sports Illustrated departing in October, November, or December, the number of online casinos would decrease to 14. The Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) allows a maximum of 15 Michigan online casinos.

There are multiple ways that the final spot could be filled in the Great Lakes State. The most likely scenario would be Hard Rock joining the state. Hard Rock positioned itself to enter the market after acquiring 888 Holdings’ US assets in March.

Despite the acquisition, the MGCB told PlayMichigan that Hard Rock must apply for its own online casino license to launch successfully.

Another way to fill the vacancy would be for an existing operator to buy Sports Illustrated’s license. Caesars is doing something similar after purchasing WynnBet’s Michigan license.

Caesars, which is planning the launch of its new platform by the end of 2024, will have three different ways for players to access the brand:

  • The legacy online casino, accessible through the Caesars Sportsbook app
  • The standalone, more robust Caesars Palace online casino app
  • The rebranded WynnBet online casino

An existing operator within the state would be wise to capitalize on that strategy.

The Great Lakes State would be down to 12 Michigan sports betting apps, leaving three spots open.

Sports Illustrated’s performance in Michigan gambling market

Along with Barstool, Sports Illustrated is the second media company that had high hopes in the gambling market but ultimately exited.

It has come in dead last in Michigan iGaming revenue in each of the first three months of 2024. With the MGCB releasing revenue on Tuesday, it’s likely to remain that way for April. It has produced the following revenue totals, finishing behind Fanatics, FireKeepers and PlayGunLake:

  • January: $1.7 million
  • February: $1.4 million
  • March: $1.8 million

It has not even carved out 1% of the online casino market share in 2024.

The brand’s sportsbook has not had much success, either. Sports Illustrated regularly finishes 10th or 11th in total bets. Through the first three months of 2024, it’s produced a total of $4.9 million in handle and $120,002 in revenue.

Evoke recognizes that Sports Illustrated isn’t an impactful operator and is pulling the plug in Michigan sooner rather than later.

Photo by Shutterstock/Amelia Martin
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Corey Sharp

Corey Sharp joined Catena Media in 2022 and is the go-to expert for Michigan gambling. Born and raised in Philadelphia, PA, he previously worked for the Philadelphia Inquirer and NBC Sports Philadelphia as a sports journalist and content producer. In Corey’s role as Lead Writer for PlayMichigan, he works alongside a talented team of expert journalists and analysts to bring you the most comprehensive and accurate coverage of gambling news in Michigan. Corey’s contacts around the industry makes him a trusted source. Corey produces daily stories and features about the gambling space. Corey graduated from Holy Family University in Philadelphia with a bachelor’s degree in sports management.

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