Sizing Up The 15 Sports Betting Apps Coming To Michigan

Written By Matt Schoch on November 5, 2020 - Last Updated on January 11, 2021

We get asked almost every day here at PlayMichigan: When are legal sports betting apps in Michigan going live?

Well, we’re not exactly sure.

(Check out our live blog for the latest updates. Thanksgiving Day is still our best guess for launch.)

But we do know that Michigan’s 15 casino operators each have the ability to partner with one sports betting platform. Most have already announced such deals.

Sports betting, online casino gaming, and online poker will be big business in Michigan.

Online casino will eventually earn the most money for operators and tax revenue for the state. But Michigan sports betting will be the focus early, especially as launch should happen before football season ends.

Here are 15 online sports betting platforms we expect you’ll see in Michigan when the market matures:

The industry leaders

These two companies are well-known across the country, should be ready for the launch starting line in Michigan, and are proven brands on the sports betting scene.

FanDuel Sportsbook

FanDuel Sportsbook leads the market in several states and is well-positioned to make hay in Michigan.

The brand has been promoting daily fantasy sports here for years. FanDuel partnered with sports leagues, media companies, and sports personalities, too. And it’s a tried and true brand that’s been successful for many reasons, not the least of which is its brand loyalty.

FanDuel is partnered with MotorCity Casino in Detroit, which is owned by Marian Ilitch, matriarch of the famed Detroit family that owns the Detroit Red Wings and Detroit Tigers. It already has a two-story retail sportsbook up and running at the casino.

DraftKings Sportsbook

Another fantasy sports giant, DraftKings Sportsbook will be among the industry leaders in the state.

DraftKings actually leads FanDuel in fantasy contest revenue and has been running more ads during Detroit Lions games this season than its competitors. In 2018, DraftKings was the first legal sports betting app to launch outside Nevada when it arrived in New Jersey.

It quickly gained prominence in that state and looks to do the same in Michigan.

DraftKings partnered with the Bay Mills Indian Community, operators of Bay Mills and Kings Club casinos in Brimley, way up in the eastern Upper Peninsula.

Clear contenders

Two sportsbook brands have zeroed in on Michigan and seem to have a realistic chance to break through to the top tier in the market.

BetMGM Sportsbook

BetMGM Sportsbook and GVC talked tough this summer, but MGM is a recognized name in the state.

Their partner, MGM Grand Detroit, is the state’s most popular casino. The brand also partnered with the Detroit Lions and Red Wings.

One of three national brands that launched Nov. 1 at the opening of Tennessee sports betting, BetMGM sees itself as a top-tier brand. In Michigan, it has a chance to prove it.

Barstool Sportsbook

Barstool is the wildcard of wildcards, for many reasons.

The popular and irreverent sports and lifestyle brand targets the starting line for Michigan launch after impressive early numbers in Pennsylvania. Being there from the start of Michigan sports betting could change matters for industry mainstays such as BetMGM and DraftKings.

El Presidente Dave Portnoy, Big Cat & Co. plan to unleash the Stoolies and bring the Barstool Sportsbook numbers near the top of the Michigan heap. Barstool partnered with Greektown Casino in Detroit, which is owned by Penn National Gaming.

The app uses technology from Kambi.

Big names, small footprints

These four brands have a proven product, seem to be committed to success in Michigan, but don’t have a clear path out of the middle of the pack. Scooping up as much market share as possible seems to be a reasonable goal here.

PointsBet Sportsbook

The Australian company made a major summer splash with a Detroit Tigers partnership, the first one in the Michigan market and first in Major League Baseball.

PointsBet Sportsbook aims for 10% market share down the line, though it may have to build toward that, especially given it won’t be on the starting line for a 2020 launch. It estimates an early 2021 arrival.

PointsBet partnered with the Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, a tribe that operates Northern Waters Casino Resort in Watersmeet, near the U.P.’s Wisconsin border.

Michigan is big for a couple of reasons: It’s PointsBet’s first tribal partnership and first online casino launch.

William Hill Sportsbook

William Hill is a huge name in the sports betting industry, but does that translate to the casual sports fan?

Michigan is filled with diehard sports fans who have heard of DraftKings and FanDuel, but William Hill doesn’t have that level of name recognition. The London bookmaker partnered with the Grand Traverse Bay Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, operators of two casinos in the Traverse City area.

There is an Onyx Sports Book by William Hill already in Turtle Creek Casino in Williamsburg and betting terminals at Leelanau Sands in Peshawbestown.

Fox Bet Sportsbook

In January, The Stars Group was one of the first global brands to announce Michigan online access.

Stars Group said in January it was using its pact with the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians in part to push Fox Bet Sportsbook. That’s before Fox Bet and FanDuel were together under the Flutter umbrella.

The tribe operates two Odawa Casinos in Mackinaw City and Petoskey in northern Michigan. Fox Bet has name recognition on its side with the Lions playing on Fox most Sundays. Terry, Howie, and the gang make Super 6 picks each week in front of millions of Michiganders.

BetRivers Sportsbook

Rush Street Interactive went public in a bold summer. And yes, the Little River Casino deal in Michigan was just a coincidence — the company doesn’t limit itself to “River” partners.

The app is live in Illinois for BetRivers Sportsbook, but it’s not getting great reviews on Apple.

RSI partnered with the Little River Band of the Ottawa Indians, operators of Little River in Manistee. BetRivers uses technology from Kambi, like a few others in the state. The question remains, how will BetRivers spread the word here?

The DIY group

Perhaps the most intriguing group here in Michigan, three well-known tribal casino brands are jumping out on their own (with technology partners). Tribes across the country will no doubt be seeing how much traction these “local” brands can get in Michigan.

FireKeepers

The Battle Creek casino, operated by the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi Indians, is hoping to use its strong brand name to disrupt the market.

FireKeepers is partnered with Scientific Games and was the first casino to launch a tribal sportsbook in Michigan back in June. Dacey’s Sportsbook has been offering Michigan and Michigan State player prop bets and had a big weekend for the rivalry showdown on Halloween.

However, its expected launch date and app are, for the most part, a mystery.

Soaring Eagle

The Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe operates the state’s largest casino in Mount Pleasant.

But the Soaring Eagle operators are last to announce their sports betting plans. Soaring Eagle CEO Mike Bean told PlayMichigan they will ink with a major operator soon, and see how they do against the big global brands.

Four Winds

The southwest Michigan trio of Four Winds Casinos has in large part been marketed to Chicago area residents. It makes sense; the area is a big weekend and vacation destination for the region.

But that doesn’t help much in reaching in-state Michigan residents for a sports betting app. Four Winds partnered with Kambi, but they have serious work to do to get the brand recognition of FireKeepers and Soaring Eagle throughout the state.

True outsiders

These are brands that folks in the industry know, but the average sports fan may not. They are also not doing all that much to get the word out about sportsbook products so far in Michigan.

Wynn Sports

There’s no doubt Wynn is a big name on the Las Vegas Strip. Wynn Sports is also a catchy name for bettors trying to do just that. The company partnered with the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, operators of five Kewadin Casinos in the U.P.

However, Wynn itself does not own any casino in Michigan. Its name recognition is minuscule for that reason alone.

BetAmerica Sportsbook

If you know horse betting, you know Churchill Downs and BetAmerica.

But horse racing has long been a declining sport in Michigan, so that might only go so far. BetAmerica Sportsbook has an uphill battle here.

Churchill Downs Incorporated partnered with the Hannahville Indian Community, operators of Island Resort Casino in Harris, near Escanaba, in the U.P.

Golden Nugget Sportsbook

Golden Nugget has its eyes on a different prize: online casino. Of course, that doesn’t necessarily translate with sports fans.

Owner Tilman Fertitta said the company will offer sports betting and its Golden Nugget Sportsbook brand but will stay true to its online casino roots.

And those roots run deep in Golden Nugget Online Gambling’s home state of New Jersey. There, the brand boasts 700-plus casino games and monthly revenue that is almost double its nearest competitor.

That being said, there is much to be said about the benefits of cross-selling between an online casino and sportsbook.

Golden Nugget partnered with the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community. The tribe operates two Ojibwa Casinos in Baraga and Marquette of the U.P.

Parx Sports

Parx Casino is a Pennsylvania outfit coming to try its hands in Michigan. The brand partnered with the Gun Lake Tribe, operators of Gun Lake Casino in Wayland.

Parx was the first integrated online casino and sports betting app in PA. It will soon look to make headway in unfamiliar territory.

Matt Schoch Avatar
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Matt Schoch

A Michigan native, Matt has worked at newspapers in Michigan, Missouri and the Virgin Islands. A versatile sports reporter, Matt has covered sailing on the Great Lakes, cricket in the Caribbean, high school and pro playoffs, and the Olympics in Rio. He's also the host of the Locked On Pistons Podcast and producer of a documentary on Emoni Bates. A former blackjack dealer, Matt has studied the industry from all sides.

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