Tigers owners and MotorCity Casino pushing MLB to allow sportsbook to take bets on home team

Written By David Wysong on February 12, 2020 - Last Updated on October 16, 2020
Tigers owners and MotorCity Casino MLB sports betting

One Detroit casino is afraid of soon being at a disadvantage when competing for sports betting dollars.

A proposed MLB rule change, however, could change that.


Why MotorCity Casino’s sports betting limitations could be lifted

The current MLB rule would keep MotorCity Casino from being able to offer the same sports betting options as the MGM Grand and Greektown casinos. The possible MLB rule change could give them a level playing field, though.

“The general rule will remain that if the club has an interest in a sportsbook, it can’t take bets on that club,” MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred told the Associated Press last week. “The rule does contemplate that there could be an exception provided that there are certain safeguards built in. The safeguards would essentially ensure that there is no controlled input whatever from the club to the betting operator, has to be a completely independent betting operator.”

The owner of MotorCity Casino is Marian Ilitch, who is the wife of late Detroit Tigers owner Mike Ilitch. Her youngest son Christopher is the controlling owner of the Tigers as he took ownership of both the Tigers and the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings following his father’s death in 2017. MotorCity Casino would not be able to have the typical betting options other area casinos can have due to the MLB’s regulations under the current rule.

“As a premier destination for entertainment in Detroit, we look forward to offering sports betting and online gaming to our guests and fans,” MotorCity Casino Hotel President Bryce Dall in a statement to Play Michigan. “Over the coming months we will be actively exploring this matter further with key stakeholders to ensure that we deliver a best in-class experience that operates in strict regulatory and league compliance.”


When could sports betting begin in Michigan?

This MLB rule has not affected MotorCity Casino quite yet as Detroit casinos have not started taking bets. In fact, retail sportsbooks and mobile sports betting apps are not even live in Michigan yet, but Sen. Curtis Hertel Jr. said the first Michigan retail sportsbook could be open by time the 2020 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament tips off. Hertel also said that Detroit’s three commercial casinos should be able to take wagers before the NCAA Tournament.

March Madness begins March 17. That is only nine days before the Tigers open their 2020 MLB season with their first game on the road against the Indians on March 26. MotorCity Casino could be at a disadvantage pretty soon as Manfred said the rule change has not yet been finalized, according to the Washington Post.


How sports betting could positively impact MotorCity

Due to the Ilitch family’s ownership of the Tigers and Red Wings, there has been no public announcement on MotorCity Casino’s interest in sports betting yet. There have not been any announcements regarding sports betting technology partnerships yet either, but DraftKings and FanDuel are rumored to have interest.

Partnering with sportsbooks such as DraftKings or FanDuel could be big for the casino financially. In January, Ameristar Casino in Indiana made over $4.575 million from DraftKings, according to the Indiana Gaming Commission’s monthly report, while Blue Chip Casino in Indiana made over $1.93 million from FanDuel. Over $65 million was also wagered at Ameristar through DraftKings in January while over $49 million was wagered at Blue Chip through FanDuel.

Greektown, one of MotorCity’s top competitors, does not yet have an online sports betting partner. That casino is operated by Penn National Gaming, however, and Penn’s primary sports betting partner at its Hollywood Casino at Penn National Racecourse in PA is William Hill. Penn National Gaming also has partnerships with DraftKings, PointsBets, and FOX Bet in other states. For MGM Grand Detroit, MGM partners with UK’s GVC for online gambling in the US. The joint venture between the two operate under the brands playMGM and BetMGM in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Those two brands are expected to be used in Michigan.

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David Wysong

David Wysong is a sports journalist from Ohio that graduated from the University of Cincinnati where he covered the Bearcats as sports editor and editor-in-chief of the student paper. He currently covers high school sports for USA Today’s Chillicothe Gazette and also runs FanSided’s site about the Ohio State Buckeyes.

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