Detroit casino sports-gambling no sure bet

Breana Noble
The Detroit News
MGM hotel and casino in Detroit

Caesars Entertainment is introducing sports-betting at four of its casinos in the United States this summer, but anyone laying odds on that in Michigan will have to wait for that payoff.

Although Caesars Windsor has offered parlays for years on the other side of the Detroit River, Detroit's casinos said they are waiting on the state government to clarify regulations for sports-betting after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in May that the federal government's ban on sports gambling in most states was unconstitutional.

Caesars Entertainment said Monday it would start taking sports bets this week at two casinos in Atlantic City, and by mid-August at two casinos in Mississippi.

Greektown Casino Hotel, owned by Dan Gilbert’s Jack Entertainment, supports sports-betting at “brick and mortar facilities” with proper regulation, Jack Entertainment CEO Matt Cullen said in a statement. Cullen said the company has received "significant guest interest in sport betting being available at our facilities."

MGM Grand Detroit and MotorCity casinos also embrace the chance to legalize sports-betting following the Supreme Court's decision., which tracks legal casino gaming, projects regulated sports betting could become a $5 billion industry by 2023.

Mary Kay Bean — a spokeswoman for the Michigan Gaming Control Board, the casino regulatory body — said Monday that the board had not received requests from Detroit's three commercial casinos to open a sportsbook.

"As I understand it, this still is an issue that the legislature and governor’s office would have to address," Bean said. "Right now, we would have to look at a proposal to see whether it would fit with the Michigan Gaming Control and Revenue Act."

In June, the Michigan House passed HB-4926, which would allow Detroit casinos to offer online gaming, though not sports gambling, as soon as next year. The bill would regulate online sports-betting, subject to the approval of the Michigan Gaming Control Board. The state Senate is expected to evaluate the bill when it returns from the summer recess.

Rep. Brandt Iden, R-Oshtemo Township, sponsored the online gaming bill in the Michigan House. He said he plans to introduce legislation in the fall to clarify regulations around sports-betting in Michigan casinos.

"I do believe that at the end of the day, (the board) would prefer the legislature address it," Iden said. "We want to make sure we roll out the right legislation that makes sense. We want to take our time, get it right, work with the stakeholders, and make sure it really is model legislation."

Complicating the regulation of sports-betting is that two families that own professional sports teams also own casinos in Detroit. Marian Ilitch, whose family owns the Tigers baseball and Red Wings hockey teams, operates MotorCity Casino. Gilbert, who owns the National Basketball Association's Cleveland Cavaliers, also owns Greektown Casino

Major League Baseball allowed Marian Ilitch to own MotorCity after she said she had nothing to do with the family’s operation of the Tigers, which was headed by her husband, the late Mike Ilitch, and now by their son Chris Ilitch.

Iden said when he introduces his sports-betting legislation, he plans to address the possible conflict of interest.

"We want to regulate properly," he said, "to protect our citizens in the marketplace."