Michigan Gaming Control Board authorizes 10th casino for online sports betting

Jordyn Grzelewski
The Detroit News

The Michigan Gaming Control Board on Wednesday said it had authorized a 10th operator to launch online sports betting at noon Friday.

The latest operator to receive approval is the Lac Vieux Desert tribe and its platform provider, PointsBet. The Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians operates the Northern Waters Casino Resort in Watersmeet, in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

Nine other casinos and platform providers received authorization Tuesday to launch online sports betting or both online gaming and sports betting Friday, following the legalization of online wagering in the state.

Those operators and platform providers are:

  • Bay Mills Indian Community, DraftKings
  • Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, William Hill
  • Greektown Casino, Penn Sports Interactive/Barstool Sportsbook
  • Hannahville Indian Community, TwinSpires
  • Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, Golden Nugget Online Gaming
  • Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, Rush Street
  • MGM Grand Detroit, BetMGM/Roar Digital
  • MotorCity Casino, FanDuel
  • Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, Wynn

All of them except Greektown will simultaneously launch both online casino gaming and internet sports betting; Penn National Gaming Inc., Greektown's owner, has said it will launch online gaming in the near future. 

MGCB has said it expects to authorize additional operators and platform providers in the coming days and weeks. Michigan's law, signed at the end of 2019, allows only the state's licensed casinos to offer the two forms of gambling. Platform providers can pair up with the casinos.

The long-awaited move to open up online wagering in the state — which has generated huge interest and enthusiasm from fans, as well as an advertising blitz from operators and platform providers — comes just in time for NFL conference championships this weekend and Super Bowl LV on Feb. 7. 

It also comes at a pivotal moment for casinos, which have weathered shutdown orders and strict capacity limits since the onset of the novel coronavirus pandemic in early 2020, sharply driving down revenues. 

Detroit's three casinos — MGM Grand, MotorCity and Greektown — reported nearly $639 million in aggregate revenue in 2020, down 57% from a record of nearly $1.5 billion in 2019, according to the gaming control board. They paid $73.8 million in wagering taxes and development agreement payments to the city in 2020, down from $184.2 million paid in 2019.

Online sports betting will be taxed at a rate of 8.4%. The rate for online gaming ranges from about 20% to 28%, according to MGCB.

The state permitted on-site sports betting to begin in March, days before widespread game cancellations and before casinos were ordered to close to help stop the spread of the virus. Greektown and MGM, for example, have already launched retail sportsbooks, as have several tribal casinos.

Greektown's platform provider partner is Barstool Sportsbook, which is tied to sports and pop culture-focused digital media company Barstool Sports. During launch weekend, Penn National will partner with Barstool on a fundraiser to assist small businesses in the state that have been impacted by the pandemic, part of a broader effort by Barstool to support small businesses across the country.

Michigan residents can make their first-time deposit on the Barstool Sportsbook mobile app. Penn will then match it with a donation to the The Barstool Fund, provided participants wager an equal amount or more than their first-time deposit during the weekend.

Ahead of the launch, Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy — a brash figure with a large internet following who has drawn criticism for his behavior — visited Detroit, and tweeted from outside Supino Pizzeria and from inside Greektown Casino. 

"Our own sportsbook, first one — it is kind of (expletive) awesome if we're totally honest with each other," Portnoy said in a video posted on Twitter highlighting the launch weekend and his small business initiative. 

"I'm going to save every (expletive) business in this state, and then we're going to get rich doing it," he said.

He also shared a video on Twitter in which he called the owner of Holly Lanes, a bowling alley in Fenton, which has been selected as a recipient of assistance from The Barstool Fund.

The platforms casinos are using for gaming and sports betting typically are available for iOS and Android, and many are offering promotions for new customers in Michigan leading up to Friday's launch.

For FAQs related to the launch, visit MGCB's website. Additionally, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services maintains a 24-hour, toll-free gambling-problem helpline at 1-800-270-7117.

You must be 21 years or older to participate in online gaming or sports betting. 


Twitter: @JGrzelewski