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When online casinos launch in Michigan (follow our live updates for the latest), the Great Lakes State will become just the fifth state to do so.
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Only Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia beat Michigan to launch.
But unlike Michigan sportsbook apps, there’s more uncertainty in the Michigan online casino game.
Delaware’s market is very constrained and West Virginia just launched this summer, so there’s really two states with strong data to comb.
And things could be different in Michigan for a number of reasons compared to online casino havens New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
Still, let’s take a stab at what to expect for the online casino market in Michigan. We’ll start with the presumed heavy hitters.
The market leaders
These four Michigan online casinos have a decent shot of capturing the top slot of market share in Michigan.
Golden Nugget Casino
Golden Nugget is the market leader in New Jersey and has high hopes for Michigan.
In the Garden State, Golden Nugget has 777 slot titles, easily lapping the field there. With server requirements set as they are, don’t expect Golden Nugget to launch with buckets of games.
Golden Nugget Online Gaming, however, has a proven record in NJ, and a lot of experience, which gives them a leg up on some other Michigan apps.
The one downside might come down to name recognition in Michigan. Even so, Golden Nugget’s owner Tilman Fertitta said an early 2021 launch is likely.
The company has a technology partnership with Scientific Games and market access through the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community.
DraftKings Casino leads rival FanDuel in Pennsylvania, though both are looking up at the pair of brands from Rush Street Interactive.
DraftKings has an access agreement in Michigan with the Bay Mills Indian Community and should be among the first brands to market. It has made a name for itself with unique casino game titles such as Touchdown Blackjack and Basketball Roulette.
It’s one of two brands live in West Virginia but got its start in New Jersey.
FanDuel Casino, like its DraftKings counterpart, is poised to be a major player in online casinos simply because of its connection to sports betting and fantasy sports. And all of this following the success of its retail sportsbook at MotorCity Casino in Detroit.
That partnership gives FanDuel Casino online access, but the company has already upped the game by partnering with Evolution Gaming for live dealer.
The shared wallet with sports bettors should be a convenient way to cross-sell for FanDuel Casino, too, which was the sixth online casino to launch in PA. When it did, it had five tables games and 12 slots.
BetMGM Casino is partnered with the state’s busiest casino (MGM Grand Detroit), has a deal with Evolution for live dealer products, and has a big bet on Michigan.
With GVC backing the site in its partnership with MGM Resorts International, this is a formidable brand. It has a proven record in sports betting, and a healthy dose of respect in New Jersey and West Virginia.
BetMGM will be aligned with partypoker, one of the expected online poker brands in MI. At launch, BetMGM online casino won’t be flush with games. But its pairing with a robust sportsbook app will give it major pull in Michigan.
Just like in online sports betting, three Native American tribes are self-branding and building their online casino products. The brands are a wildcard for the market, though getting to the top of the mountain would be unexpected.
The Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi Indians is branding their own products for FireKeepers Casino, in partnership with Scientific Games.
The Battle Creek casino is one of the largest in the state, and is building a tower for its hotel. This is not an entity opposed to spending money, so expect heavy marketing when the platform goes live.
Four Winds Casino
Four Winds Casino operators, the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, linked with Kambi for its online gambling products.
There are three Four Winds properties in southwest Michigan, including the flagship location in New Buffalo. Another advantage could come down the line if online casinos ever launch in Indiana. The sister South Bend location could provide a bigger pool of customers that cross state lines.
Soaring Eagle Casino
The state’s largest casino and a recognizable statewide brand, Soaring Eagle Casino still has not announced its technology partner. Sports betting is coming to the casino in mid-January and it’s looking like an online casino launch could be after that.
Soaring Eagle and its sister casino, Saganing Eagles Landing Casino in Standish, are the only casinos in a wide area in mid-Michigan. That’s a lot of potential customers that see their numerous billboards.
The Michigan online casino contenders
We don’t want to bury any of these Michigan online casinos. They all have a shot to surprise and some are worthy contenders in other markets. A couple of them have international name recognition. But for them to lead the way after Michigan’s online casino launch would be a surprise.
Southeast Michigan Casinos
In Pennsylvania, Rush Street Interactive operates two online casinos with BetRivers Casino joined by PlaySugarHouse. The pair has combined to lead the Pennsylvania market.
It’ll be just the one brand here in Michigan, and it will be interesting to see what that does to Rush Street’s overall position.
Hollywood Casino is a Penn National Gaming product and could have some name recognition in southeast Michigan, as that’s the name of the company’s Toledo casino.
This product has market access through Greektown Casino in Detroit and is operated by Kambi. Barstool Sportsbook also could be a nice cross-sell opportunity.
Northwest Michigan Casinos
There’s also a chance this becomes Barstool Casino down the line, which could be popular with a younger demographic.
The world’s most popular online poker site will launch PokerStars Casino through the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians.
The tribe is launching sports betting online as Fox Bet, and PokerStars expects to be a leader in Michigan online poker, too.
The combined force of all three online gambling channels in Michigan may stir a few pots down the road.
William Hill Casino
Another brand linked with Evolution for live dealer products, the Grand Traverse Bay Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians connected with William Hill for online access.
William Hill is a hot brand in sports betting and only recently added a William Hill online casino in New Jersey.
Will the European company be able to gain traction in Michigan, and what will the Caesarsdeal mean long-term for the brand? For now, it’s wait and see.
Michigan is big for PointsBet Casino as it will be its introductory launch for the online casino.
The Australian group partnered with Evolution for live dealer products, too, and the Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians for access.
So Michigan is big for PointsBet, but will PointsBet be big in Michigan? It all depends on the caliber of its online casino and the cross-sell with its sportsbook.
The final three
Another Evolution client for live dealer games, Wynn Interactive has big plans for US online gambling expansion.
The Wynn Casino brand would do well to get Michigan started on the right foot through its partnership with the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians. As it is, it only recently joined a competitive NJ market.
Owner Churchill Downs Inc. has multi-year agreements with GAN and Kambi for BetAmerica Casino platform services.
The company is partnered with the Hannahville Indian Community for access. BetAmerica, however, is known mostly for its horse betting ties. It may be a hard sell for Michiganders looking for an online casino brand.
Parx Casino has online access in Michigan through the Gun Lake Tribe.
The Pennsylvania online casino brand launched in 2019 in PA and took in more than $173 million in online slots and table games bets in September 2020.
The Grand Rapids area could gravitate to Parx because of its Gun Lake Casino tie. That’s a nice-sized market it has a chance to capitalize on.
NEW BUFFALO — Sports betting is now live at the three Four Winds Casinos in Southwest Michigan.
The Pokagon Band of Potawatomi formally launched its new sportsbook today, which will be available at Four Winds locations in New Buffalo, Hartford and Dowagiac.
Four Winds partnered with Kambi Group plc, an independent sportsbook partner with clients around the globe. The company maintains a domestic office in Philadelphia.
Through the partnership, patrons are now able to place bets on a wide range of sports, including baseball, basketball, football, hockey, soccer and more.
Sports betters currently don’t have much to bet on with the COVID-19 pandemic stalling virtually every professional sports season throughout the country, leaving golf and auto racing as some of the only available action as the NBA and MLB prepare to launch their seasons.
The interface allows patrons to scan a QR code with the camera of their smartphone to access the Four Winds betting website. Once they make their bets, they will be provided with an additional QR code to be scanned at the sportsbook or guest services counters of all three locations, where bets will be placed.
The New Buffalo location will feature 18 self-service kiosks and Hartford and Dowagiac will both feature six kiosks each.
The Four Winds Casino location in South Bend, Ind. does not offer a sportsbook.
“Following the legalization of sports betting in Michigan, our casino operations team completed an extensive evaluation of potential partners to create the Four Winds Sportsbook,” said Matthew Wesaw, Tribal Council Chairman and CEO of the Pokagon Gaming Authority. “Ultimately, Kambi was recommended and the partnership was approved by the Pokagon Gaming Commission and Pokagon Gaming Authority.
“We are very excited that we now offer sports betting as part of our growing list of amenities at our casino locations in Michigan,” Wesaw stated.
In December 2019, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed into law a bill legalizing sports betting and online gaming in Michigan. Following that, tribes across Michigan have worked to cement deals with partners to operate their sportsbooks and iGaming platforms.
The Little River Band of Ottawa Indians recently linked up with Chicago-based Rush Street Interactive LLC for the venture at its Little River Casino in Manistee, while Bay Mills Indian Community in the eastern Upper Peninsula signed a partnership with Boston-based DraftKings Inc. to operate the tribe’s sportsbook at Bay Mills Resort & Casino in Brimley.
As a provider of sports betting services, Kambi’s clients include both Rush Street Interactive and DraftKings, as well as Detroit-based Greektown Casino operator Penn National Gaming, according to the company.
Casinos Southwest Florida
“We are very proud to be entering this partnership with the Pokagon Band and its Four Winds Casinos,” Kambi CEO Kristian Nylén said in a statement earlier this month. “They are a leading operator in the Midwest and share our commitment to providing customers with consistently engaging experiences.”
Former Chicago Bears defensive tackle, now a football analyst, Steve “Mongo” McMichael was present at the New Buffalo location on Monday to place the ceremonial first bet.