Retail betting opens in Michigan, as sports events close

Michigan Lion retail betting sportsbook
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Retail betting officially kicked off in Michigan, signalling the end of one of America’s most pained and protracted legislative efforts to launch since PASPA was repealed two years ago.


Two casinos, MGM Grand Detroit and Penn National Greektown (replete with Barstool branding), took the first wagers in the state on 6 March. While the state’s only other commercial casino, MotorCity (partnered with FanDuel) followed suit the day after. Progress at Michigan’s 23 tribal casinos is expected to be slower, as will the evermore important online channel.

William Hill, Fox Bet and Points Bet have all partnered with tribes in one form or another. Will Hill’s deals with Turtle Creek Casino and another at Leelanau Sands Casino & Lodge, hope to come to fruition in time for football season.

Even for those sportsbooks that managed to get up and running in time for March Madness, the victory was short-lived due to sport cancellations and social distancing measures in the wake of the coronavirus.

Making matters more frustrating, the state’s generous array of mobile gambling options – which would help both bettors and operators weather the storm – are still not available.

The Michigan regulator assured its staff “continues to develop administrative rules for online sports betting, online casino gaming and fantasy sports.”

“The rules should be final by early 2021, and online and mobile sports betting and gaming can begin next year after proper licenses are issued to the Michigan tribes and the Detroit commercial casinos and the firms that assist with these activities.”

Governor Gretchen Whitmer had previously instructed the Commission not to use emergency powers to rush through mobile regulations this year. Operators will no doubt be requesting a rethink.

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