Michigan Sports Betting Deals: PointsBet & Stars Group Move Swiftly
It’s all systems go for online sports and gaming in Michigan and operators have not been slow in positioning themselves to enter the newly regulated and legal market.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer gave the green light after inking her name across a package of bills in December, effectively legalizing sports betting, poker, casino games and daily fantasy sports, and paving the way for a 2020 rollout.
Per the bills, the state’s 23 tribal and three commented casinos are eligible to apply for a sports betting license, which carries a $50,000 application fee, $100,000 for the actual license and then another $50,000 to renew annually.
The state has set an 8.4% tax on adjusted gross sports betting receipts, which compares very well with other states that have legalized sports betting, while the commercial casinos have to pay a small city tax to Detroit on top of that. A fair chunk of tax revenue will go to state schools.
The language of the legislation also limits license holders to one internet sports betting platform, or “skin“ as they are known in the industry, and two operators in particular have been quick to show their hand by procuring tribal deals.
The Stars Group/LTTB Odawa tribe
The Stars Group, which brings two brands to the table in PokerStars and Fox Bet, has signed a deal with the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, which will allow them to offer real-money betting poker and casino games in the state.
In return, The Stars Group will give the tribe, which owns two land-based properties under the Odawa Casino brand in Petoskey and Mackinaw, a share of its online gambling revenue.
“We are excited to announce this agreement with the Odawa tribe, which further strengthens our market access as we work to continue to build our Fox Bet business into one of the leaders in the emerging US online betting and gaming market,” commented Fox Bet chief executive Robin Chhabra.
PointsBet has partnered with the Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, signing a 20-year access agreement which will see it launch its own-branded online/mobile product in the state.
PointsBet are also in negotiations to operate a retail sportsbook at the tribe’s Northern Waters Casino Resort.
As well paying LVD fixed access fees, it’s understood that PointsBet will hand over a share of net gaming revenues generated.
“PointsBet is pleased to have reached an agreement for both online sportsbook and online casino operations with such a forward-thinking tribe and we look forward to many years of great success working together in Michigan,” said PointsBet group chief executive Sam Sewell.
Both the above deals are subject to licenses being issued and all parties meeting regulatory approval under state law.
More deals on the way?
Absolutely given the size of the state and the relatively operator-friendly tax rate, and both FanDuel and DraftKings – the early leaders in the U.S. sports betting expansion – can be expected to sign access deals sooner rather than later.
Two other operators, MGM Resorts and Penn National, are already well positioned in the Wolverine State given that they operate properties in Detroit: the MGM Grand Detroit and Greektown Casino-Hotel respectively.
The former property opened its MoneyLine Sports Lounge in October last year and will soon feature eight betting windows and self-service kiosks, with officials hoping to launch in time for March Madness.
“This is an exciting opportunity for Michiganders, meeting their demand for sports wagering and generating more state revenue and funding for public schools,” said Michael Neubecker, president and chief operating officer of the MGM Grand Detroit.
For online operators, however, it’s a race against time to be up and running for the NCAA’s headline basketball tournament, and a six-month turnaround from legalization to the first bets being placed is perhaps more realistic.
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