Michigan draws the sports betting community’s attention with its online launch By Howard Stutz, Executive Editor, CDC Gaming Reports January 26, 2021 at 6:31 pm Online sports betting went live last weekend in Michigan with 10 different platforms, each with a single partner – one of Detroit’s three commercial casinos and seven of the state’s tribal gaming properties. That’s a crowded field even for a populous, sports-crazy state like Michigan. Imagine the frenzy in California and Texas if those states ever decide to get around to legalizing sports betting. New York is already causing a stir with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan to let the state’s lottery oversee online sports betting with just one operator. Sports betting companies will step all over each other to get into those lucrative markets. Why? Macquarie Securities gaming analyst Chad Beynon said sports betting and iGaming revenue could top more than $30 billion nationally by 2030 as states continue to ponder expansion. “The once disparate categories of online gaming, media, and sports are joining teams to create powerful partnerships that we believe will grow viewership, increase overall fan engagement, and drive significantly higher market values for all those connected,” Beynon told investors in a research note published Tuesday. Meanwhile, Bank of America’s gaming analysts predicted Michigan’s online sports betting rollout would produce more than $50 million in wagers for the month, even with the abbreviated January launch. The opening weekend included both NFL conference championship games on Sunday, the Conor McGregor-Dustin Poirier UFC fight on Saturday night, and a full slate of NBA, NHL, and college basketball games. According to PlayMichigan, the state’s three Detroit casino sportsbooks took in a combined $130 million in wagers since retail sites launched last March. Based on the opening weekend, online sports betting in Michigan could resemble New Jersey, where online provides more than 80% of the total wagers. DraftKings, FanDuel, Barstool Sports, BetMGM, BetRivers.com, and William Hill US, were among the sports betting operators jumping into Michigan through the online world. Barstool Sportsbook at the Greektown Casino in Detroit “It’s going to be a competitive market, but we don’t run away from competition,” DraftKings Director of Race and Sportsbook Johnny Avello said last week. Each sought out a niche. BetRivers.com, which is operated by Rush Street Gaming in partnership with the Little River Casino in Manistee – roughly two hours north of Grand Rapids – became the sports betting partner of the NBA’s Detroit Pistons. Media platform Barstool Sports brought its team of personalities to Penn National Gaming’s Greektown Hotel Casino in Detroit to help launch the Barstool app. Penn National owns 36% of Barstool. Dave Portnoy, the founder of Barstool, spent the weekend at Greektown’s sportsbook with the Barstool personalities, broadcasting the entire stay on his social media platforms. Portnoy dropped a $100,000 wager on the Pistons and another heavy wager of the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings. He lost both bets. “I’m never betting on the Pistons or Wings ever again,” Portnoy posted to Twitter. Analysts predicted DraftKings and FanDuel, the sports betting partner with Detroit’s Motor City Casino, were the winners last weekend based on downloads of their apps, each with 30% of the Michigan market. Barstool and BetMGM, which is partnered with the MGM Grand Detroit, each had between 10% and 15% of the market. DraftKings operates a retail sportsbook at Bay Mills Resort & Casino in the Upper Peninsula on the shores of Lake Superior for the Bay Mills Indian Community – some 340 miles north of Detroit. Michigan’s remote registration process gave DraftKings access to the state’s population centers. Oppenheimer gaming analyst Jed Kelly noted last week that Michigan’s online sports betting launch would offer “unique insight” into competition in other states. He said Michigan was the first state where all key players entered the market simultaneously. In less than three years since the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling that opened the U.S. to legal sports betting, 20 states – Virginia launched on Friday – and Washington D.C. have skin in the game. Five more states – Washington, North Carolina, Louisiana, Maryland, and South Dakota – could launch this year. Michigan had the attention this past week. New York’s attempt to approve online sports betting and any efforts toward legalization in California and Texas will suck all the air out of the room. Howard Stutz is the executive editor of CDC Gaming Reports. He can be reached at email@example.com. Follow @howardstutz on Twitter.