With TwinSpires winding down its online sportsbook, a new operator is preparing for the Michigan sports betting market.
TwinSpires shut down its MI sports betting Sept. 6, according to a company email last month. Churchill Downs Inc. announced its intentions to shutter the online sports betting operations in February 2022.
Its exit in Michigan opened a sports betting license through the Island Resort & Casino, operated by the Hannahville Indian Community. Earlier this month, the Michigan Gaming Control Board approved 888 Holdings to operate the Sports Illustrated brand sportsbook in Michigan, according to an MGCB release.
“The Hannahville tribe is the first operator in Michigan to change platform providers since internet gaming and sports betting began here in January 2021,” MGCB Executive Director Henry Williams said in the release. “The tribe has found another experienced partner, and I wish them continued success.”
SI looks toward Michigan sports betting
During its H1 2022 earnings report, 888 said it planned to launch Michigan during H2 2022. Last month, signs on the SI Sportsbook website began to show hints at a connection with the Island Resort.
The SI Sportsbook website included an Island Resort logo in the corner and Michigan was one of three states in a drop-down menu.
Earlier, however, spokespeople from both 888 and the MGCB declined to confirm the connection between the sportsbook operator and Hannahville. The release said the license is for sports betting, but that online casino could be added in the future.
TwinSpires draws down its online sports betting
During its February Q4 earnings call, Churchill Downs CEO Bill Carstanjen said there was not a clear path toward profitability in the “highly competitive” online sports betting market. Churchill Downs replaced its BetAmerica sports betting brand with TwinSpires in 2020.
In its most recent call, Carstanjen said the company would seek to build its profitable TwinSpires horse racing business and begin selling it B2B to sportsbook operators, as it did to FanDuel this month.
TwinSpires has sports betting licenses tied to its properties in:
- Illinois sports betting
- Indiana sports betting
- Louisiana sports betting
- Ohio sports betting
- Pennsylvania sports betting
888 pushes SI Sportsbook in US
In May 2021, 888 entered a 20-year brand partnership with Authentic Brands Group, owners of Sports Illustrated. The international sportsbook operator gained exclusive rights to the SI brand for online sports betting.
The partnership is still early in its experiment of how a legacy media brand could help an established overseas operator. Other sportsbooks tied to media organizations, like Fox Bet and Barstool Sportsbook, have yet to secure much market share in the US sports betting landscape.
SI Sportsbook is live in Colorado and Virginia.