The first Michigan sportsbooks began taking in-person bets in March 2020 and online sports betting likely will follow by the end of the year.
Michigan finally legalized retail and mobile sports betting in December 2019 after trying since 2015.
The future of Michigan sports betting
Sports betting got off to a slow start in Michigan as the three commercial casinos in Detroit opened their sportsbooks the same week that sports leagues began shutting down because of the coronavirus pandemic. Soon after, the casinos and their sportsbooks were forced to shut down as well.
It could still be an exciting year for sports betting in Michigan. Casinos will reopen, sports will get back under way, tribal casinos will begin entering the market and online wagering could come by the end of 2020.
When will online sports betting launch in Michigan?
Mobile wagering is coming to Michigan, and the only question is how soon. Originally, the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) made a cautious projection of early 2021.
But with the COVID-19 pandemic making an online option even more important to casino revenues, there is a concerted effort among all involved in the process to get the rulemaking and licensing for internet gambling and mobile sports wagering done as soon as possible.
The MGCB recently indicated that it was pursuing a more optimistic timeline that could have online sports betting in Michigan available in October 2020.
Online sportsbooks must be tethered to the three commercial casinos or 12 federally recognized Indian tribes that operate the state’s 23 tribal casinos. Operators are limited to using one internet sports betting platform.
PointsBet, which will provide online casino and sports betting for the Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians and retail sports betting at their Northern Waters Casino, became the first sportsbook with a Major League Baseball team sponsorship deal in July 2020.
Michiganders have a lot to look forward to when online sports wagering arrives in Michigan. Expected operators lined up to have mobile sports betting apps in Michigan include:
- Barstool Sportsbook (Greektown Casino)
- BetMGM (MGM Grand Detroit)
- DraftKings (Bay Mills Indian Community)
- FanDuel (MotorCity Casino)
- FOX Bet (Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians)
- PointsBet (Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians)
- William Hill (Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians)
Legal sports betting basics in Michigan
The state’s gambling laws are laid out in the Michigan Gaming Control and Revenue Act of 1996. That Act authorized gambling in three casinos on non-tribal land in Detroit. Appetite for passage was partially driven by the construction of a new casino in Canada, just across the river from Michigan’s largest metropolis.
The measure was narrowly approved by 51.51% of the state voters and enacted into law the following year. It defines many forms of permitted “gambling games,” but there was no mention of sports betting.
That changed in December 2019 when Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed sports betting into law. The law allows for mobile sports betting as well as at the physical commercial and tribal casinos throughout the state. Online gaming was also legalized.
Sports betting revenue is taxed at 8.4%. The commercial casinos in Detroit will pay an additional 1.25% city tax.
The state currently has an online lottery, 23 tribal casinos, three commercial casinos, and two race tracks which host pari-mutuel horse betting.
Recent Michigan sports betting and DFS stories
Legal sports betting options in Michigan
Michiganders can bet on professional, collegiate and international sporting events at Michigan casinos and, soon, at online sportsbooks.
The only legal requirements are that you are over 21, physically located inside state lines when you bet, and not on a self-exclusion list. There is no requirement to be a permanent resident of Michigan.
There are also illegal offshore websites that offer sports betting in Michigan. Without regulation from the state, these offshore betting apps can’t be counted on to pay out winnings and have been known to disappear with people’s money. The safest option is to play with a reputable licensed sportsbook.
Most popular sports to bet on in Michigan
All major professional sports teams in Michigan are based in the city of Detroit. It is one of only 12 cities in the country to have teams from all four major North American sports leagues. Detroit is the only city ever to win three major professional sports championships in the same year.
The feat way back in 1935-36 gave it the nickname “City of Champions.” Michigan also features strong collegiate sports programs.
NHL betting in Michigan
There’s a reason Detroit is called Hockeytown. The Detroit Red Wings have won 11 Stanley Cup titles, most of any NHL franchise based in the US. However, it’s been a minute as the team’s last championship came in 2008. Founded in 1926, the Red Wings are one of the “Original 6” teams of the NHL.
NFL betting in Michigan
It says something about the popularity of the NFL that there’s an argument to be made for the Detroit Lions as the most popular team in the state. Although they did win four NFL championships from 1935 to 1957, the Lions are the only team in operation for the entire Super Bowl era never to play in one.
It’s not a streak likely to end anytime soon, but Michiganders will keep hope alive. The Lions signed a partnership deal with BetMGM prior to the 2020 NFL season.
MLB betting in Michigan
There’s something to be said for longevity. As by far the oldest professional sports team in Michigan, the Detroit Tigers have a passionate and loyal fanbase. The Tigers were founded in 1894 and became one of the American League’s eight charter franchises that went on to form one half of Major League Baseball in 1903.
Tigers fandom has passed down the generations since. The last of the Tigers’ four World Series titles came in 1984.
In July 2020, the Tigers announced a multiyear deal with PointsBet, the sponsorship between an MLB team and a sportsbook. As the official gaming partner of the Tigers, PointsBet will be featured on signage in Comerica Park and the team’s digital platforms.
NBA betting in Michigan
The Detroit Pistons might be the least popular of the major teams in Michigan, but when they win they do so with style. The “Bad Boys” with Isiah Thomas, Joe Dumars and Dennis Rodman played the villain role to perfection in 1989 and 1990.
Then the Pistons beat a Lakers lineup in 2004 that featured four future Hall of Famers. The Pistons haven’t won a playoff game in a dozen years, but they always seem to come back around.
NCAA betting in Michigan
After all that talk of the four major sports teams in the City of Champions, the most popular sports team in Michigan has to be Michigan Wolverines football. The Wolverines have 11 national titles and the most all-time wins in NCAA college football history.
The rivalry with Ohio State is one of the biggest in college athletics. Though there’s been some lean years of late, they’ve got a coach in Jim Harbaugh who shouldn’t be counted out to bring them back to glory.
The Wolverines have a legitimate in-state rival in the Michigan State Spartans, which have won six national titles in football. Amazingly, the Spartans have made the last 22 NCAA Tournaments while the Wolverines have made 8 of 9.
Michigan and Daily Fantasy Sports
In addition to legalizing online sports betting and internet gambling in 2019, Michigan tagged on daily fantasy sports.
Michiganders already were able to participate in fantasy contests on sites such as DraftKings, FanDuel, Yahoo! and Fantasy Draft. But now they can do so in a regulated environment.
With oversight from the Michigan Gaming Control Board, DFS sites paid $20,000 for an initial license, a $5,000 annual fee and are taxed at 8.4%.
Is horse racing legal in Michigan?
Yes, Michigan has one horse racetrack with simulcast betting. The package of gambling bills passed in December 2019 also added online horse betting.
Michigan began offering parimutuel betting on horse races back in 1933 and added simulcast racing in 1995.
There is only one racetrack left standing in Michigan, Northville Downs located just outside Detroit. People can bet on live thoroughbred racing at Northville and also watch and bet on races around North America.
Following the law to permit online horse betting, TVG became the first third-party facilitator to launch legal advanced-deposit wagering in June, just ahead of the last two legs of the Triple Crown. TwinSpires also is going through the regulatory process and is expected to be approved shortly.
Michigan sportsbooks and casinos
Michigan has three commercial casinos and 23 tribal casinos permitted to offer sports betting. MGM Grand Detroit and Greektown Casino opened their sportsbooks on May 11, 2020, with MotorCity following the next day. Soon after, the casinos were shut down as a result of the coronavirus, but the casinos and their sportsbooks are expected to open back up sometime in July.
The first tribal sportsbook opened in June 2020 at FireKeepers Casino.
Here’s a look at the Michigan sportsbooks open thus far:
MGM Grand Detroit
One of the biggest casino names in Las Vegas, MGM opened the BetMGM Sports Lounge on March 11, 2020, with 60 HDTVs providing wall-to-wall coverage of sporting events, six betting windows and 14 self-service kiosks.
Address: 1777 3rd Ave, Detroit, MI 48226
Sportsbook Hours: Daily 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Operated by Penn National Gaming, Greektown opened its temporary sportsbook on March 11, 2020, but plans to build a permanent one branded by Barstool Sports. Once online sports betting gains approval in the fall, Greektown plans to launch a Barstool Sportsbook App with technology from Kambi.
Address: 555 E Lafayette St, Detroit, MI 48226
Sportsbook Hours: Sun-Thu 9 a.m. to midnight, Fri and Sat 9 a.m. to 2 a.m.
MotorCity opened its FanDuel Sportsbook in style on March 12, 2020, with Detroit Lions legend Barry Sanders placing the first bet. The sportsbook features 67 HDTVs and 54 self-service IGT PlaySports betting kiosks.
The casino is owned by Little Caesars Pizza co-founder Marian Ilitch, who also owns the Detroit Red Wings and Detroit Tigers.
Address: 2901 Grand River Ave, Detroit, MI 48201
Sportsbook Hours: Mon-Thu 10 a.m. to 1 a.m., Fri 10 a.m. to 2 a.m., Sat 9 a.m. to 2 a.m., Sun 9 a.m. to 1 a.m.
FireKeepers became the first tribal casino with sports betting in Michigan when it opened Dacey’s Sportsbook on June 22, 2020. The sportsbook is part of Dacey’s Taphouse restaurant. There are three live-wagering windows and four self-service kiosks.
Address: 11177 E Michigan Ave, Battle Creek, MI 49014
Sportsbook Hours: Mon-Fri 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Sat and Sun 9 a.m. to midnight, kiosks 7 a.m. to 5 a.m.
Michigan sports betting timeline
The first retail Michigan sportsbooks opened just days before the beginning of shutdowns statewide and nationwide because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Most casinos in and around Detroit really did not have a chance to launch sports betting in earnest prior to the closings.
In June, Michigan gaming regulators signaled a willingness to advance their timeline for online sports betting from early 2021 to late 2020. They began pursuing this path as a response to the pandemic and could bring mobile sportsbooks to the state much sooner than first anticipated.
In December 2019, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed a package of gambling expansion bills into law that included legalizing online sports betting and fantasy sports contests.
When Rep. Brandt Iden introduced H 4916, he couldn’t get the governor to discuss the gambling expansion package with him. It seemed like partisan politics could derail the bill as Whitmer, a newly elected Democrat, warred with the Republican-controlled legislature.
The governor even opposed the bills when they passed the House in October. But Iden was able to tag team with Sen. Curtis Hertel Jr., who was able to use his longtime connections with the governor to broker an agreement between Whitmer and industry stakeholders.
Iden thought he had an internet gambling bill passed in 2018 that included one line that could have led to legal sports betting in Michigan.
The bill gave the Michigan Gaming Control Board authority to permit internet gambling operators to accept sports betting wagers.
Iden and Sen. Mike Kowall worked hard to get all stakeholders on board with H 4926 only to have Gov. Rick Snyder veto the bill.
Iden began his efforts to pass internet gambling legislation in 2017. His first version of H 4926 prohibited sports betting, but a substitute version flipped the script and Iden included provisions for legalization.
Late in 2017, Iden’s Lawful Internet Gaming Act became the first with sports betting language to pass through the Committee on Regulatory Reform.
Well before the US Supreme Court overturned PASPA, Rep. Robert Kosowski started off efforts to legalize Michigan sports betting.
In 2015, he introduced the state’s first two pieces of sports betting legislation. H 4669 moved to allow casinos to conduct sports betting. H 4670 would have extended the permissions to include wagering on simulcast horse racing, too.
Rep. Kosowski re-introduced his 2015 bill once again in 2016. This time, H 5828 included language that would permit third parties to offer sports betting, in addition to the commercial casinos.
The bills never made it out of committee, but they did start the conversation for MI sports betting.
Michigan sports betting FAQ
Is sports betting legal in Michigan?
Yes, sports betting is legal in Michigan. In-person betting started in March 2020 with online expected to follow before the end of the year. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed a bill into law in late December 2019 despite it looking like a dead-end for the majority of the year.
Who oversees Michigan sports betting?
The Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) regulates sports betting in the state. It sets and enforce the rules and regulations under which casinos and sportsbooks operate.
Where can I bet on sports in Michigan?
Retail sports betting went live in March 2020. Mobile sports betting eventually will be available throughout Michigan via smartphones, tablets, and computers. You need to be physically located in Michigan to use any of the options.
Who can apply for a Michigan sports betting license?
All commercial and tribal casinos would be allowed to apply under the approved bill.
These are the three commercial casinos in Detroit:
- Greektown Casino
- MGM Grand Detroit
- Motor City Casino
Who can bet on sports in Michigan?
You have to be 21 in order to place a sports bet in Michigan. Otherwise, only certain key personnel associated with sports teams and leagues are restricted from betting.
Will mobile sports betting be available in Michigan?
Yes, mobile sports betting is on the way. Rules are being written to govern mobile sports betting in Michigan and the state is aiming for a launch around October 2020.