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Detroit Casinos Offering Plenty of March Madness Action

The three retail casinos have plans to capitalize on one of sports betting’s biggest events




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Texas landed seven teams in the field for March Madness. California landed five. Even Iowa, South Carolina, and a couple of other states with smaller populations than Michigan have multiple teams in this year’s NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

The Wolverine State, with more than 10 million people and seven Division I teams, got just one — Michigan State — into this year’s field. But for fans of one of the sporting calendar’s biggest events, as long as you have a little money on the games — or even if you just like the passion and pageantry of college athletics — the frenetic hoops action that starts Thursday morning will be must-see entertainment.

Let’s be clear: There’s nothing wrong with watching the Madness from the comfort of your own living room, bedroom, or den, perhaps while placing some bets through your mobile device. If you’ve got a TV in the bathroom, all the better. But there’s another option for people in and around Detroit: putting on shoes and venturing out to be with other humans.

And for those with a taste for action, what better ambience outside of Las Vegas could you ask for than the sportsbooks at one of Detroit’s three brick-and-mortar casinos, which are located within about a mile of one another? The MGM Grand Detroit, Motor City Casino-Hotel, and Hollywood Casino Greektown all have special events planned for this year’s tournament, and all expect robust crowds.

Remember, play responsibly. Now, let’s take a look at what each of the Detroit retail casinos has cooking:

BetMGM Sports Lounge

If you’re looking for a table in the BetMGM Sports Lounge on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, or Sunday, you’re too late. The lounge is sold out through the weekend, according to MGM Grand spokesman Jason Barczy, who told MI Bets: “We’re expecting a ton of people and a lot of action this weekend.”

The BetMGM sportsbook is open 9 a.m. to midnight and, according to former MI Bets writer Don Emmons’ review of the three sportsbooks last year, it’s “spacious and plush. It evokes the feel more of a lounge than a sports bar. Clearly, it was designed with attention to detail. From the high-definition video screens to the tables and chairs, every item inside the lounge is high quality.”

The sportsbook offers six betting windows, 35 self-service kiosks throughout the casino, 60 high-definition TVs, 14 bar-top video poker machines, and, of course, a full bar.

The casino also is offering its March Matchups slot tournament through March 31. At the end of the tournament, the winning slot will be announced and featured on a $25,000 leaderboard.

In addition, the casino is offering customers at least $2.50 in slot dollars each Sunday in March. Customers may swipe their MGM Rewards card at a kiosk to take their chances at winning what the casino is calling “guaranteed free play” up to $1,000. Note that some states have barred use of terms such as “free play” in gambling marketing, as the bets often aren’t entirely without risk, so please read the fine print.

Barstool Sportsbook at Hollywood Greektown

If you’re looking for a more casual sports bar atmosphere, this might be the spot for you.

Of Barstool’s sportsbook, Emmons noted, “Detroit- and Michigan-based sports team memorabilia is propped up throughout the sports bar. This sportsbook is made for die-hard sports fans looking for a place to wager while enjoying a good burger or wings with a cold beer.”

The book features 40 betting kiosks, 25 high-definition TVs, and a 30-foot video wall. The sportsbook is open from 10 a.m. to midnight, while dining is offered 11 a.m. to midnight and the bar stays open until 2 a.m.

In keeping with the sports bar mentality, Barstool’s main March Madness promotion is all about sports betting. Thursday through Sunday, customers who bet $100 on March Madness games receive a free entry to win $50 in mycash and a spot in Square Madness for a chance to win up to $25,000. The promotion is available between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m.

FanDuel Sportsbook at Motor City Casino

This is a good spot for claustrophobes, as it offers the most spacious sportsbook of the three, spread over two stories. Emmons noted, “It stands out as the most laid-back environment of the bunch. It’s the neighborhood sportsbook where you get the feeling that most of the patrons know each other.”

The FanDuel operation includes six betting windows, 60 high-definition TVs, a sports ticker, and more than 50 self-service betting kiosks. The casino also has a VIP lounge with 1,100 feet of space featuring a bar and 15 HDTVs.

Mobile casino players also can participate in FanDuel’s March Super Sweeps every Tuesday through Saturday. Any casino bet of $200 or more gets a bettor an entry in Sunday’s sweepstakes drawing. The first two weeks will see 50 players receive a top prize of $1,000, while 100 others will get $500.

Bettors can enter the sweepstakes each day and receive extra entries based on how many consecutive days they enter. In the third week, ending April 2, 50 winners will receive top prizes of $3,000, while another 100 will get $500.

FanDuel is also currently offering its $1,000 Play It Again promotion. Casino players can get a refund in site credit for their net losses in the first 24 hours of casino play, with a minimum bonus of $5 and a max of $1,000. The bonus expires seven days after receipt, and FanDuel Sportsbook users aren’t eligible for the offer.

Photo: Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images