First Sports Illustrated-Branded Retail Sportsbook Opens In Michigan

New sportsbook part of changeover after TwinSpires pulled out of tribal partnership




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This month, 888 Holdings launched the first-ever Sports Illustrated-branded brick-and-mortar sportsbook at Island Resort & Casino, a tribal casino in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

The resort is owned and operated by the Hannahville Indian Community, and the SI book will hopefully represent some welcome stability in the tribe’s sports betting journey to date. The tribe initially partnered with Churchill Downs-owned TwinSpires to operate its sportsbook, but had the rug pulled out from under it when TwinSpires announced in February 2022 that it was getting out of the sports wagering business due to a “highly competitive” market.

“We were kind of shocked,” Tony Mancilla, Island’s general manager, told The New York Times earlier this year. “We had our prom dress on, and we didn’t have a date.”

An ‘exciting new chapter’

TwinSpires wound down betting last August (it still operates its front-running advance deposit wagering platform for horse racing), and 888 quickly stepped in to become the tribe’s new sports wagering partner. The recently opened Sports Illustrated book at Island is powered by the OpenBet platform.

“Delivering this landmark retail platform for such an iconic brand is a significant milestone for OpenBet and underscores our commitment to ensuring our partners are equipped with cutting-edge technology and unrivaled content,” Deb Krupinski, OpenBet’s U.S. vice president, said in a press release that went out Wednesday. “We’re excited about the future and eager to see the successes this launch will bring.”

“Our alliance with OpenBet to power Sports Illustrated Sportsbook, celebrated with this launch, paints a promising future for the retail betting landscape in Michigan,” added Howard Mittman, U.S. president at 888 Holdings. “As we stand on the cusp of this exciting new chapter, our collective vision and expertise are set to redefine customer experiences.”

Photo: Hyoung Chang/The Denver Post