The momentum for online casino gambling in Michigan continues despite the COVID-19 outbreak shuttering casinos in the state temporarily.
On Friday, GAN plc announced a “market access” deal with the Sault Tribe of Chippewa Indians in Michigan. The business-to-business supplier of online gambling software will help power online betting for the tribe, which has five land-based casinos. Michigan gaming regulators are currently crafting regulations for both online casino and online/mobile sports wagering. Regulations are expected to be finalized in the first half of 2021. Retail sports wagering kicked off in early March in Detroit, but the wagering was short-lived as March Madness was soon thereafter postponed and casinos closed.
GAN’s deal to do business with the tribe in the state of Michigan comes in the wake of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signing legislation for both online casino and online/mobile sports wagering in late December, following a years-long legislative push by gambling expansion proponents in the Wolverine State.
Under the deal with the Sault Tribe, which operates casino gambling under a 1993 compact with the state, GAN will be providing its platform together with certain operational services to the tribe’s five land-based Kewadin casino properties. Additionally, GAN announced it will provide software to an “existing major U.S. casino operator client of GAN that has requested anonymity pending certain regulatory approvals.”
GAN is behind a proprietary internet gambling enterprise software system called GameSTACK.
In addition to 23 tribal casinos in Michigan, there are three commercial casinos in Detroit.
GAN cited a study that projected Michigan online gambling will be more lucrative than the New Jersey market, which saw $482 million in online casino revenue in 2020, a 61.6% increase compared to 2018. There was also more than $240 million in online/mobile sports betting revenue in the Garden State last year, creating a total online gambling market worth well north of $700 million.
According to GAN, Michigan could be worth more than $830 million in total online gambling win by its fourth year. Michigan has more than a million more residents than New Jersey, though it doesn’t have the state of New York next door as a feeder market. New York hasn’t legalized any form of online gambling.
“Michigan has long represented an attractive market with both internet sports and internet casino gaming now regulated,” Jeff Berman, chief commercial officer of GAN, said in a statement. “Our technical expertise and ‘day one’ experience in multiple U.S. internet gambling markets will enable the Sault Tribe to capture their share of the online opportunity and we thank them for their trust in forming this relationship with GAN and our major U.S. casino operator client whose identity will be confirmed in due course.”
Under Michigan online gambling law, the tribes are subject to the regulation of the Michigan Gaming Control Board for their online operations. Their retail casinos are regulated by the federal government.
Michigan’s Lawful Internet Gaming Act and Lawful Sports Betting Act allow each commercial casino operator and tribe in the state to have one skin for online sports betting, casino, and poker — for three in total.
“The Sault Tribe of Chippewa Indians is excited to take this important step with GAN and our mutual partner to bring both retail sports to our consumers at our five casino locations in short course, in addition to internet gaming casino on day-one when first allowed by the state of Michigan,” said Allen Kerridge, CEO of the Kewadin Gaming Authority. “We chose GAN and our mutual partner based on their market-leading technology and combined substantial experience serving gaming clients both online and offline.”
GAN’s market access deal follows a string of similar arrangements that have unfolded in just the three months and change since Gov. Whitmer signed the new legislation. It speaks to the attractiveness of the Michigan market. It’s one of six states with a law on the books for legal online casino gambling.
The following deals have been reached since Whitmer’s signature:
- MotorCity Casino with FanDuel
- Gun Lake Casino with Pennsylvania’s Parx Casino
- Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians with William Hill
- Nottawaseppi Huron Band of Potowatomi Indians with SG Digital
- Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians with The Stars Group
- Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians with PointsBet