MGM Grand Detroit Opens Sportsbook Without Sports Betting

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Michigan’s efforts to legalize sports betting are currently at a standstill, but that isn’t stopping MGM Grand Detroit from getting a sportsbook ready.

On Oct. 9, the casino opened its Moneyline Sports Lounge. While there are no moneylines available yet for actual wagering, the space has the look of a Las Vegas-style sportsbook. The space in MGM Grand Detroit is branded similarly to the casino operator’s retail sportsbook in Atlantic City at The Borgata, dubbed Moneyline Bar & Book.

The space, equipped with 60 TVs, is billed as the first of its kind for the city of Detroit, home to three commercial casinos. Rep. Brandt Iden, sponsor of the sports betting legislation currently sitting in a House committee, told MiBets earlier this year that Detroit casinos were already getting their ducks in a row ahead of legalization. The casinos need it, as gaming win has been flat for years.

This spring, Iden was hopeful that Michigan would be able to have legal sports betting during the NFL season. That window is quickly closing, as negotiations with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer currently are stuck in neutral. The Whitmer Administration wants a state tax rate of 15% on sports wagering revenue , which is 5% higher than what sportsbook operators consider a reasonable range. Iden is seeking an 8% rate, while neighbor Indiana’s rate is 9.5%.

A local TV sports reporter was on site during the first day to capture footage of what locals are apparently calling a sportsbook sans sports betting. According to WXYZ Detroit, the space will be home to a sportsbook if and when the Republican-controlled legislature and the Democratic governor are able to sort out the complicated policy issue.

Mobile wagering

While the Moneyline Sports Lounge will be a centerpiece of the casino, MGM will find online/mobile sports wagering to be more lucrative. MGM will one day offer its BetMGM product in Michigan.

Around 85% of the betting handle in New Jersey is coming via online sportsbooks. The brick-and-mortar sportsbook is an experience, but overall the betting public prefers the convenience of wagering from a mobile device or computer.

Recently introduced substitute legislation would authorize statewide online/mobile sports betting in the absence of the proposed online casino law finding passage. Previously, sports betting and online casino were tie-barred, meaning that Michigan would have to legalize online slots, table games, and poker in order to have mobile sportsbooks. That’s no longer the case, which should make it easier to enact a sports betting law. Whitmer totally opposes online slots.

Still, Whitmer and proponents are a ways off with ironing out the sport betting bill. Whitmer’s office last week told WXYZ Detroit that the “fiscal implication” of the sports betting bill in its current form is “concerning,” but that she’s “open to further discussion.”

Brian Pempus

Brian served as a senior reporter and online content manager for Card Player Magazine for nearly a decade before joining USBets in October 2018. He is currently focused on legal and regulated sports betting and online gaming. He's an avid jiu-jitsu practitioner in his free time.

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