MGM Grand Detroit Could Be City’s Only Sportsbook Open For March Madness Start

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The city of Detroit will soon be home to at least one retail sportsbook.

MGM Grand Detroit told MiBets Wednesday that its sportsbook will open March 11, well ahead of the upcoming NCAA Men’s Basketball March Madness tournament that kicks off on March 17. The casino opened its Moneyline Sports Lounge in October, a space that will be the home of the retail book.

Photos of the sportsbook have already started to appear online. Kiosks have already been installed.

MGM Grand Detroit controls 42% of the casino gambling market in the city.

Greektown Casino and MotorCity Casino, the other two Detroit properties, told MiBets Thursday that there’s no firm opening date for their respective sports betting amenity. Both could be taking bets in time for the first game of the tournament, but it’s no guarantee at this time.

Michigan tribal casinos can also have sportsbooks, but none of them have announced opening dates.

Online betting a ways off

Retail wagering is a positive development for Michigan, which passed gambling expansion legislation in December. However, online/mobile betting is where the action is and that won’t launch until early 2021, at the earliest, according to recent comments from the Michigan Gaming Control Board.

Neighboring Indiana, home to six online/mobile sportsbooks as of Thursday, has a much better market for sports bettors. Michiganders living close to the Indiana border will more than likely see the advantage of traveling into the Hoosier State to bet, rather than driving to Detroit. With that said, March Madness is typically a more social experience and many people will appreciate the atmosphere of a retail sportsbook during the action-packed tournament games.

In Indiana, more than 70% of the sports betting handle came via the internet in January, a percentage that will only increase over time. Indiana began online gambling in October. Pennsylvania and New Jersey are seeing nearly 90% of their respective handles take place in cyberspace.

It will presumably be the same story for Michigan, with retail betting representing only a small piece of the market potential.

To make matters worse for Michigan, one of Indiana’s legal sports betting apps is MGM’s BetMGM product, which launched in late February. The casino operator is incentivized to draw some Michiganders into the Hoosier State for online/mobile wagering. MGM has a sports betting deal with Buffalo Wild Wings, and there’s a restaurant location in the northeastern corner of the state.

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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