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Michigan Mobile Sports Wagering Handle Hits Record $568.8 Million For November

ESPN BET’s strong nationwide launch was especially pronounced in the Wolverine State




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The Michigan Gaming Control Board reported $568.8 million in wagers from betting apps for November on Tuesday, an all-time monthly mobile high as PENN Entertainment aggressively and successfully launched ESPN BET in the Wolverine State.

Michigan had an overall sports betting handle of more than $584.1 million, setting a record for the second straight month. Digital wagering crossed $500 million for the first time as part of October’s short-lived handle record of $551.1 million.

PENN launched its ESPN BET across the nation in mid-November, and of the six states to report figures for the month, Michigan has been best in terms of both handle and revenue when it comes to market share. ESPN BET accepted $49.9 million worth of wagers, accounting for nearly 8.8% of total mobile handle.

ESPN BET’s 12.2% hold — more than double the statewide mobile win rate of just under 6% — led to $6.1 million in gross winnings. That was almost 18% of all mobile operator gross revenue. In the six states with figures available, ESPN BET has a 12.4% hold from $186.5 million, claiming $23.2 million in gross revenue.

ESPN launches arms race with promo spend

Mobile OperatorNovember 2023 Promotional Spend
ESPN BET$16,044,642
Promotional Spend by Select Mobile Operator, November 2023

ESPN BET did well in Michigan with good reason. Its $16 million-plus in promotional credits was the most among the three states where such figures are available, eclipsing the $13 million given to bettors in Maryland.

That meant ESPN BET had an adjusted gross revenue of minus-$10.1 million, far beyond any deficit FanDuel and DraftKings accrued at their respective launches in January 2021. FanDuel’s AGR was nearly minus-$5.7 million after launch, while DraftKings’ deepest hole was almost $5.1 million in the red in February 2021.

Both mobile powerhouses, as well as those looking to fend off ESPN BET to keep market share in that next tier (PointsBet, BetMGM, Caesars, and BetRivers), have all made it clear they would try and retain bettors for online wagering. FanDuel, which set an all-time state record for monthly handle with more than $213 million in November, had an outlay of more than $6.4 million in promotional credits. DraftKings was second at $5.5 million, but it also grabbed the top spot for gross revenue among the 14 mobile books with $10.6 million.

BetMGM, no stranger to pumping out a high level of promotional credits, provided almost $2.3 million worth of credits to its patrons. BetRivers, which absorbed its second consecutive month of losses to the public, had a spend of nearly $766,000 as handle plunged 66% from October to $15.3 million. Its AGR the last two months combined is minus-$2.7 million, which swung its all-time adjusted revenue in Michigan back into the red at a deficit of nearly $375,000.

Fanatics-owned PointsBet, which could be the operator most in the crosshairs of ESPN BET’s launch as a recently launched, deep-pocketed operator, shelled out almost $607,000 in goodies to bettors. PointsBet has finished in the red in adjusted revenue for three consecutive months, but the $31.4 million handle since September is close to 35% of its $89.9 million year-to-date handle.

Caesars had the lightest promo spend among the other key operators at just shy of $343,000. The combined spend of FanDuel, DraftKings, BetMGM, BetRivers, Fanatics, and Caesars totaled $15.9 million — approximately $109,000 less than ESPN BET.

Doing some math

Mobile sports wagering in Michigan was up 6.7% compared to October. While gross revenue was down 24.6% from the previous month, the adjusted revenue plummeted 98.7% to just under $295,000, the lowest since operators finished with combined losses totaling more than $3.9 million in February 2022.

The $4.05 billion worth of wagers made from mobile apps and online platforms is down 0.6% compared to the first 11 months of 2022. Gross revenue, however, is up 2.4% to $359.3 million, as the 8.9% hold is slightly more than one-quarter of a percentage point higher versus last year.

Photo: Dave Reginek/Getty Images