Legal Sports Betting Returns To State Of Michigan

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Legal sports betting is back in Michigan.

On Monday, the FireKeepers Casino, a tribal property that reopened June 1, unveiled its new Dacey’s Sportsbook. It’s a retail book, as there is no online/mobile betting available yet in the Wolverine State. The casino belongs to the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi.

The property is located in Battle Creek, about an hour and forty minutes by car west of Detroit.

In March, legal sports wagering kicked off in Detroit, but the COVID-19 pandemic ended up closing the casinos and sports betting was put on ice. Tribal casinos have reopened in recent weeks, while the Detroit casinos are expected to reopen in a limited capacity next month.

FireKeepers is the first tribal casino among the more than 20 in the state to kick off sports betting. It partnered with Scientific Games for the activity. Other tribal casinos haven’t announced dates.

“We’re incredibly excited to launch with FireKeepers Casino,” Scientific Games Digital said in a January presser. “They’re a leader in the Michigan gaming space, and their large core group of satisfied gamers already have a top-notch land-based gaming and entertainment experience. With the passing of this new [sports betting]bill, Scientific Games is excited and honored to help FireKeepers Casino translate and expand the sports and iGaming player experiences across all of Michigan.”

There are currently four kiosks for wagering, plus a desk for betting through a staff member.

Appetite for retail wagering?

Michigan is expected to kick off legal online/mobile sports wagering in either late 2020 or early 2021, with the latter being the more likely timeline because regulations are still being drafted.

The big three sports leagues — NBA, MLB, and NFL — are still dealing with their respective challenges for having contests in 2020, but other sports have returned, such as UFC and NASCAR.

Local reports didn’t show any lines forming at the newly opened tribal sportsbook, which reportedly cut the ribbon at 10:30 a.m. The casino plans to eventually have 14 kiosks.

While it’s a big symbolic development for the state and FireKeepers Casino, it’s unclear how popular the book will be right now amid the pandemic and a meager sports wagering menu. For what it’s worth, a Twitter poll from a local reporter found more than 40% of respondents saying they would not be heading to the sportsbook. The poll had more than 100 votes.

Before the pandemic, some states with online/mobile betting saw close to 90% of the handle come via the internet.

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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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