Michigan Tribal Casino Partners With Rush Street Interactive For Online Operations

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Another sports betting company is eyeing the Michigan market.

Rush Street Interactive on Monday announced a partnership with the Little River Casino Resort to be the service provider for its upcoming retail sportsbook and also as an online/mobile betting operator. The property is from the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians.

The casino plans to open up its retail sportsbook in the fall. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

On Monday, the FireKeepers Casino became the first tribal casino in the state to offer sports betting. FireKeepers’ opening followed retail sports betting emerging in Detroit in March, before the casino industry was shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tribal casinos in the state have reopened, while the Detroit casinos remain closed until sometime next month.

Little River Casino evaluated other markets

Rush Street Interactive, owner of the BetRivers brand that will be utilized in Michigan, is one of the top sportsbook operators in the country. It’s not on the same level as a FanDuel or DraftKings, but it’s an early mover in the nascent U.S. sports betting industry.

“The successful track record of Rush Street Interactive as a provider of in-casino sportsbooks in PennsylvaniaNew York, and Illinois, was very significant to us when we chose them as our partner,” Andrew Gentile, general manager of the Little River Casino Resort, said in a statement. “Rush Street’s ability to provide a road map of how they’ve enabled other land-based casinos to operate market-leading sportsbooks kept us from having to reinvent the wheel.”

RSI touted how close its Illinois headquarters are to the casino, saying the tribal casino is “only a lakeshore away.” 

RSI’s BetRivers online/mobile book is also a top player in neighboring Indiana.

Other sports betting partnerships

RSI and the Little River Casino arrangement isn’t the first of its kind in the state. In addition to that deal, as well as the FireKeepers deal with Scientific Games, several other tribes have partners.

  • Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians: William Hill
  • Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians Gaming Authority: FOX Bet
  • Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians: PointsBet
  • Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians: DraftKings

Nearly a year ago, RSI had reached a deal for free-play social casino gaming, including sports betting, with DraftKings’ partner. Each casino operator in the state is allowed just one sports betting skin. Michigan also legalized online casino gambling in late 2019, and casinos can have two skins for that — one for iCasino and one for poker.

Timeline for launch

Michigan gambling regulators are unlikely to finish the process of getting online/mobile sportsbooks approved until late this year or in early 2021.

State officials are looking for ways to bring the activity to Michigan cyberspace as quickly as possible, but it’s a complex process that might not be able to be expedited.

Once it gets going, Michigan is expected to be one of the most competitive and largest betting markets in the nation.

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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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