MLB Considers Rule Change That Would Benefit Michigan Casino Owner

Major League Baseball is considering allowing the owners of a Detroit casino to take bets on the Detroit Tigers, which they also own.

A casino owner in Detroit needs a clear path forward for sports betting under MLB’s rules.

According to the Associated Press, the league is considering a rule change that would allow the Ilitch family in Detroit, which owns the MotorCity Casino and the Detroit Tigers, to offer legal sports betting on the team in the state of Michigan despite the ownership.

“The general rule will remain that if the club has an interest in a sportsbook, it can’t take bets on that club,” MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred reportedly said last week.

“The rule does contemplate that there could be an exception provided that there are certain safeguards built in. The safeguards would essentially ensure that there is no controlled input whatever from the club to the betting operator, has to be a completely independent betting operator.”

Sportsbook in the pipeline

MotorCity is one of three commercial casinos in Detroit that could see legal sports wagering begin this spring in a retail-only capacity.

If the proposed MLB rule change goes into effect, gamblers could bet on the Ilitch-owned Tigers at the Ilitch-owned casino this upcoming season.

The casino is about a mile away from Comerica Park.

MotorCity Casino doesn’t yet have an official sports betting partner for retail or online/mobile betting. The casino is allowed a single skin for internet sports betting. The Michigan Legislature and Gov. Gretch Whitmer legalized sports betting late last year.

The Michigan Gaming Control Board recently said that it will take about a year to craft regulations for online gambling, including online casino platforms. Retail sports wagering will likely be the only option for those in Michigan for the remainder of 2020.


The final version of the Michigan sports betting law didn’t include any restrictions of the Illitch family’s involvement with sports betting, despite ownership of the Tigers and the NHL’s Red Wings. The family also operates the sports venues where the teams play.

The sports betting law does give the leagues an “official league data” mandate under “commercially reasonable” terms. The MGCB will have to define what that means.

It’s unclear how that regulation will be written around the Illitch ownership situation.


Related Posts