Michigan Gaming Control Board (MCGB) executive director Richard Kalm wasn’t messing around last week when he said, “I’ve been issuing licenses daily,” as his agency confirmed Thursday. It has given provisional licenses to 15 online gambling platforms.

Matthew Stafford
Matthew Stafford and the Detriot Lions are about to see a lot of action as the state of Michigan readies to launch online sports gambling by mid-January. BetMGM signed a multi-year sponsorship deal with the Lions in November. (Image: AP)

Fifteen is a record number of operators for a single state on opening weekend, far exceeding similar-sized state’s options like Indiana (6), Oregon (1), Pennsylvania (11), and Tennessee (4).

Countdown to Go-Live Has Begun

The operator approvals officially kick off a month-long countdown for online sports gambling to go live in Michigan.

MCGB officials said last week that the approvals and other administrative set-up tasks could be complete as soon as mid-January at the earliest and right before Super Bowl Sunday at the latest.

“The platform providers still must meet other regulatory requirements before online gaming, and sports betting can launch in Michigan,” Kalm said in a statement Thursday. “The launch date will depend on how quickly they can fulfill [those] requirements.”

Many of the usual suspects are among the fifteen in the approval process and some new entrants.

The initial operators’ parent companies (with the name of the app in paren) are:

  • American Wagering (William Hill)
  • Betfair Interactive (FanDuel)
  • BetMGM (Roar Digital)
  • Churchill Downs Interactive Gaming (Twin Spires)
  • Crown Michigan Gaming (DraftKings)
  • Rush Street Interactive (BetRivers)
  • Penn Sports Interactive (Barstool Sports)
  • Sports Information Services (Kambi)
  • TSG Interactive US Services (FOX Bet)
  • GAN Nevada
  • Golden Nugget Online Gaming
  • NYX Digital Gaming
  • Parx Interactive
  • PointsBet
  • Wynn Sports

BetMGM, FanDuel, and Penn Sports are the current retail operators at Detroit’s three casinos, closed since Nov. 18 due to the pandemic and will remain so until at least Dec. 20 but likely the rest of the year and on into 2021. The trio generated $25 million in handle in November despite operating at just 15% capacity before the most recent shutdown.

Online Gambling Partnerships with Michigan’s Pro Franchises Already Codified

In anticipation of going live, Michigan’s four professional franchises have already signed deals with online gambling companies. In November, Detroit Pistons announced partnerships with both FanDuel and DraftKings. The deals include in-arena signage, television, and radio advertising.

PointsBet inked an arrangement with the Detroit Tigers in November as well. Their partnership includes a sportsbook and branding opportunities inside Comerica Park.

Last month BetMGM got in the game, signing deals with the Detroit Lions and the Detroit Red Wings. Their multi-year sponsorship with the two franchises includes broadcast, marketing, and signage inside Ford Field and Little Caesars Arena.