William Hill is now partnering with two tribal casinos located in Michigan.

  • English bookmaker William Hill will provide sports betting for two casinos in northern Michigan.
  • The partnership covers both retail and online sports betting operations.
  • Michigan’s sports betting industry should be lucrative, so this was an important business move.

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. – London-based bookmaker William Hill announced on Wednesday that it would be partnering with two tribal casinos in northern Michigan to become their sole provider of online and retail sports betting.

The Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians (GTB) operate two casinos on the shores of Grand Traverse Bay. William Hill intends to open a full retail sportsbook at Turtle Creek Casino & Hotel on the southern shore, along with a secondary location at Leelanau Sands Casino on the western shore.

William Hill also plans to launch online sports betting and online casino gaming for users throughout Michigan as soon as state regulations permit.

Michigan passed House Bill 4916 to legalize both online and retail sports betting in December 2019. By getting its foot in the door early, William Hill is ensuring that it will have a place in what is likely to become a crowded Michigan sports betting market.

How Big Is The Michigan Sports Betting Market?

With a population of slightly under 10 million people, Michigan is the eighth largest state in the country, but the fourth largest that has legalized sports betting.

It also boasts four major professional sports franchises based in Detroit and two of the biggest brands in college athletics—the University of Michigan and Michigan State University.

In other words, the market for sports betting in Michigan should be lucrative. Barriers to entry are also low, including very manageable licensing fees, license renewal costs, and state tax rates. In short, there should be a large, eager market and high levels of industry competition.

Using the national per capita average for sports betting handle, Michigan could expect to see roughly $1.5 billion in wagers annually. At the national average hold rate of 6.97%, state sportsbooks would collect $104.3 million in revenue.

These projections are remarkably close to the 2019 totals from another midwestern state with similar sports fandom, population size, and betting laws: Pennsylvania.

In 2019, Pennsylvania handled $1.49 billion in sports bets and collected $103.2 million in revenue.

The biggest difference between the two states, however, is the tax rate. Pennsylvania collects 36% of sports betting revenue in taxes ($37.1 million in 2019). With a low tax rate of 8.4%, Michigan would only collect $8.8 million in taxes off its projected sports betting revenue.

One last interesting thing to monitor will be the battle for regional sports betting supremacy with Illinois, which also passed its sports betting bill in December.

While Illinois’ population is larger by several million people, its licensing fees for new sports betting operators are much steeper than Michigan’s, which could severely limit business in the short-term.

By moving fast, Michigan’s sportsbooks could establish themselves as a regional industry leader and siphon away future business from Illinois books.

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