Which iGaming Operator will Replace Twinspires in Michigan?
TwinSpires is Ending Sportsbook and iGaming activities
On February 24th, Bill Carstanjen, CEO of Churchill Downs Inc. said on an earnings call that Twinspires will be leaving the online sports betting and iGaming industry. This isn’t an immediate move as the phase out of the space will take place over the next six months. While this does limit online casino and sport betting options for the gamblers in the state of Michigan, it does present a fantastic opportunity for a new operator to take a step forward as a major player in the Michigan online gambling industry.
While the state of Michigan has fourteen online casino and sportsbook operators, Twinspires, formerly known as BetAmerica, is the first of the bunch to bow out from the increasingly crowded operation. Twinspires main niche in the industry that tried to build off of was their horse racing expertise on their online app. It did not prosper as well as they had projected with grossing just over $1.4 million with a little over a year being active in the state of Michigan. While TwinSpires did not see success in the state, that doesn’t mean that the market is not a profitable one, as the online casino and sports industry saw in the past year. Where TwinSpires departure from Michigan gets interesting is with their partner, Island Resort & Casino. Island Resort & Casino is a tribal property that partnered with Churchill Downs Inc., owner of Twinspires, to run the online sports and casino betting in Michigan. While the license agreement between TwinSpires and Island Resort & Casino are still up in the air, the Michigan Gaming Control Board has stated that platform licenses can change ownership or be acquired and operators can sign contracts with other platforms. This means that while the supplier and operator licenses in Michigan are granted by the state for five years, Island Resort & Casino can now look into new opportunities. One of which could be branding their own online casino and sports betting application. There are currently two (FireKeepers Casino & Four Winds Casino) tribal casinos that operate their own online casino and sportsbook and the Hannahville Indian Community (owner’s of the Island Resort & Casino) may become the third. While Island Resort & Casino sort their licensing out, there may be an opportunity for a newcomer to take over a significant portion of the Michigan online sports and casino industry. Below are some operators that may be fighting for that spot.
Operating States: Arizona, Indiana, Iowa, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Virginia While a fairly new operator in the United States, Unibet has had strong expansion across the states, being legal in 6 states. As one of the oldest operators in the online casino and sportsbook industry (established in 1997), Unibet is available as an online sportsbook in over 100 countries. If their expansion is that vast worldwide, the expansion in the states may be quick, and should include Michigan.
Current Operating States: Arizona, Colorado, Indiana, Iowa, and Virginia Michigan, specifically the Detroit area is already familiar with the name Bally. Bally Sports Detroit provides coverage of local sport teams with a primary focus on the Metro Detroit area. Bally Bet joined the U.S. market with Colorado in May 2021 and looks to continue its aggressive expansion with additional states, and perhaps, Michigan.
Current Operating States: New Jersey While currently only New Jersey residents can take advantage of bet365, the European market has been enjoying the online casino and sportsbook offerings from bet365 since 2000. One of the biggest gambling operators in Europe, they may be reaching across the states to expand to Michigan.
Current Operating States: Arizona and Iowa One of the more unique operators on the list, Fubo Sportsbook started as a TV service that pivoted into the sportsbook industry. What makes Fubo interesting is bettors can take the content that’s streaming on the service and make live bets based on the data on the screen. With a recent partnership with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Fubo could make a move into Michigan from the neighboring state of Ohio.
Current Operating States: Colorado Sports Illustrated, a well known name in the sports industry as a magazine provider, joined the sports betting industry in 2021 with a partnership with 888sport, a European sportsbook brand. While currently only available in Colorado, 888sport also has eligibility in the state of New Jersey, which could signal SI Sportsbook expansion.