Churchill Downs to Launch BetAmerica Brand in Michigan With Tribal Partner

  • Churchill Downs has paired with the Hannahville Indian Community and its Island Resort Casino
  • It will open a BetAmerica retail sportsbook, along with an online casino and sportsbook
  • Michigan online gambling will go live by late 2020 or early 2021
Man excited about something on his phone
BetAmerica has partnered with the Hannahville Indian Community to launch an online casino and retail and online sports betting in Michigan. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

New market entrant

Churchill Downs Incorporated (CDI) is planning to launch its BetAmerica brand in Michigan after entering into a partnership agreement with the Hannahville Indian Community. 

CDI will open a retail sportsbook at the tribe’s Island Resort & Casino in the city of Harris and will also launch an online casino and sportsbook for people across the entire state.

Churchill Downs chief operating officer Bill Mudd spoke about the deal: “Guests of Island Resort and Casino as well as online players in Michigan will be able to access sports betting, the best in online casino games and unique promotions through BetAmerica.”

optimistic that they will attract more people to the property

The tribe is looking forward to having a wider range of options for gamblers visiting the casino and is optimistic that they will attract more people to the property. 

Sports betting in Michigan

CDI is the latest operator to sign a deal in Michigan. Most recently, Golden Nugget inked a partnership with the Ojibwa Casino at the start of July. The casino, operated by the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, will see Golden Nugget launch an online sportsbook and casino provided it gets regulatory approval. In June, Rush Street Interactive (RSI) and DraftKings both announced similar deals with state tribes.

Online gambling has not yet launched in Michigan. On December 20, 2019, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed into law three bills that legalized online gambling, sports betting, and daily fantasy sports competitions. The original plan was to have online gambling up and running in the early 2021, but state lawmakers are contemplating speeding up the timeline because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) began accepting online gambling license applications at the start of July. At the time of the announcement, MGCB executive director Richard S. Kalm said: “We expect to launch internet gaming and online sports betting by late 2020 or early 2021.”

Detroit casinos remain closed because of the coronavirus pandemic and will only reopen on August 5 at 15% capacity. Tribal casinos did not have to follow orders from the state government; many opened their doors once more in May.

CDI hurting this year

Churchill Downs recently released its second quarter financial results. For the first half of 2020, the company’s revenue was $438m, down $162.9m from last year, and it suffered a net loss of $142.2m. The main reason for the loss was the forced rescheduling of the Kentucky Derby from May to September as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The BetAmerica brand already has a sports betting presence in Mississippi, Indiana, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey and brick-and-mortar casino operations in eight different states. CDI also owns TwinSpires, the largest online horse betting brand in the US market.