Online gambling customers in the state have a chance to try the new ESPN BET Michigan Sportsbook starting today. And what will be interesting is what efforts the online gaming operator makes to increase its market share in the Wolverine State.
The presence of ESPN BET is the product of a merger between PENN Entertainment, a national gaming company including a casino in Detroit, and sports media giant ESPN. Previously, PENN’s online sports betting operations were branded as Barstool Sportsbook. The conversion of PENN’s sports betting platforms to ESPN BET is happening in Michigan and 16 other states.
PENN Entertainment’s casino in Detroit is Hollywood Casino at Greektown, which currently is among the three casinos facing a strike by a broad range of casino workers.
This is happening in a state that has Michigan online casinos as well as legal, regulated sports betting; Michigan is one of only a handful of states offering both. Online customers of either type of mobile gambling can sample what the conversion from what PENN Entertainment that had been offered to what will be new in the overall conversion. However, for sports bettors, the migration to ESPN BET will probably be the facet of most immediate interest.
Jockeying For Michigan iGaming Customers
Hollywood Casino at Greektown has trailed its two commercial casino competitors in Detroit, MGM Grand Detroit and MotorCity Casino, for both iCasino business and for online sports betting action among those using Michigan sportsbook apps.
For instance, From January through September 2023, MGM Grand had about $447 million in online gaming (or iCasino) gross receipts, MotorCity had $281.5 million in online casino gross receipts, and Hollywood-Greektown had about $30.9 million in iCasino gross receipts. On the internet sports gambling side, from January through September, MotorCity led with adjusted gross receipts (AGR) of about $91 million, MGM Grand had AGR of $23.7 million, and Greektown had AGR of about $5 million.
Aim Of ESPN BET Agreement
Clearly, in partnering with ESPN, PENN is hoping to capitalize on the huge reach of the Disney-owned sports media behemoth to attract more customers who engage in Michigan sports betting through its many broadcasts and digital outlets. As an example, ESPN’s sports gambling TV show, which was known as “The Daily Wager,” will now be “ESPN BET Live” after a rebrand. That is just one instance where audiences will be introduced to ESPN’s now more intimate association with gambling.
PENN Entertainment appears to be looking to capitalize on the “Hollywood” brand it uses for its casinos throughout the country, including the one in Detroit, in its iCasino business in Michigan.
Should Be Seamless Transition
It is expected that sports wagering customers who were betting on PENN Entertainment’s previous sports gambling platforms – perhaps arriving by using real money Michigan sportsbook promos – will find the migration to ESPN BET Michigan Sportsbook relatively seamless.
Coincidentally, as PENN Entertainment goes through this digital transformation, its bricks-and-mortar casino in Detroit is experiencing a strike by workers. The union also is in the midst of a labor stoppage at MGM Grand and MotorCity. The unions, who are demanding wage improvements and health care protections, are asking the gambling public to honor the physical picket lines. But not only that, the striking workers are asking customers to boycott the online gaming platforms associated with those casinos, including ESPN BET, Hollywood iCasino, FanDuel and BetMGM.