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William Hill Launches Retail Sportsbook In Michigan

James Murphy
by in Gaming Industry on
  • William Hill has opened a retail sportsbook in Michigan at the Turtle Creek Casino & Hotel with a satellite location at the Leelanau Sands Casino.
  • Michigan is the 13th state in which William Hill offers sports betting.
  • Earlier in the month, William Hill launched their mobile platform in both Colorado and Illinois.

September has been a busy month for William Hill and that was before news broke on Friday that the company has received competing takeover proposals from Caesars Entertainment and private equity firm Apollo Management International LLP. As the month began, William Hill acquired CG Technology in the process taking over their sportsbook locations at The Venetian, The Palazzo, The Cosmopolitan and Silverton in Las Vegas. Their Nevada footprint grew even more as they began to take over operations at Caesars Entertainment properties following the merger with Eldorado Resorts. Last year, William Hill signed a deal to become the exclusive sports betting provider for Eldorado Resorts.

They’ve also been busy outside of Nevada. On September 5, they launched online and mobile betting in West Virginia. Just four days later, they launched mobile betting in Colorado where they already had a retail presence (at least in kiosk form) in two Black Hawk casinos–the Isle Casino Hotel and Lady Luck Casino. Mid-month they signed content partnerships with CBS Sports and ESPN and launched mobile sports betting in Illinois. Things had quieted down since then before the news of the competing takeover offers broke on Friday.

You can now add another state to William Hill’s US roster. Earlier this week they opened their first retail sportsbook in the state of Michigan at Turtle Creek Casino & Hotel along with a satellite location at Leelanau Sands Casino. Both properties are owned and operated by the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians. Mobile betting is expected to come to Michigan very soon and once it does William Hill will offer their mobile/online platform in the state.

Michigan has the potential to be a very interesting sports betting market. There are 26 casinos in the state–three commercial gaming properties in Detroit along with 23 tribal casinos located throughout Michigan. These properties are operated by 12 individual tribes with two additional tribes in the process of seeking Federal recognition. The regulatory structure is a bit heavy handed complete with pointless and silly limitations. For example, although the Turtle Creek casino is open 24/7 betting is allowed at kiosks only from 7 AM to 3 AM. The hours for sports betting at the Leelanau Sands are 7 AM to 2 AM. So why are patrons not allowed to bet at self serve kiosks for the four or five hours in the early morning? No clue, though I’m sure there’s a ridiculous bureaucratic justification for it somewhere.

The sportsbook is operating under the name ‘Oynx Sportsbook by William Hill’ (no idea why they’re not just called ‘William Hill Sportsbook’ like they are everywhere else) and Dan Shapiro, Vice President of Strategy & Business Development for William Hill, is looking forward to a long run with the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians:

“Today’s grand opening at Turtle Creek Casino officially marks the 13th state where William Hill now offers sports betting. This is just the beginning of our partnership with the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, with plans to launch mobile sports betting and iCasino gaming throughout Michigan as soon as permitted. This is an exciting way to start the NFL season, and we know the Onyx Sports Book by William Hill will be the new game-day location for sports fans in Northern Michigan.”

Michael Schrader. CEO of Grand Traverse Resort & Casinos, had this to say about the partnership with William Hill:

“We are excited to align with William Hill, the leading sports betting company in the US.  They are the best in the business, and that’s always what we strive to give our guests. We have an excellent, trained staff to assist customers with getting their bets down. We want to provide the best destination for sports betting in the state, and with William Hill as our partner, that’s a bet we’re happy to take. When Michigan regulations are permitted, we will be able to offer the best in online gaming and betting as well.  This is truly a win-win for Northern Michigan.”   

Here’s how the press release described the retail sportsbooks at the kiosk setup at the two properties:

The Onyx Sports Book by William Hill at Turtle Creek Casino features two ticket windows and two kiosks, adjacent to the popular table games and slot machines on the casino floor. The sports book also offers 20 high-definition televisions, complimentary games, food and beverages, and an outdoor patio. Staffed hours are Monday through Thursday from noon to midnight, Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m., and Sundays 10 a.m. to midnight.  The kiosks will be available during casino hours at Turtle Creek from 7 a.m. to 3 a.m.

The satellite location at Leelanau Sands Casino includes two kiosks for sports betting available daily from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. Customers at both locations will be serviced according to CDC-recommended guidelines and will find a seamless experience from setting up their accounts to placing bets.

William Hill was finally getting some love from the financial community even before the two takeover proposals sent their stock soaring on Friday. For whatever reason, sector analysts and the finance/investment/business media get distracted by every ‘shiny object’ that gets waved in front of their eyes–usually in the form of a partnership with a sports team, league or media outlet–while ignoring the fact that William Hill processes 1 out of every 4 wagers made in the United States.

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