Online sportsbook apps FOX Bet and PointsBet appear to be on the way to becoming a reality for Michigan bettors after company representatives announced separate tribal agreements that will gain them entry in the state.
According to a news release distributed Monday by The Stars Group, who partnered with FOX Sports last year to distribute the FOX Bet app, the company will work with the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians Gaming Authority to operate and brand real-money online sports betting, poker and casino games in Michigan.
"We are excited to announce this agreement with the Odawa tribe, which further strengthens our market access as we work to continue to build our FOX Bet business into one of the leaders in the emerging U.S. online betting and gaming market," Fox Bet CEO Robin Chhabra said in the release.
Meanwhile, PointsBet Holdings subsidiary PointsBet Michigan entered into a similar agreement with Lac Vieux Desert Public Enterprise and Finance Commission, an arm of the Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians.
According to the news release, the deal gives PointsBet access to the Michigan market, where PointsBet intends to offer its own brand of online sports wagering in the state when the emerging market becomes operational.
“PointsBet is pleased to have reached agreement for both online sportsbook and online casino operations with such a forward-thinking tribe, and we look forward to many years of great success working together in Michigan,” PointsBet Group CEO Sam Swanell said in the release.
FOX Bet and PointsBet are subject to license availability under the new state law signed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in December, as well as all the necessary regulatory approvals.
Still, it appears Michigan bettors are closer to backing their favorite teams via two of the most forward-thinking sports betting apps available in the growing and increasingly competitive U.S. gambling market.
FOX Bet offers traditional sports content on top of giving users the chance to use that information to place bets within the app.
On the other hand, PointsBet has seen its own growth in the U.S. market over the last year thanks to its technology as well as a significant amount of capital investment and marketing.
Once launched, both apps will be welcome additions to the Michigan sports betting scene.
While online sports betting, casino gaming and poker are all now legal in Michigan, that doesn’t mean bettors can place bets via FOX Bet or any other sports betting app.
The next steps for Michigan in moving its extensive legal gambling package toward full-scale operational reality include the Michigan Gaming Control Board establishing rules and regulatory procedures. The state also needs to approve license holders and launch dates.
State lawmakers hope the first bets under the new law will happen in March, but it’s important to note that the average time it has taken other states to go through the same process has been closer to six months.
Still, Michigan bettors are closer to placing online bets, and it appears most stakeholders, such as those representing FOX Bet, PointsBet and the tribes, are engaged in ramping up their efforts to meet that timeline.
Michigan’s gambling expansion being signed into law by the end of 2019 was one of the biggest success stories of the year.
Faced with the unenviable task of satisfying competing, interested parties, Michigan lawmakers took the approach of assigning online “skins” to operators in a non-preferential manner that essentially gave each of the 12 indigenous tribes that operate the state’s 22 tribal casinos and three Detroit casinos, the licenses they wanted.
The move paid off in a big way, and now two of the tribes appear to be on their way to helping FOX Bet and PointsBet have a serious chance at becoming the first sports betting apps to launch in the state.