Many Michigan sportsbooks marked the start of football season as a hopeful launch date. Some succeeded, like the Island Resort and Casino in Harris, which is opening tonight. But others, including Turtle Creek Casino in Traverse City, won’t have sports betting available in time for tonight’s NFL season opener between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Houston Texans.
According to the Traverse City Record Eagle, Turtle Creek said it hoped to be open in time for the NFL season. That includes the initial announcement from William Hill in February to billboards off M-72 and social media posts dating to Aug. 17 — all pointed to its sportsbook at the Onyx Sports Bar and Grill being ready in time for the start of the football season.
“We are finalizing all internal approvals at this time and we hope to open sports betting soon at Turtle Creek and Leelanau Sands casinos,” Michael Schrader, CEO of Grand Traverse Resort and Casinos, said to the Record-Eagle. “We appreciate everyone’s patience during this process.”
Turtle Creek became Michigan’s 23rd casino to gain a retail sports betting license after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed a package of gambling expansion bills into state law in December 2019. The William Hill branding has been incorporated into the Onyx Sports Bar and Grill the casino already had in place.
The Onyx Sports Bar features 20 HDTVS, two betting windows and pool tables. It functions in a similar way as William Hill’s other books, where a bettor checks off the rotation number it wants to be on a sheet of paper and presents it to the writer inside of the cage.
With tonight’s opening of its sportsbook, the Island Resort and Casino in Harris becomes the first retail sportsbook to debut in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and the ninth statewide.
Being able to open its BetAmerica Sportsbook on the same day as the beginning of the 2020 NFL season was a major goal for the Island Resort and Casino.
“That was the big push,” Tony Mancilla, Island Resort and Casino general manager, said about being able to open in time for the NFL season. “We were going to try to move in before the start of March Madness, but then COVID happened and it was a natural delay. But to open for the start of the NFL was really important.”
Bettors can place bets at the Island Resort and Casino in the T.McC’s Sports Bar. By becoming the first sportsbook open in the UP, Mancilla is hopeful the Island will draw people from the region, especially Wisconsin, to wager on sporting events.
“The Green Bay market is a big sports market and we will be the closest to them,” Mancilla said. “I think it will have a big effect with traffic and people who want to bet on the NFL. It’s exciting in that sense, and for the U.P. with having the largest market here. A sportsbook is something people have been asking for.”
Besides the BetAmerica sportsbook at the Island, Michigan sports bettors can place NFL bets at six other MI casinos:
Michigan online sports betting, casinos and poker could also be arriving by November.
There are numerous casinos who have partnered with sportsbooks, but official opening dates have yet to be revealed: