Despite its late entry into the Michigan online casino market, the Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort helped propel Michigan’s 12 tribal casinos to a record $58.4 million in combined revenue in August.
Soaring Eagle, the largest Class III tribal casino in Michigan, also added nearly $1 million in handle in both July and August. The property, based in Mount Pleasant, helped tribal casinos close the gap in the handle to a mere $29.5 million in July.
With the casino’s PlayEagle platform only active since April, there is a very real possibility that the tribal casinos could overtake their three commercial rivals in the state — Greektown Casino-Hotel, MGM Grand Detroit, and MotorCity Casino — in terms of the handle from online sports betting.
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Record Online Casino Revenue for Tribes
Online casino revenue for the tribal casinos grew nearly 5% month-over-month ($55.6 million) and was up nearly 4% from the previous high set in April ($56.2 million).
DraftKings Casino MI, whose tribal casino partner is Bay Mills Resort & Casino, has been far ahead of the other 11 tribal casinos in terms of online casino revenue and handle from online sports betting — it grossed $19.4 million in online casino revenue in August and had an online handle of $52.6 million.
BetRivers Casino MI (Little River Casino Resort) was a distant second in online casino revenue in August, with $9 million in revenue. Second place honors in handle went to Caesars Casino MI (Turtle Creek Casino) with $15.3 million.
By comparison, Michigan’s three commercial casinos grossed $72.6 million in online casino revenue in August and had an online handle of $132.9 million.
BetMGM Casino MI (MGM Grand Detroit) continued its domination of the online casino vertical with $49.3 million in revenue. FanDuel Casino MI (MotorCity Casino) was a distant second with $19.3 million, while Barstool Casino MI (Greektown Casino-Hotel) was even further back at $3.9 million for third place.
Three operators partnered with tribal casinos — BetRivers, Caesars, and Golden Nugget — have each had more online casino revenue than Barstool since April.
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PlayEagle Driving Force Behind Record
PlayEagle launched in April after receiving authorization from the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB). The platform, which is powered by UK-based GAN, appears to have caught on quickly with Michiganders.
After debuting with just $398k in online casino revenue in April, PlayEagle climbed to $1.4 million in May before cracking the $2 million mark in June and surging to nearly $2.8 million. In just five short months, PlayEagle went from being the smallest online casino operator in the state to being the 10th largest — and it just missed 9th place.
PlayEagle also accepted $1 million in online sports wagers in August.
The platform is operated by Soaring Eagle Gaming, the gaming company of the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan. Live dealer games launched two months later through a separate partnership with Evolution Gaming.
The MGCB does not regulate the tribal casinos, but it has the authority to make sure they comply with gaming compacts with the state government in Lansing.
Data from both online casino gaming and sports betting show that without the Saginaw Tribe’s platform, the state’s tribal casinos would be further behind their commercial rivals.
Tribal Casinos Got Close in Handle
Although Michigan’s three commercial casinos have had a higher handle from online sports betting than the 12 tribal casinos for every month the market has been live, that dynamic has come close to flipping — twice.
The first time was in August 2021, when the commercial casinos handled $104.5 million in wagers, while the tribal casinos had $87.8 million in bets — a difference of just $16.6 million. The tribes came close again this past July when the commercial properties had a $117.8 million handle and the tribal casinos had $88.3 million — narrowing the gap to $24.5 million, as mentioned earlier.
To date, the commercial casinos peaked in online handle in January 2022 ($293.6 million). For the tribal casinos, that peak occurred in November 2021 ($216.5 million).
Learn more about real money online casinos in Michigan in our complete guide.