WynnBET Future Unclear After Operations Placed “Under Review”

In what is turning out to be a transformative year for mobile sports betting in MI, the operator announced last week that it would end operations in eight other states and will also reevaluate NY.
WynnBET MI Future Unclear After Operations Placed "Under Review"
By
August 15, 2023

Sports betting is a tough business — we’ve got a very long-term shareholder-friendly view on it. Wynn Resorts said it has placed its Michigan operations “under review” but has so far not given any indication over whether it plans to stop offering online casino gaming and sports betting altogether in the Wolverine State.

Operations in New York are also under review, Wynn announced Friday. The company immediately shut down operations in eight states — Arizona, Colorado, Indiana, Louisiana, New Jersey, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia — but retained them in Massachusetts and Nevada, where it owns and operates brick-and-mortar casinos.

New Jersey and West Virginia will both lose their WynnBET online casinos and sportsbooks.

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“While we believe in the long-term prospects of igaming, the dearth of igaming legislation and the presence of numerous other investment opportunities available to us around the globe have led us to the decision to curtail our capital investment in WynnBET to focus primarily on those states where we maintain a physical presence,” Wynn Resorts CFO Julie Cameron-Doe said in a statement.

Cameron-Doe’s quip that Wynn has “other investment opportunities” suggests that the company has reconsidered plans to launch new online casino and sportsbook products in the US. Both debuted in West Virginia in late June.

Wynn owns and operates Wynn Las Vegas, Encore Las Vegas, and Encore Boston Harbor — properties it opened in Nevada in 2005 and 2008 and in Massachusetts in 2019, respectively. Retaining online sportsbooks in both states gives Wynn the option to roll out its online casino product again in the future — if Massachusetts and Nevada expand igaming to include online casino gaming.

The operator doesn’t have land-based casino properties in either Michigan or New York, so it’s likely interested in keeping online sportsbooks in both states operational because they are among the largest markets for igaming in the US.

“Sports betting is a tough business — we’ve got a very long-term shareholder-friendly view on it,” Cameron-Doe said during an earnings call last Wednesday to discuss Q2 2023. The call was held two days before Wynn announced the shutdowns.

WynnBET had market access in a partnership with the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, which owns and operates Kewadin Casinos. It launched online casino gaming and sports betting at the market’s opening in January 2021.

It has never been among the top three operators in terms of online casino revenue — instead, WynnBET was one of five operators in the middle of the pack, joining the likes of Barstool, BetRivers Casino MI, Golden Nugget Casino MI, and Caesars Casino MI. Its best month in the vertical was April, with $5.7 million.

WynnBET had $4.8 million in revenue from its Michigan online casino in June, the most recent month with figures available from the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB). It held about 3% of the market.

In Michigan sports betting, WynnBET Sportsbook had $134k in gross receipts and $1.4 million in handle in June. That equated to about 0.7% of gross receipts and 0.6% of handle.

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Must be 21 or over and in Michigan to play. If you or someone you know has a gambling problem and wants help, call the MDHHS Gambling Disorder Help-line at 1-800-270-7117 or visit the MDHHS website.

Michigan Market Evolving in 2023

The news that Wynn has put its Michigan operations under review is the latest of several developments to hit the Michigan sports betting market as of late.

Three days before the Wynn announcement, Penn Entertainment and ESPN went public with the news that they had agreed to a ten-year, $1.5 billion strategic alliance. The partnership calls for Penn to rebrand Barstool Sportsbook as ESPN Bet and for Hollywood Casino to replace Barstool Casino in four states, including Michigan.

Penn and ESPN are forming a partnership just days after Flutter Entertainment and Fox Corporation announced that they were, in essence, formally dissolving theirs — Flutter and Fox teamed up in May 2019 to launch FOX Bet Sportsbook, but the relationship between the two quickly soured over a dispute into how much Fox should have to pay for a stake in FanDuel.

Flutter and Fox announced on July 31 that FOX Bet had stopped accepting wagers and will shut down on August 31. Operations at PokerStars MI and PokerStars Casino MI are unaffected.

Preceding that development by about a month, shareholders in Australia-based PointsBet Holdings Limited approved a $225 million offer from Fanatics for its US assets, including its market access in Michigan through Northern Waters Casino Resort, a tribal casino owned and operated by the Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians.

TwinSpires ended its online casino and sports betting operations in Michigan in September 2022. SI Casino and SI Sportsbook took TwinSpires’ place; the former launched in February.

Operator Casino Partner Type
BetFanatics(1) Northern Waters Casino Resort Tribal
BetMGM MGM Grand Detroit Commercial
BetRivers Little River Casino Resort Tribal
DraftKings Bay Mills Resort & Casino Tribal
ESPN Bet,
Hollywood(2)
Hollywood Casino at Greektown Commercial
FanDuel MotorCity Casino Commercial
GAN Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort Tribal
Golden Nugget Ojibwa Casino Tribal
NYX Digital FireKeepers Casino Tribal
Pala Four Winds Casinos Tribal
Parx Gun Lake Casino Tribal
PokerStars(3) Odawa Casinos Tribal
SI Sportsbook(4) Island Resort & Casino Tribal
Caesars,
WSOP(5)
Turtle Creek Casino Tribal
WynnBET(6) Kewadin Casinos Tribal

Notes:
(1) = Fanatics is in the process of acquiring the US assets of Australia-based PointsBet.
(2) = ESPN Bet, a rebrand of Barstool, for sports betting; Hollywood for online casino.
(3) = PokerStars for online casino and poker; A sports betting license will be available once FOX Bet ceases operations on August 31.
(4) = SI replaced TwinSpires in September 2022.
(5) = Caesars for online casino and sports betting, WSOP for online poker.
(6) = Operations “under review.”

If you or someone you know has a gambling problem and wants help, call the Virginia Council on Problem Gambling (VACPG) helpline at 1-888-532-3500

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