Hard Rock Looks to MI Online Casino Market Following Purchase of 888’s Consumer US Business

New igaming brands will be coming to the state of Michigan as Hard Rock moves to secure the vacant 888 gaming license left behind by the termination of the SI Casino brand.
Hard Rock Looks to MI Online Casino Market Following Purchase of 888's Consumer US Business
April 01, 2024

Earlier this month, 888 announced that it was considering selling its US business in full or in part and potentially exiting the US markets to focus on its primary markets in Europe and beyond.

This announcement has come to fruition. 888 has sold its customer-facing business to Hard Rock Digital. The controlled exit of 888 from the market will be completed over 2024, with Hard Rock likely to take over the vacant licenses in Q4 of the year.

And while the exit of the UK igaming giant from the Michigan gambling market is now definitive, further steps will need to be approved by the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB), the regulator that must approve any new brands being started in the future.

888 Breaks Ties with Sports Illustrated

The UK-based company announced it was contemplating its future in the US markets and potential strategic sales of its US-facing businesses in early March this year.

On March 6, the company announced they were ending their partnership with Sports Illustrated, which meant the SI Casino brand, which operated in Michigan, was going to be shutting down.

As soon as it became clear that the SI Casino brand was no longer going to operate, a single igaming license was up for grabs, and Hard Rock was at the top of the list of companies looking to snatch the Michigan online casino license up to help fuel their expansion into the igaming arena.

Now, with the acquisition of 888’s customer-facing assets agreed, the launching of Hard Rock online casino and sports betting brand in Michigan seems only a matter of time and formality.

Hard Rock Moves for Vacant Michigan License

Hard Rock has been making moves into the igaming space across the country, and rumors had it that they would be entering the Michigan market in one of two ways.

In early March, when it became clear that 888 would be leaving the market, industry insiders speculated that Hard Rock would move for the license and enter the market by launching a new brand in the space.

On the other hand, Bloomberg reported that Hard Rock may be interested in acquiring Rush Street Interactive (RSI), the company behind brands like BetRivers Casino and Run It Once Poker, just weeks later.

Yet, in the end, Hard Rock opted for the former and moved for the vacant license ahead of operators like DraftKings, who were reportedly also interested in the license left behind by 888 and Sports Illustrated.

Now, with the license all but granted to Hard Rock, and the 888 assets being transferred to the US gaming giant, the course is set for a new online casino launch likely to come in early 2025.

As for 888, the company will be focusing on its international markets, which were always its primary target, while any future US business dealings seem unlikely in the foreseeable future.

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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