Hard Rock Will Have to Apply for a Gaming License in Michigan

Despite acquiring the 888 Michigan assets, Hard Rock will not be able to automatically take over its gaming license, and will need to undergo a licensing process should it look to enter the Michigan market in the near future.
Hard Rock Will Have to Apply for a Gaming License in Michigan
April 15, 2024

Just recently, we reported that Hard Rock had obtained 888’s Michigan assets, following the operator’s announcement which stated 888 will be leaving the US markets.

Following that announcement, it seemed clear that Hard Rock is on a path to take over the abandoned 888/Sports Illustrated igaming license, but new information has come to light in the case.

According to representatives of the Michigan Gaming Control Board, Hard Rock will not automatically take over the 888 license, and will instead have to apply for a gaming license and be approved by the Board like any other operator.

Whether this was clear from the get-go or not remains unclear, as Hard Rock continues to reveal very little about potential timelines or other information regarding any product launches in Michigan.

Hard Rock Aiming for the Michigan Market?

Just recently, 888 announced it would be leaving the US and shutting down its various products in the regulated markets across country, while continuing its North American operations with brands like 888poker Ontario.

Hard Rock was quick to jump at the opportunity and offer to acquire all 888 assets in the state of Michigan, which prompted many industry insiders to believe Hard Rock will be looking to launch products in the state in the near future.

Hard Rock already operates in a number of regulated markets in the US, including New Jersey, Arizona, Ohio, Virginia, Florida, Indiana, and Tennessee, and would likely be looking to launch both a sportsbook and an online casino in Michigan.

Yet, Hard Rock has not given any statements about such launches, and its representatives have had very little to say in the regard of potential launches.

What’s even more, the news from MGCB, who made it clear the operator will need to undergo the licensing process in full, means any such launches could be delayed even further.

Yet, it seems all but clear that Hard Rock will be looking to enter the Michigan market now that a place has been open, but the timeline for such a move remains uncertain.

Can Hard Rock Compete?

Should Hard Rock launch its platforms in Michigan, it would become the 15th licensed operator in the state, taking the place of Sports Illustrated.

Of all the operators previously active in MI, Sports Illustrated was by far the smallest with just 0.8% of the overall market share and just $15.8 of revenue generated in 2023.

Hard Rock, on the other hand, has been doing somewhat better over in New Jersey, with the combined license that includes bet365, Unibet, and Hard Rock brands generating $10.3 million in February 2024 alone.

Of course, Hard Rock would be a brand new operator should it enter Michigan, and would have its work cut out, but considering the significant brand power and success across other markets, it is easy to believe it could create some waves.

It is now almost certain that Hard Rock will become the next active igaming platform in the state of Michigan, and we will keep you posted as more information becomes available on any future launches.

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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