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William Hill seals Michigan market access with tribal partner


William Hill is to expand its reach into Michigan after it agreed a new long-term partnership with the federally recognized tribal gaming operator, the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians (GTB).

Under the deal, William Hill will serve as the exclusive provider of online sports betting and casino gaming throughout Michigan for GTB. The tribe operates the Leelanau Sands Casino & Lodge, Turtle Creek Casino & Hotel, and Grand Traverse Resort and Spa in the state.

The agreement also sets out plans to open a new retail William Hill sportsbook at the Turtle Creek Casino & Hotel this year. Subject to regulatory approval, the facility will be located in the Onyx Sports Bar, with a satellite location at Leelanau Sands Casino.

William Hill said it will launch both its online casino gaming and sports betting services when permitted under Michigan regulations.

In December 2019, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer ratified bills to legalize sports betting and online gaming in the state, paving the way for a 2020 roll-out.

Whitmer signed House Bill 4311, which created the Lawful Internet Gaming Act, allowing the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) to issue licenses for online and mobile casino games.

William Hill must secure the relevant betting and gaming licenses before launching in the state with GTB.

“Michigan will be a key state in William Hill’s US expansion due to its large population and deep rooted-sports culture with so many popular college and pro sports teams,” William Hill US chief executive Joe Asher said.

Michael Schrader, chief executive of the Grand Traverse Resort & Casinos, added: “William Hill’s expertise in sports betting operations and marketing and strategic media partnerships will ensure that we are able to attract customers from throughout the State of Michigan to the online products while offering another great amenity to attract guests to our casinos.”

Last month, Australian sports betting operator PointsBet and PokerStars and Fox Bet operator The Stars Group also signed market access agreements with a Native American tribe for a path into Michigan’s regulated market.

The Stars Group agreed a deal with the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, granting it first skin market access to operate real-money betting, poker and casino in the state. In return, the tribe will receive a share of the revenue generated from the igaming offerings.

PointsBet signed a 20-year deal with the Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, under which it will launch mobile and desktop sports betting offerings in the state, as well as a branded tribal product.