Gun Lake Casino: In-person sports betting signals online success

WAYLAND TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Michigan is joining several other states by launching online gaming and sports betting Friday, a move that’s expected to generate millions in tax revenue.

While Gun Lake Casino has not yet been approved to facilitate online gaming and sports betting, it is working to make it happen. The state gaming board previously told News 8 there’s really no long-term disadvantage to a later launch date.

#The7on8 was able to get a preview of what the new operation at Gun Lake will look like.

Even though the Wayland-area casino won’t launch its online platform Friday, a sports betting atmosphere already greets guests who bet with their in-person sportsbook.

“We opened our traditional brick-and-mortar sportsbook back in October. That’s been met with a ton of success,” Vice President and General Manager at Gun Lake Casino Jose Flores told News 8. “Our guests really enjoy sports betting and now that the Michigan Gaming Control Board is coming online with not only the laws that have been passed, but the administrative rules and procedures that will govern online casino and online sports, we’re working really hard, working as fast as we can and as diligently as we can to make sure we’ve dotted all of our i’s, crossed all our t’s.”

Gun Lake will be working with Parx Casino in Pennsylvania for its online platform. Flores believes that though the new option will mean more people will gamble online, it’s ultimately a marketing opportunity. 

“Most of our customers travel from about a 90-mile radius to come to our brick-and-mortar facility and with online casino and online sports, we’re able to market across the entire state,” he explained. “Maybe the next time they’re up looking at leaves or they’re, you know, in Holland, they say, ‘You know what? I’ve played with Gun Lake online before and I’d like to check out their casino product.’ And they might come by and give us a try.”

Flores couldn’t share projections of what revenue may look like for the casino based on the in-person sportsbook’s popularity, but comparisons can be made by examining how other states have fared with legalized sports betting.

According to the American Gaming Association, Americans wagered more than $13 billion on sports in commercial casinos in 2019. The same year, sports betting revenue hit nearly $909 million, which was more than double the previous year. 
On the state level, the AGA’s 2019 figures for sports betting revenue look like this:

  • Indiana: $41.6 million (September launch)
  • Iowa: $19.3 million (August launch)
  • New Jersey: $299.3 million
  • Pennsylvania: $111.8 million
  • West Virginia: $19.6 million

The figures don’t account for online casino games, which is an aspect of several platforms going live Friday afternoon in Michigan.

Experts forecast online gambling will generate more than $90 million in revenue in Michigan in its first year.

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