The Island Resort and Casino in Harris, Michigan, has an official launch date for its sportsbook, which would be the first in the Upper Peninsula.
The Island Resort and Casino announced its BetAmerica Sportsbook will debut on Sept. 10, coinciding with the NFL’s regular-season opener between the Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans.
“That was the big push,” Tony Mancilla, Island Resort and Casino general manager, said about being able to open in time for the NFL season. “We were going to try to move in before the start of March Madness, but then COVID happened and it was a natural delay. But to open for the start of the NFL was really important.”
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The sportsbook will be located in the T.McC’s Sports Bar, which is already outfitted with multiple TVs and monitors, making it a natural transition for the sportsbook. As the first sportsbook in the UP, the Island is aiming to give people from the region, including Wisconsin, the opportunity to wager on sporting events.
“The Green Bay market is a big sports market and we will be the closest to them,” Mancilla said. “I think it will have a big effect with traffic and people who want to bet on the NFL. It’s exciting in that sense, and for the UP with having the largest market here. A sportsbook is something people have been asking for.”
The casino is about 110 miles from Green Bay.
A grand opening celebration for the sportsbook is scheduled for Sept. 25, where prize giveaways will take place.
Out of the numerous inquiries Mancilla received about potential sportsbook partnerships, Churchill Downs Inc. stuck out for its experience and for being located in the U.S., he said. BetAmerica sportsbooks are also active in Indiana, Mississippi, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
“We were approached by several companies, the majority of them from Europe because they’ve been doing online sports betting for 20 years,” Mancilla said. “We liked BetAmerica because they’re in Louisville and Churchill Downs owns them. They’re a very reputable company with experience, and they wanted to be in the Michigan market, and we really liked them. They were the biggest American firm that we could partner with.”
In addition to the sportsbook, the BetAmerica agreement with the Island Resort and Casino includes an online sportsbook and online gaming throughout Michigan.
BetAmerica’s partnership with the Island Resort and Casino continues its expansion into other states. In January, the company launched the sixth online casino in Pennsylvania.
Being able to offer more betting platforms was a drawing point for Mancilla and the Island Resort and Casino to add a sportsbook. Now, visitors can wager on their favorite teams.
“A lot of folks naturally get into sports pools in their office or for the Super Bowl, and this is just a more sophisticated way to do it,” he said. “If you have that natural want to be involved or like, to make games more interesting, sportsbooks are a fun thing to get into. It’s really dictated by the outcome of games and not a machine or anything like that.”
The Island Resort and Casino is operated by the Hannahville Indian Tribe. Its partnership with Churchill Downs Inc. was announced on July 31.
“We are incredibly excited about our new partnership with BetAmerica,” Ken Meshigaud, Hannahvilel Indian Community Tribal Person for the Island Resort and Casino, said in a news release. “The BetAmerica sportsbook will expand upon our already compelling number of entertainment options, and provides another great reason for people to come visit us up here on Michigan’s beautiful Upper Peninsula.”
American Gaming Association research, released in July, showed that Michigan’s 27 casinos — three in Detroit and the 24 tribal casinos — are worth $6 billion annually in economic impact to the state.