BetMGM is among many legal online casino operators who seem to prefer launching products in Michigan and New Jersey. Also, it’s no longer uncommon for operators and suppliers to enter the US through the Midwestern state.
Between March 8 and Sept. 5, BetMGM made four major online casino product launch announcements. While half happened in the traditional iGaming launching pad of New Jersey, one US debut of a casino games developer occurred in Michigan.
First, BetMGM Casino players in New Jersey learned they could play Buffalo slots.
As Katie Kohler, BetMGM’s iGaming communications manager, told Bonus yesterday in an email:
I am reaching out today with huge online casino news! Today, BetMGM announced Buffalo, a land-based casino favorite, is now available at its online casino. BetMGM is the world’s first online casino to offer the Buffalo slot.
The slot developer is Anaxi, the new online division of Australia-based Aristocrat Leisure.
Moving from a world first to a US first, BetMGM announced on Aug. 10 that BetMGM Casino in Michigan would experience the American debut of Malta-based game developer NetGaming‘s slot titles.
On Aug. 10, NetGaming said Michiganders could immediately gamble with these games on BetMGM Casino:
- 3 Wild Jokers
- Skulls Gone Wild
- Shelby Online Video Slot: “The Shelby Online Video Slot is a collaboration with NetGaming and the legendary car manufacturer [Carroll] Shelby.”
Considering Michigan’s car manufacturing history, the Cobra inventor’s collaboration with Dearborn-based Ford Motor Company on the GT40 and the Dodge Viper could inspire nostalgia.
Of course, gambling and racecars may also have a natural relationship. BetMGM co-owner Entain partners with UK-based McLaren F1 for its PartyCasino and PartyPoker brands. In the US, those brands are live in New Jersey.
Rounding out BetMGM’s major online casino announcements since March 8 are the following:
- On March 8, Wheel of Fortune Online Casino took bets in New Jersey
- On April 27, “a new Buffalo Wild Wings online casino slot game” launched on BetMGM Casino in Michigan, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania; Borgata Casino in New Jersey and Pennsylvania; and PartyCasino in New Jersey
More Michigan Firsts
Most recently, UK-based 1X2 Network announced on Aug. 16 that it received a supplier’s license from the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB).
1X2 Network CEO Kevin Reid said his online casino game company that’s primarily known for crash games chose Michigan for a reason.
We’re immensely proud to bring our content to the USA and Michigan represents one of the first states to fully appreciate the powerful opportunities for regulated iGaming.
Indeed, Michigan is only one of eight states to legalize iGaming:
- Nevada (online poker only)
- New Jersey
- Rhode Island (launching next year)
- West Virginia
However, it’s not the first. Delaware and New Jersey’s iGaming marketplaces launched a decade ago. Michigan’s went live in January 2021.
Michigan also doesn’t generate the most revenue. Pennsylvania has that honor, bringing in $157.1 million in gross gaming revenue (GGR) in July 2023. Michigan’s online casino and poker rooms generated $153.6 million, and New Jersey’s GGR was $155.2 million that month.
However, Michigan seems to have a proactive regulator interested in adding online casino and poker operators and suppliers to its marketplace. For example, the MGCB spent years trying to coordinate multistate online poker play. As a result, beginning on Jan. 1, 2023, PokerStars allowed its Michigan and New Jersey players to gamble together.
The Pennsylvania regulator still doesn’t allow such online poker traffic sharing.
White Hat Studios seems to love Michigan
Meanwhile, London-based White Hat Studios seems to make it a business practice to debut its games in Michigan.
White Hat’s US entrance in July 2022 began with its Thriller Gorilla and Rolling in Gold slots at BetMGM Casino in Michigan.
Michigan online casinos also got White Hat’s blackjack games first.
In April 2023, Peaky Blinders slots went live in the US on the Eagle Casino and Sports app in Michigan.
On Aug. 22, White Hat announced:
We have further strengthened our US presence by going live with our partner PokerStars in Michigan – more states to follow shortly!
On Saturday, White Hat said its games had also launched on PokerStars in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
MGCB didn’t immediately respond to a question from Bonus today about how many online casino and poker operators and suppliers have entered the US marketplace via Michigan.
Big 3 Online Casino Revenue States Also See Firsts
Michigan, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania are the Big Three revenue-producing states for online casino gambling. All three also offer online poker.
So many times, online gambling operators will announce simultaneous launches in the Big Three states. For instance, BetMGM did so on April 27 with its Buffalo Wild Wings slot.
However, simultaneous US launches?
Not so much.
For instance, London-based 4ThePlayer entered the US in August 2022 in New Jersey, then brought its slots to Michigan a couple of months later. As of today, the game supplier hasn’t mentioned launching in Pennsylvania.
What About Pennsylvania?
Foreign online gambling operators and suppliers seem to favor entering legal US online casino and poker marketplaces in Michigan and New Jersey.
That leaves Pennsylvania as the outlier.
However, Pennsylvania is the GGR leader. Plus, online gambling launched in the Keystone State in July 2019, before Michigan’s marketplace went live.
So why aren’t there more headlines like Alex Weldon‘s today on Bonus? Weldon’s headline about the Spanish slots developer reads: Red Rake Gaming to Begin US Market Entry in Pennsylvania.
For one thing, the regulatory process takes a long time.
While that can be true in every state, Pennsylvania truly requires patience, even for US brands.
For instance, Golden Nugget Online Casino fans noticed the online casino operator officially began its Pennsylvania licensing process in March 2021. On Aug. 21, 2023, Golden Nugget spread word that it was accepting bets in the commonwealth.
Although, as Robyn McNeil reports in Bonus, the operators and suppliers can sometimes cause their own delays.
Full disclosure: I live in Philadelphia.