Michigan iGaming Market Set for Hard Rock as Firm Acquires 888 US Assets



  • Hard Rock finally has a clear path towards operating an online casino in Michigan after it secured a deal with 888 Holdings.
  • The SI Casino license will be picked after Hard Rock gains necessary approval from the Michigan Gaming Control Board.
  • DraftKings remained top contender for RSI/BetRivers license following Hard Rocks decision.

Hard Rock is coming to The Great Lakes State. This entry is occasioned by the company’s purchase of the US assets of 888 Holdings. With this new move, Hard Rock might achieve its goal of expanding into Michigan.

Last Thursday, the UK-based company announced that it was in the process of selling its B2C operations in the United States to Hard Rock. This places the latter on track to becoming the latest online gambling operator in Michigan.

The transfer of these assets between both companies will occur in phases until the end of the year. However, it still requires regulatory approval from the Michigan Gaming Control Board.

Hard Rock Secures Online Casino License After Making Strategic Choice 

The number of active online casinos in Michigan are about to increase as the state’s dynamic gambling industry attracts more operators. Subject to regulatory approval from the Michigan Gaming Control Board, Hard Rock will pick SI Casino MI’s license.

Hard Rock Digital, in which Playtech holds a minority stake, is the interactive gaming and sports betting arm of Hard Rock International and Seminole Gaming. The company has been eyeing the Michigan market for a while. Recently, when the owners of RSI put it up for sale, Hard Rock Digital came up as one of the major contenders alongside DraftKings.

At the time, there were two licenses up for grabs following 888 Holdings' break from SI Casino and Rush Street Interactive's potential sale. (RSI is the parent company of BetRivers, Michigan’s No. 4 online casino operator.) This presented Hard Rock with two options.

It appears that the entertainment behemoth has made its choice. The company chose to gain entry into the elite club of Michigan online casino operators through 888 and SI Casino instead of RSI and BetRivers. Hard Rock would have gained a 6.3% market share if it pursued the more expensive option of acquiring RSI/BetRivers.

However, the proximity of DraftKings to this deal definitely contributed to Hard Rock’s decision. Based on recent history, the prominent online operator would have at least made acquiring RSI and BetRivers more expensive for Hard Rock and any other prospective rival. DraftKings still has made any concrete announcement on Rush Street Interactive.

SI Casino MI License Slot to Be Filled by Hard Rock’s Gambling Franchise 

British company, 888 Holdings, had announced earlier that it was undertaking a strategic review that included offloading some of its consumer-centric businesses in North America. It started with an untimely termination of its partnership with Sports Illustrated’s parent company Authentic Brands on March 6. This development affected the Great Lakes State. Now, the UK-based firm expects to exit US markets by the fourth quarter of 2024.

The termination of the partnership with SI was directly tied to the difficulties 888 experienced with gaining traction in the face of intense competition in Michigan and elsewhere in America. Hard Rock is now picking the SI Casino Michigan license in the aftermath of a deal with 888. The company will hope to do better than its predecessors. The license had previously been held by TwinSpires until 2021.

Hard Rock will partner with the Hannahville Indian Community for its operations. Michigan has always been a part of Hard Rock’s vision after it started rolling out its gambling franchise one state at a time. However, the state allows only one online gambling partner per retail casino license, capping the number of brands at 15.

DraftKings Remains Top Potential Buyer for RSI and BetRivers in Michigan 

DraftKings and Hard Rock were the top contenders for available iGaming licenses in Michigan. However, the latter already opted for one of these limited slots leaving DraftKings as top choice for Rush Street Interactive and BetRivers Casino MI.

The company is one of the richer brands capable of sealing a deal with RSI and absorbing BetRivers with its substantial market share. DraftKings has already been approached recently by RSI officials, but the company is refusing to give clear information about its plans. Regardless, all will be revealed with time.

Jessica is a news contributor to Gamble Online Michigan. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Economics but has over three years of experience working in the hospitality and gambling industry. Despite her core finance and investment banking background, she has been a casino feature writer for N1 Interactive Limited and multiple gambling affiliate sites. Her work has been featured on the bet365 blog, casino.zone and Max Force Racing. She spends her time between Michigan and California, staying up-to-date on the latest industry developments