Michigan: 888’s SI Sportsbook to replace TwinSpires as Island Resort operator’s online sports betting brand

The Michigan Gaming Control Board has approved 888 Holdings’ VHL, Michigan LLC as the new platform provider for the Hannahville Indian Community’s online sports betting site effective Wednesday, Sept. 7. The tribe, which operates Island Resort & Casino in Harris, entered an agreement with 888 —which runs SI Sportsbook— after Churchill Down‘s TwinSpires, the original platform provider, announced earlier this year its plans to exit the business. 

“The Hannahville tribe is the first operator in Michigan to change platform providers since internet gaming and sports betting began here in January 2021,” said Henry Williams, MGCB executive director, in an official press release Wednesday. “The tribe has found another experienced partner, and I wish them continued success.”

The site will operate under the Sports Illustrated brand name. At this time, the tribe and 888 Holdings have requested the MGCB to authorize online sports betting only, but they likely will seek approval for online gaming later this year. TwinSpires will no longer be offering online sports betting or online casino services.

The Hannahville Indian Community was among 10 licensees initially authorized by the MGCB to launch both forms of internet gaming in Michigan on Jan. 22, 2021. In mid-April, the MGCB authorized the state’s 15th internet gaming and sports betting operator. Licenses by law are limited to the commercial casinos and federally recognized tribes in Michigan.

In February, CDI said it is exiting the online casino and sports betting businesses, as Chief Executive Officer William Carstanjen told investors in a conference call. The Kentucky Derby operator, however, said it would still maintain its web-based horse betting operations.

CDI’s departure from the sports gaming vertical was expected to happen over the following six months, according to company officials. The business will still maintain retail sportsbook operations in its casinos and try to sell market-access rights to other operators where appropriate.

For some time now, the rumor that CDI wanted to sell its sports and iGaming operations grew bigger. In December, Bloomberg reported the company was exploring deals for its sportsbook product, “working with an adviser” to solicit potential interest in the wagering platform. At the time, it was said TwinSpires could fetch about $1.5 billion in a transaction.