Michigan launched online sports betting on January 22, with a handful of companies offering their services in the 10th most populous state in America.
I downloaded six of the sports betting apps to test them out during the first weekend. Here is a look at how they fared in terms of downloads, potential market share and promotional offers.
DraftKings: The app from Draftkings Inc (NASDAQ:DKNG) is incredibly easy to use, which shouldn’t come as a surprise given the company's strong market share in the states it operates in. What was surprising was how hard it was at first to login and use the app during the first weekend live in Michigan. The app crashed numerous times and unfortunately became the app used the least by me due to tech problems.
DraftKings offered signup bonuses, matching deposits and $100 free to play blackjack in the casino portion of the app. The company had some bets that were pretty close to being guaranteed winners, such as on the chances of a first quarter touchdown or more than 0.5 touchdowns scored in the NFL Conference Championship.
FanDuel: Flutter Entertainment ADR's (OTC:PDYPY) FanDuel app had several login problems for me, but operated very well during the first few days of legal betting in the state. The app did feature a warning the first couple days that due to increased volume, settlement on some winning bets could take up to 30 minutes.
One of the best promotions FanDuel ran was an odds boost for the Detroit Pistons. The company allowed users to get an increased spread when the Detroit Pistons played the Los Angeles Lakers on Jan. 28. While bettors across other states got the Pistons at +7.5 odds, users in Michigan got the Pistons at over +150. The max wager was set at $50. So, anyone who bet on the Pistons could double their money as long as the Pistons didn’t lose by more than 150 points. (The Pistons won the game.)
Barstool Sportsbook: The Barstool Sportsbook was launched by Penn National Gaming, Inc (NASDAQ:PENN) in Michigan. Barstool offered $10 in free bets for new users in the state and another $5 for those who filled out their favorite sports on their profile. One of the things that really sets the app apart from the competition is Barstool's unique personalities for betting ideas, such as odds boosts and suggested bets.
BetRivers: The lesser known BetRivers brand comes from Rush Street Interactive Inc (NYSE:RSI), which went public via a SPAC. The company offered free promotional money to people who signed up on opening weekend. The app was easy to use and offered a wide range of prop bets and odds-boosted events. Many of the boosted bets came with limits of $100, higher than competitors.
PointsBet: Another lesser known company, PointsBet Holdings Ltd. (OTC:PBTHF), puts out one of the apps I was looking forward to testing out. One of the promotions PointsBet offered was betting on the Detroit Pistons spread. For every point the Pistons scored, users got $1 in free bets.
PointsBet also offered a near risk-free bet of taking the Detroit Red Wings +11 against the Florida Panthers at +100 odds. It’s rare that an NHL team loses by 11, and the bet won for those backing the Red Wings and the spread.
BetMGM: A joint venture between MGM Resorts International (NYSE:MGM) and GVC International, the BetMGM app is very easy to use, and I was surprised with the amount of odds boosts from the company.
Other Options: Other companies that launched in Michigan but whose apps I did not test or download were Golden Nugget Online Gaming (NASDAQ:GNOG), William Hill, Wynn Resorts, Limited (NASDAQ:WYNN) and TwinSpires, owned by Churchill Downs, Inc. (NASDAQ:CHDN).
Early App Data: Michigan is expected to release official sports betting figures in late February. Bank of America analyst Shaun C. Kelley is out with some early data about the companies that launched online sports betting and iGaming in Michigan.
App download data shows DraftKings and FanDuel as the early leaders in the state with 40% and 27% market share, respectively. Barstool Sportsbook and BetMGM fought it out for third place with 14% and 13% of app downloads, respectively.
The app downloads showed lower numbers from William Hill, PointsBet and TwinSpires. BetRivers offered an online download and not a mobile app, so downloads were not reported.
Kelley sees Michigan market share shaking out to 30% share for each of FanDuel and DraftKings, and 10% to 15% each for Barstool Sportsbook and BetMGM. Others could have single digit market share, according to Kelley.
Benzinga’s Take: As you can see, the betting platforms tested offered some large incentives to get users to sign-up as well as place bets on Michigan-related teams.
The question will now turn to which app is the best and easiest to use and which one users stick around for.
The early results show sets of tiers for the sports betting players in Michigan. DraftKings and FanDuel look like early winners, followed by Barstool and BetMGM. The race could be for third place, then shaking out if any other app can gain 5% share in the state.