SI Casino Makes US Debut in Michigan, With Little Fanfare

SI Casino made its US debut at 8 a.m. today in Michigan. The companion online gambling arm of SI Sportsbook notably completes the 15 legal online casino and sports betting sites the state allows.

However, the 8:30 a.m. press release from the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) seems to be the most fanfare the Michigan online casino site is receiving.

SI Casino is a partnership between online gambling brand 888 Holdings and the self-described “iconic” Sports Illustrated magazine. SI Casino and SI Sportsbook are the online gambling sites on the Hannahville Indian Community license. That’s the tribe operating Island Resort and Casino in the Upper Peninsula. The brands, the tribe, and the casino didn’t announce the app.

Michigan’s SI Sportsbook arrived on Sept. 7, 2022, when TwinSpires Sportsbook and Casino ceased operations in the state. (Island Resort still displays TwinSpires on its site as its sports betting brand, but this is an oversight.)

MGCB Executive Director Henry Williams said:

I wish the Hannahville tribe continued success as they once again may offer their customers both internet gaming and internet sports betting in Michigan.

Full Array of Games at Launch

Though the launch may have been quiet, the SI Casino product seems robust. That’s no surprise, as the brand may be new but 888 is a veteran of the online casino business. It got its start way back in 1997 as Casino-on-Net. Its own brand, 888casino, was among the first wave of New Jersey online casino launches in 2013, so it has a longstanding relationship with game suppliers in the US market.

The Sports Illustrated: Casino app describes itself this way:

Play 500+ games and earn real money, free spins, and more! Find LIVE DEALER blackjack, roulette, craps, and plenty more.

The lineup of real money slots at SI Casino includes favorites like Gonzo’s Quest, Dancing Drums and Divine Fortune Megaways. There are also a total of 18 exclusive games, some of which feature the Sports Illustrated brand.

  • Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Party
  • Sports Illustrated Arcade
  • The Goldiator
  • Space Arcader
  • Captain 8 and the Portal of Peril, and more.

There’s a similarly robust selection of live dealer games from Playtech, including sports-themed versions of blackjack and rouletteEven slots fans will find something for them in the live dealer section: Buffalo Blitz Live Slots.

Why Is SI Casino So Shy?

Without a big marketing push to accompany the launch, it appears SI Casino is counting on organic crossover from its sports bettors.

This quiet debut of SI Casino may be happening because 888 and Sports Illustrated are busy with other concerns at the moment:

  • 888 announced in November 2022 that it will concentrate on states like Michigan, which offer online casinos and sports betting. That means the brand will be pulling back from sports-only states. Those may include Colorado and Virginia, where SI Sportsbook takes bets.
  • Sports Illustrated will begin using AI-assisted content, the Arena Group reported on Friday. The Arena Group publishes the magazine under a license agreement with the publication’s owner, Authentic Brands Group.

Meanwhile, the December 2022 sports betting revenue PlayMichigan reported shows SI Sportsbook’s No. 10 ranking out of 15 sites reveals SI Casino may have a chance to be a solid small brand. That may be proven on Sunday when Super Bowl bettors flip to casino games for some relief from the Big Game.

About the Author

Heather Fletcher

Heather Fletcher is a writer for Michigan Sharp with a focus on online casino content. She had her first published byline at age 10, but didn't get paid for her writing until she got her first newspaper job. Heather's work in Suburban News Publications in Ohio and eventually took her to The New York Times, where she's still a contract freelance reporter for the National Desk. In March 2021, Fletcher began writing about online casino gambling as the lead writer for Online Poker Report, which lead her to MI Sharp.