888 and Hannahville Partnership Approved in Michigan
On February 7, 2023, the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) gave the green light to VHL Michigan to become the new platform provider for the Hannahville Indian Community’s internet casino.
Continued online presence for Hannahville casino.
The agreement helps to cement changes the Hannahville casino made in the summer of 2022 to keep its online gaming services.
TwinSpires, owned by Churchill Downs, was the previous platform provider for Hannahville. But they pulled out of the agreement last July — bringing an end to their no-account casino and sports betting services in Michigan. The move marked a shift in TwinSpires’ strategy toward business-to-business services.
Two months after the agreement with TwinSpires ended, VHL Michigan came on board to fill the gap. The most recent approval by the MGCB extends this partnership and ensures that the Hannahville Indian Community can continue to offer its online gaming options alongside their physical location — the Island Resort and Casino in Harris, Michigan.
Referring to the move, 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.”
The MGCB is tasked with not only regulating the gaming industry from its headquarters in Detroit but also ensuring the health of the industry. This makes approval for agreements around needed services, like platform providers, key. Having one of the few legal gambling operations in the state lose its internet offerings would run counter to the board’s mission.
This is the first time a casino operator in the US has changed its platform provider since online casinos were first introduced in 2013. Online sports betting and gambling operations, including no account casinos, only became legal in the state of Michigan on January 22, 2021.
Owned by 888 Holdings, VHL Michigan now operates Hannaville’s pay n play casino and sports betting site using the Sports Illustrated brand. This is a major move that secures the company’s position in the state.
According to Michigan law, such licenses are limited to three commercial casinos and 12 federally recognized tribes. That means there are few opportunities for platform providers to serve the state’s online gaming needs. The MGCB website hosts a full list of Michigan’s gaming operators and their platform providers.
The Hannahville Indian Community.
Located in Wilson, Michigan, the Hannahville Indian Community is committed to preserving its culture through both social and economic growth. A Potawatomi Reservation, the Hannahville people are descended from those who resisted leaving Michigan during the Indian Removal in 1834.
Since entering the gaming industry in the 1980s, they have been able to increase their Enrolled Tribal Membership and generate funds to help operate their many social services. With the proceeds, they are able to support a number of important programs, including opioid prevention and education, the school system, community pharmacy, and the police department.
The extended partnership between 888’s VHL Michigan and the Hannahville Indian Community promises to continue this upward trajectory into the future.