Is Online Gambling Legal in Michigan?
Online gambling became legal in December 2019. Three linked bills were signed into law by Governor Gretchen Whitmer.
- HN 4916: This bill legalizes sports betting at retail locations and online
- HB 4311: Online casino games and poker rooms are legalized.
- HB 4308: This bill regulates and formally recognizes Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) contests.
As well as allowing for regulation and licensing of online gambling sites in MI, these bills set out tax rates and fees. Taxes are based on gross profits, with sports betting at 8.4% and casino games up to 28% (tiered). In addition, the 3 commercial casinos in Detroit will pay a 1.25% city tax. Licensing fees are $150k for each type of license.
To legally bet online in Michigan, you’ll need to be 21 years or older. You will also need to be inside state lines. Geo-location technology will prevent you placing bets if there is any doubt that you are outside of MI. Online poker games will let you compete against other players from Michigan, though not to join the multi-state pools which include Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware.
Pari-mutuel betting is also legal online. This type of gambling had a carve out in the 2006 UIGEA laws, making online horse racing betting legal in every state where you can legally bet on horses in person.
Online Casinos in Michigan
Casino apps have come a long way in recent years. They now offer live-dealer games, innovative slots (some with very big progressive jackpots), keno and many software-based table games.
As with sports betting, Michigan casinos will partner with established online casino brands. Each of these will offer 100’s of games. Many game titles will be licensed from well-known studios like Aristocrat, IGT or Bally.
Here are some of the biggest and best casino brands which could be entering the market:
- 888 Casino
- Caesars Casino
- Unibet Casino
- Rivers Casino
- 888 Casino
- Bet365 Casino
- Golden Nugget
Online Casino Bonuses
Taking advantage of bonuses is a great way to enjoy the new online casino games. With a competitive and open market for the casino brands, you can expect some excellent offers.
Here are some of the casino deals to look out for when the apps go live:
- Free Play / Free Spins: Some brands will give you free play simply for registering. This can take the form of bonus chips or free spins on slots. You’ll need to wager what you win several times before it can be withdrawn.
- Matched Welcome Offers: The standard deal is a 100% match on your first deposit. The amount varies, up to around $1000. Look out for casinos that give you these bonuses on more than one ‘first’ deposit.
Loyalty schemes and extra promotions are important for casino fans. These will include reload bonuses, point / comp schemes (sometimes tied in with the retail schemes), free spins, leaderboard contests, free chips to check out the live dealer casino rooms and other unique / one off deals.
What Kind of Casino Games Can I Play at Michigan Online Casinos?
The majority of online casino games are slots. There are 1000’s of titles available. Many of these are online versions of the games you’ll find in Michigan’s live casinos. There are also long lists of online-only slots, many of which are every bit as good as the latest live casino games.
Favorites like Wheel of Fortune, Quick Hits and Buffalo can all be found online. You will also find games with progressive jackpots – some of these have life-changing top prizes. If you prefer the traditional approach, then 3-reel games can also be played.
Software based table games are available, though better technology has allowed this format to become even better. Many online casinos will offer live dealer casino games. You’ll see a dealer, via a video stream, and bet on the real action. Live dealer games include roulette, blackjack, 3-card poker and baccarat.
Your choices don’t end here. Michigan online casinos will include keno, bingo, video poker, novelty games including scratch cards and the ‘slingo’ slot / bingo mix, virtual racing games and more.
Online Sports Betting in Michigan
All 26 casinos (23 tribal and 3 commercial) will be able to apply for a mobile sports betting license. This will create a competitive landscape, giving sports fans a lot of choices.
In other regulated states, casinos have partnered with established betting brands. The partnership deals will be announced when the licensing conditions are made clear. The following brands are likely to be among the online sportsbooks opening quickly:
This list includes many of the biggest names in sports betting. All of them have apps as well as website-based online sportsbooks.
As well as the regular single match bets and parlays, there are some new betting formats coming to Michigan. These include in-play betting, which lets you bet on matches which are already underway. Cash out betting (also known as early-redemption betting) is also popular.
MI Online Sports Betting Bonuses
With so many online sportsbooks opening at once, there will be a lot of competition between them. You can take advantage of this by enjoying free bets, welcome bonuses and other promotions. It is always worth checking the terms and conditions for each bonus for timeframes and other clauses. In other regulated states, sportsbook bonuses are fair and easy to redeem.
Here are the kinds of bonuses to look out for:
- Completely Free Bets: Many books offer no-deposit free bet bonuses up to $25. These are short-term bonuses, often only lasting 7 days.
- Matched Welcome Bonuses: Free bets based on your initial deposit amount – usually at 100% – are a popular offer from many books.
- No-Lose First Bets: This type of bonus will return your stake if your first bet loses, often up to surprisingly large amounts.
This type of bonus is just to get you started. The brands will also compete with each other with loyalty reward programs and special promotions. It can pay to check the promos page of several books before you place a bet. You never know when deal will appear covering the exact bet you were about to place.
Michigan Online Sportsbooks: What Sports Can I Bet On?
You’ll be able to bet on the pro teams from MI – though this is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the possible bets. You’ll be able to bet on the Detroit Lions, Tigers, Red Wings and Pistons and the many collegiate and minor league teams around Michigan.
The biggest betting markets change with the seasons, with the NFL the biggest of all. You’ll be able to bet on NBA, MLB, NHL and the college matches in each sport. MLS betting is available, along with soccer fixtures from around the world.
Other betting markets include NASCAR, F1, MMA, Boxing, Golf, Tennis and even Cricket.
Online Poker Games in Michigan
Michigan has a long history of enjoying poker games. 2009 World Series of Poker winner Joe Cada comes from Shelby Township, MI. There are busy poker rooms in the commercial casinos in Detroit, which host national tournament tours as well as their own events.
Online poker is legal in Michigan. This will involve playing cash games, tournaments and sit n goes online against opponents from MI. It is hoped that in the future, players can join with others from different regulated states. At the moment, there are legal challenges about the scope of the Wire Act, which are preventing this from happening.
Michigan casinos will own the licenses for online poker rooms. They will then partner with established brands to bring this online. Here are the likely candidates:
- 888 Poker
Online Poker Bonuses
Poker rooms need a critical mass of players in order to be successful. This allows them to run big tournaments – and to have a wide selection of cash games at different buy-in levels.
This means there is likely to be fierce competition between the rooms to attract players. As with the sportsbooks and casinos, the first few months of Michigan online gambling will be a great time to boost your bankroll.
Here are the types bonus on offer at mobile poker sites:
- No Deposit Bonuses: These take the form of tokens or small cash game buy-ins. They give you the opportunity to check out an app or downloadable poker client before you commit to making a deposit. With some good play and a little luck, these offers could be enough to seed your poker bankroll.
- Matched Deposit Bonus: Matching at 100% of your initial deposit is the most common form of poker bonus. Some rooms will ‘clear’ this bonus in increments as you play the real money games.
- Loyalty Programs: Point collection schemes work well at poker rooms. You can swap these points for bonuses, cash or for goods from special online stores. Some schemes are tiered, with benefits improving as you climb the levels.
- Freeroll Tournaments: These can be tied to the loyalty schemes, as an incentive for depositors, or tied to missions / special events. Freerolls are poker tournaments with real prizes, though no entry fee.
- One / Off Promos / Events: Look out for special tournament events, which often come with special deals. There are also incentives to try out the latest poker formats, for example innovations within lottery jackpot Sit N Goes.
What Poker Formats Are Available Online in Michigan?
Since the UIGEA ended legal online poker in Michigan in 2006, there have been some significant innovations. Online poker has become faster in more ways than one.
Here are the main poker formats, along with the likely form they will take in MI.
- Cash Games: The standard form of poker, where you bet with real money, will be available at all the MI poker sites. With a limited player pool, the action will be focused on the lower to middle stakes. You’ll find No Limit Hold’em, especially in 6-max table form, dominates. Pot Limit Omaha, Omaha Hi-Lo and 7-Card Stud are other potential formats.
- Tournaments: These games have fixed buy-ins and increasing bets, carrying on until one player has all the chips. Bets increase, forcing the action. The biggest sites in Michigan will host ‘Sunday Majors’ with big guaranteed prize pools. Special events with a series of big buy-in games also run. Formats include turbo speed, rebuy and knockout bounty poker tournaments.
- Sit N Goes: Originally, this description covered small tournaments (usually 1 table) which started as soon as a table was full. These days there are many variations. The most popular are super-turbo ‘Lottery Sit N Goes’. These have a random prize pool of up to 10,000x your buy-in – and super-fast blinds.
- Fast Fold Poker: This online innovation gets rid of the dead time between hands. Players are pooled – and recombined at random for each new hand. You can play cash games or tournaments this way. Tournaments revert to regular games for the final table. Fast-fold poker gives you 4x the hands per hour compared to a standard table.
Daily Fantasy Sports Contests in Michigan
DFS contests are available in Michigan. No law made them specifically illegal, though until HB 4308 was signed in December 2019, they ran in a legal ‘grey area’.
These games are short fantasy sports contests for real money. Players pick rosters based on a salary cap and then enter cash games (head to head) or tournaments (many rosters competing) to win prizes.
The main operators in this space, FanDuel and DraftKings, are also entering the full sports betting space.
Bill 4308 includes an interesting clause. The DFS sites will be required to flag experienced players. This is designed to protect novice players against pros, who play DFS contests for a living. Any player that has won 3 or more prizes of $1000+ and 1000+ contests will get a special icon next to their name.
With less competition, the bonuses and promotions are smaller at DFS sites than the full sportsbooks. You can get $5 free entries – and enjoy loyalty rewards. In other states, it is possible to link your DFS and sports betting accounts.
Horse Racing Betting Online in Michigan
Horse racing betting benefited from an explicit carve-out from the UIGEA of 2006 – which outlawed most other forms of online gambling. Online horse racing betting sites operate nationally and welcome bets from Michigan residents.
Betting is via pari-mutuel pools. This means all wagers on a specific horse (or combination) are pooled, with this pool being equally divided among the winning tickets. Here are the bets you can place at tracks around the country online:
- Pick 5 / 6 (multi-race bets)
The horse racing betting brands are well-established. These are Bet America (who have entered the full sports betting space), TwinSpires and TVG. Bonuses at these brands include matched welcome offers and refunds on your first bets if your selection loses.
Michigan Online Gambling: Lottery Games
Lottery games have been online in Michigan since 2014. These are virtual versions of scratch off tickets – many with entertaining themes and big prizes.
The MI lottery started in 1972, when the game ‘green ticket’ started. Since then Michigan has joined the multi-state lottery association – and developed a range of state draws and retail-terminal based instant games.
This lottery has raised more than $20 billion for good causes, including the state School Aid Fund.
Retail Casinos, Sportsbooks and Poker Rooms in Michigan
There are 26 casinos in Michigan. 23 of them are tribal casinos, which range in size from just a few tables and up. There are also 3 big commercial casinos in Detroit. These were created in response to the opening of the Caesars Windsor casino over the bridge in Ontario.
No casino has opted out of running a sportsbook, though the final list will not be known until the final licensing conditions are published by the Michigan Gambling Control Board.
Commercial Casinos in Detroit:
- Greektown Casino: This casino is operated by Penn National Gaming, it is based in the Greektown Historic District of Detroit, opening in 2009. It is a big casino, with 3,000 slots and 85 table games covering all the popular formats. There is also a poker room, hotel, many dining options and a corporate event center.
- MGM Grand Detroit: This huge riverfront casino officially opened in 2007 – after years of legal and ownership wrangling. There are 3500 slots and 143 table games available, plus a poker room. Celebrity chef restaurants, a 1200-capacity music / shows venue and a hotel can be found at the site.
- Motor City Casino: This downtown Detroit casino has 2800 slots, 49 table games and two poker rooms. There is also a hotel, plus entertainment dining options, it opened in 2007. Motor City casino is noted for its ‘future retro’ design, including a unique ceiling in the casino itself.
Tribal Casinos in Michigan
- Bay Mills Resort and Casino: Located in Brimley, MI. This casino opened in 1995. It features 700 slots and 12 table games.
- FireKeepers Casino Hotel: Located in Emmet Charter Township, MI. This casino opened in 2009. This is a bigger casino, featuring 2900 slots and 76 table games.
- Four Winds New Buffalo: Located at New Buffalo Township, MI. This casino features 3,000 slot machines and 60 table games. It was expanded in 2011, adding 250 hotel rooms.
- Four Winds Hartford: This Hartford, MI based casino opened in 2011. It features 550 slot machines, plus 9 table games.
- Four Winds Dowagiac: Located in Dowagiac, MI. This is a smaller venue which opened in 2013. It has just 404 slots and 7 table games. It shares a loyalty program the ‘W Club’ with the other Four Winds venues.
- Gun Lake Casino: Located near Wayland, MI. This casino features 2,200 slot machines, 47 table games and a 14-seat poker room. There is also a buffet and an entertainment complex.
- Island Resort and Casino: Located in Bark River, MI. With 1200 slots, 26 table games and a large poker room, this is a mid-sized casino. There is also a hotel and entertainment / dining options.
- Kewadin Casino Christmas: Located at Christmas, MI. There is no hotel at this casino, though with 245 slots and a small selection of table games, there is plenty to keep you entertained. This is one of five ‘Kewadin’ casinos around Michigan.
- Kewadin Casino Hessel: This is a smaller casino, with just 131 machines, and a 6400 square foot venue that includes a deli and a bar. The surrounding area is known for outdoor activities.
- Kewadin Casino Manistique: Known as ‘Slots of Fun’, this casino is exclusively for slots, with no table games on offer. You will find a hotel, bar and the Mariner’s Cove restaurant.
- Kewadin Casino Sault Sainte Marie: This is the largest and the oldest of the Kewadin casinos. It opened in 1985 and has a hotel and convention Center. You’ll find 2000 slots at this location.
- Kewadin Casino St Ignace: This casino is locally known as ‘The Shores’. It has 700 slots, plus 22 table games to choose from.
- Kings Club Casino Brimley: This casino was the first tribally owned casino to open in the US in 1984. Today you will find over 250 slot machines here, and a café.
- Leelanau Sands Casino, Sutton’s Bay: The main attraction at this casino is ‘the Lodge’ (hotel). You’ll find 350 slot machines, and 7 table games here.
- Little River Casino, Manistee: A mid-sized Michigan tribal casino featuring a luxury hotel, this venue has grown to house 1300 slots and dozens of table games.
- Northern Waters Casino, Watersmeet: This casino has 500 slots, 7 table games and features the Dancing Eagle hotel. You’ll also find a sports bar, food court, restaurant and a golf course.
- Odawa Casino, Petoskey: A larger north Michigan casino and entertainment venue. There are 1200 slots and 36 table games here. Extras include a nightclub and concert hall.
- Ojibwa Casino, Marquette MI: Located close to Harvey, the Ojibwa casino hosts 500 slots and 10 table games. Food and bar options are available, though no hotel.
- Ojibwa Casino, Baraga: This venue does include a hotel, meeting and event space. In the casino you will find 300 slots and 8 table games.
- Saganing Eagles Landing Casino, Standish MI. You won’t find any traditional table games at this tribal casino. Instead blackjack and roulette are offered electronically – along with 800 slots.
- Soaring Eagle Casino, Mt. Pleasant: This casino is so big, they split it into 2. There is an additional ‘slots palace’ across the street, which expands the number of games to a huge 3300 and 60 table games. There is also an 18 table poker room at this venue.
- Turtle Creek Casino, Williamsburg: This is a bigger resort, offering golf, bars and multiple dining options. You’ll find 1200 slots and 40 table games on the casino floor.
Wrapping Up: Online Gambling in Michigan
It is all change in Michigan for online gambling. 3 bills, signed in December 2019, have made sports betting, casinos and poker legal – and clarified the position of DFS contests.
The first sites will be live in 2020.
This will give you an opportunity to take advantage of fierce competition as the brands go online. There will be free bets and casino chips, matched bonuses and no-lose offers on your first bets to choose from.
You’ll be able to bet, spin or play poker on your mobile phone anywhere within state lines. For the full experience, check out the gambling sites from your desktop or laptop.