Getting to Know Michigan and Its Gambling History
Is any type of online gambling legal in Michigan?
- Online poker: It’s complicated.
- Online casino games: It’s complicated.
- Online sports betting: It’s complicated.
Michigan laws don’t specify whether online gaming and betting are legal or illegal.
Michigan is comprised of two peninsulas where the Great Lakes and Midwestern United States come together. The state is surrounded by the Great Lakes and borders Ohio and Indiana, and it shares lake coasts with Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and the Canadian province of Ontario.
- Abbreviation: MI
- State Motto: If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you.
- Capital City: Lansing
- Population Estimate: 9.96 million (10th)
- Website: http://www.michigan.gov/
Pari-mutuel wagering began in Michigan legally as far back as the 1930s at licensed horse tracks. In 1972, the state added a legal lottery and charitable gaming. In the 1990s, keno was authorized, as well as bingo and recreational card games for seniors.
In 1988, Congress passed the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) to allow Native American tribes to establish gambling revenue generators on their reservations. Of the many tribes in Michigan, seven of them competed their state compacts by 1993, and the first casinos opened in 1994, complete with table games and slot machines. More tribes signed compacts in the ensuing years, and approximately one dozen tribes now operate and manage more than 20 casinos throughout the state.
More gambling followed in 1996 when Michigan voters approved a referendum to allow three casinos in Detroit. The Michigan Gaming Control & Revenue Act authorized that additional gambling.
The Michigan Code details much of the legal gambling regulations and provides fairly standard definitions of gambling and even electronic funds transfer terminals but not internet gambling. Limitations on licenses are explained, as are penalties for violating state laws.
There is a section that discusses social media internet games but does not specify if those are limited to games accessible by social media and whether they are free-play or real-money games. The definition does not include fantasy sports but does include games “offered over the internet or on a telephone or other mobile device. Ultimately, it states:
“The chapter does not prohibit a social media internet game from rewarding a player, as a result of chance or uncertain event, with either one or more free plays or an extended period of playing time.”
Most Recent Developments
When the Michigan Lottery put its tickets online for additional sales in 2015, it caught the eye of Michigan
State Senator Mike Kowall, who gave thought to online poker and other casino games. The revenue would benefit the state and the casinos, so he introduced a bill in 2016 called the Lawful Internet Gaming Act. It cleared a committee but failed to get to a Senate vote.
The same Senate bill was introduced again in 2017 and sought to legalize and regulate poker and other games on the internet via partnerships with local casinos. It cleared a committee but stalled due to talks with Native American tribes regarding concerns about fair access.
Meanwhile, State Representative Brandt Iden brought a companion bill to his side of the legislature with the same name. He did garner a committee hearing and eventually passed but did not make it to the House for a floor vote.
Both lawmakers entered 2018 with the intention of drafting new bills, ones that consider more of the tribal needs and answer questions brought up by concerned legislators. All interested parties are being consulted before the 2018 bills are revealed and brought to their respective commitees. The sponsoring lawmakers have not only seen successes in other states like New Jersey but see ones like Pennsylvania entering the fray, as well as multi-state liquidity to increase revenue. There is much anticipation that Michigan will be one of the next states to pass online gambling legislation, possibly in 2018.
Michigan is also considering legalizing daily fantasy sports (DFS), an issue that was brought up in 2017 and could be combined with the aforementioned online gambling legislation in 2018 in a broader omnibus bill. Legislators are keen on passing DFS this year.
Sports betting is not yet on the radar of Michigan lawmakers in the form of a bill, but a positive outcome of the US Supreme Court case involving New Jersey could add sports betting to that expansion bill in 2018. Lawmakers are waiting to see details and the Supreme Court decision before committing to any legislation.
Gambling Sites FAQ
Q: Can I play for real money on your recommended poker, gambling, and betting sites?
A: Yes, they do cater to Michigan players who seek to gamble and bet online.
Q: Does state law enforcement intend to crack down on internet gaming?
A: Michigan is more intent on legalizing and regulating online games than cracking down on offshore sites that currently make those offerings. While there could be a move to require internet service providers to block some of the sites currently offered, there is little to indicate that a full law enforcement movement is in the works.
Q: Should players be worried about a crackdown?
A: Players need only worry that their sites may eventually withdraw from the Michigan market. But no situation is likely to impact players with any type of legal or criminal prosecution for simply playing on poker, casino game, and sports betting sites that are licensed in other countries and provide them with services they are unable to access elsewhere.
Q: What if one of your recommended sites shuts down? Will I get my money?
A: The sites with which we work know that segregating player funds is the key to positive player relations, and it allows them to pay players in the case of a market block or shutdown. These sites have long reputations of paying players in all types of situations, so we are confident that players will always have access to their funds.
Q: How do I deposit and withdraw money from these sites?
A: Payment processing options vary from site to site, but those catering to the US market typically offer deposit options via credit and debit cards, and possibly via an ewallet or bank transfer. Each site is different and should be consulted for details. Most withdrawals, however, are paid by checks, though new players are discovering that bitcoin is a form of cryptocurrency that most sites are set up to accept now. The benefits of bitcoin are that they can be used for deposits and withdrawals, and transactions tend to be quick and fairly straightforward.