Gambling in Michigan

Michigan Gambling LawsThe State of Michigan regulates and has different legal restrictions on the different types of gambling types applicable in the following ways;

  • Casino Games – Tribal Casinos & 3 land-based casinos in downtown Detroit. Canada’s Windsor Casino is literally only across the river from downtown Detroit and is a very popular gaming location.
  • Sports Betting – Other than Horse Betting since 1933 & Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS), nothing else is yet legal and sports betting online is still to come to fruition.
  • Online Gambling – There is currently no law specifically mentioning online gambling in Michigan and online casinos (after one was amended after briefly appearing in 1999). As in most States, the assumption is that the general ‘everything is illegal unless we specifically regulate it’ law covers online gambling for real money.
  • Live Poker – Michigan offers plenty of choice as many casinos offer poker rooms. Social poker ‘home’ games played for small stakes are considered to be fine if no-one makes a profit.
  • Online Poker – See above in Michigan online gambling section. Not legal yet.
  • Lottery Betting – A popular State Lottery exists in Michigan plus access to inter-State jackpot lottery games.
  • Bingo Games – A loophole in Michigan State Law allows for charitable gaming which includes keno, raffles and bingo.

Sports Betting in Michigan

Legal Sports Betting in Michigan is not yet available. Whilst Sports Betting has a little way to go before it will become fully legalized, the great news for sports bettors is that it will be legal soon (or at least that’s how we read the moves of the Michigan state legislators).

How and when legalized sports betting in Michigan (MI) will be implemented remains unclear, however, we anticipate the state legislators will allow some form of legalized sports betting sometime later in 2018 or perhaps in 2019.

The first Michigan Sports Betting Bill has passed the State House; however, a Second Bill is required to ratify the decision into law.

Sports betting regulations In Michigan.

The state of Michigan’s second piece of legislation on the legalization of sports betting will prepare the groundwork for introducing sports betting to the state’s bricks-and-mortar, land-based casinos. The legislators are also looking to address larger concerns such as setting up the Michigan state tax rate on legal sports betting. A draft of the bill is not yet ready.

In the future, as the State laws become passed, however, you should be able to bet on sports anywhere within the state of Michigan and shortly thereafter, the concept of ‘Michigan online casino’ may become more palatable to the state’s lawmakers.

Michigan Sports Betting Online

Sports Betting Online in the state of Michigan is not currently offered. The State’s first legal sports betting options are expected to be established at the state’s land-based casinos to begin with and given the state’s long history and affiliation with Native American casinos, perhaps legal sports betting will make an appearance at Michigan’s number of Tribal Casinos.
Whilst not the most open of states to liberal gaming laws, believe it or not on a nation-wide level, Michigan is one of the more liberal and open-minded states to gambling legalization and sports betting in general. Consequently, it may only be potentially a matter of a short time until we advise you of where you can bet legally online in Michigan.
We will keep you up-to-date in the unfolding legal environment and the best online sports betting sites as they become available in the state of Michigan.

Casino Gambling in Michigan

Michigan has now 32 casinos (both tribal and land-based) at which you’ll find more than 36000 slots and gaming machines. As at August 2018, there are a total of 783 table games.

Michigan Land-Based Casinos

As for its land-based casinos, Michigan firstly had a number of Tribal casinos from the 1980’s onwards and from 1999, the State’s first legal land-based casino opened in Detroit.

Michigan Online Casinos

“Is online gambling legal in Michigan?” Unfortunately, the answer to the question;is still a ‘No’.

However, the signs are positive that the legalization of sports betting will lead the way for online casinos to follow.

As mentioned previously, Michigan State has not yet implemented the introduction of legal online casinos.

In all likelihood (given Michigan’s long history of legalized gambling), it should be the upcoming legalization of sports betting in the State that will drive the Michigan State Legislature’s change to legalize online casinos.

Furthermore, emboldened by the success of the casino in Windsor, Ontario, Canada – just across the bridge from Detroit – voters are onboard (and leading the way for the State’s lawmakers to follow), approving the Michigan Gaming Control and Regulation Act, which allowed for the construction of the three land-based casinos within Detroit’s city limits.

Hypothetically speaking, given an untroubled implementation period of sports betting in the state’s land-based casinos, Michigan’s state residents should gain access to online casino betting options in the short to medium term future.

Tribal Casinos in Michigan

Tribal Casinos, otherwise known as ‘Native American Gaming’ comprise casinos, bingo halls, and other gambling operations on Indian reservations or other tribal land across 28 states of the United States of America.

At the present time, 29 of Michigan’s 32 legal casinos are Tribal Casinos.

Gambling Age in Michigan

Michigan gambling age has a state limit of a minimum of 18 years of age. Each form of gambling can be found in the state as early as 18, provided you know where to look.

Please be aware, that each individual gambling location has its own age requirements. Each casino essentially been given the right to decide its own legal gambling age/s, however state law determines it may be no less than 18.

Since each casino has the right to choose, theoretically, you may be barred from one casino at 18 but eligible to gamble in another.
Many of the tribal casinos in Michigan allow players to gamble as early as 18, while some require that you be 19 and at others, even 21. Check online or call specific casinos for details.

Horse Racing Betting in Michigan

Horse Racing Betting is legal (course/track side and online betting) for all residents of the state of Michigan (over the age of 18).

Currently, whilst there might be some restrictive laws when it comes to various betting types in Michigan, in the meantime it is completely legal to spend the day watching the races and bet on horses in the Great Lakes State.

Michigan state residents can wager on horse races both Track side and online. All of the largest horse betting websites accessible in the United States have a presence in the state of Michigan.

Track Side / Off Track Betting (OTB) in Michigan

Track Side – Michigan is home to 3 live racing venues that accept wagers on horse races. Horse racing in the state is regulated by Michigan Racing Association and the Harness Horse Breeders of Michigan and administered under the Michigan Gaming Control Board.

Off Track Betting (OTB) – There are no stand-alone OTBs in the state of Michigan and it is not possible to bet on horse racing in the states 32 casinos. Best to stick to the excellent online betting facilities when betting off-track in Michigan.

Online Horse Racing Betting in Michigan

Three major horse racing online betting sites all accept customers over the age of 18 from Michigan and offer wagering on races in Michigan, elsewhere in the U.S. and around the world are all available.

Fantasy Sports Laws in Michigan

Not at all related to regular casino games of random chance, Fantasy Sports betting has long been exempted from US federal legislation as it is widely considered to be a contest of skill.
Daily fantasy sports (DFS) are permitted in Michigan even though the legal status of the games has never been affirmed in the positive by legislation. Back in 2015, Michigan’s DFS fans received a scare when a legalization bill failed to win support of State Legislators. The then-Executive Director of the Michigan Gaming Board said that DFS would continue to run contrary to the state’s laws. The Gaming Board cannot force gaming law to be adopted and the Attorney General of Michigan has never ventured into the debate.

Thus, that status quo remains in effect in Michigan to the current day.

A current proposal to eventually be put forward to the Michigan State Legislature states that DFS sites must be licensed to operate in Michigan and are subject to a number of consumer protection regulations. Requirements include;

  • All sites be licensed
  • All sites prohibit employees and sporting officials from taking part
  • They may only accept customers over 18
  • They must be subject to independent audits
  • They must keep players’ funds in a separate account from operator funds (in order to protect customers’ deposits).

How DFS works

DFS betting is a very different format of sports betting to the traditional ‘straight’ sports betting. In a DFS league, you keep to a virtual salary cap which is then used for you to ‘spend’ and draft players into your DFS team.

Each player is priced determined on his/her perceived virtual market value in their respective sports league (NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL etc. etc.) and their value is usually based on the standard of their seasonal and all-time career performances.

If you wish to ‘buy’ the best relief pitcher in MLB, for example, you’ll need to spend a significant percentage of your salary cap on that single star player. The best DFS teams usually feature consistent performers rather than superstar athletes.

Once you have ‘paid’ for your virtual team from your set team ‘budget’, take a comfortable seat and relax to watch and see how the outcomes of the weekend’s games unfold.
Your virtual team’s real-life counterparts collect stats (TDs, strikeouts, goals, points, completions, hits, rebounds etc.) in the real-world sports events and as such, your fantasy league team accumulates points online.

The person whose team accumulates the most points, wins their DFS league, whether that is a weekly, regular season or stand-alone playoff ‘league’ or competition.

Poker in Michigan

Poker in Michigan, and unlicensed ‘Home’ Poker games and other forms of unlicensed games are played widely due to the state of Michigan having a more open-minded approach to Poker than most states of the Union.

Poker Rooms

Michigan has a total of 42 poker rooms (29 in the Detroit/Toledo region, 7 in Lower Peninsula Michigan and 6 in Upper Peninsula Michigan) at which to bet legally on poker in addition to the state’s 29 Native American tribal casinos. It is perfectly legal to play different types of poker without fear of breaking any laws (including Casino Hold’em, Texas Hold’em, Caribbean Stud Poker, No Limit Hold’em etc.).

In fact, in Michigan (unlike most other states, including those more lenient states on other forms of gambling), social poker ‘home’ games played for small stakes are considered to be fine if no-one makes a profit.

Online Poker Laws

For the time being, Online Poker exists in a rather unique environment in the state of Michigan. Most strictly speaking, it is not technically against the law to play online poker in Michigan. There was a law that prevented it for a brief time, however, that law has since been done away with.

Confusingly, that does not necessarily make it legal to play online poker in Michigan. It only means there is no law on the books that actually prevents it.

Current Michigan anti-gambling laws make it illegal to operate an online poker site inside the state. Interestingly, no current online poker operator has tested governmental resolve on that point. However, there are a number of offshore online poker sites willing to take customers from Michigan. Naturally, Federal U.S. laws makes it extraordinarily difficult to get money on and off these sites legally at this point in time.

Therefore, as it currently stands, given the absence of legalized and regulated online poker in the state of Michigan, the legality of any and all of this activity is actively shaded in grey and remains an answered question.

For now, it is safest to presume that online poker is still illegal in Michigan. However, as soon as the question becomes clarified in its answer a little further, we’ll let you know.

eSports Betting in Michigan

Given the unprecedented decision of the U.S. Federal Supreme Court in May 2018 to rule in favor of legalizing sports betting, we anticipate that eSports betting will lead the way as a sports betting legislation ‘lubricant’ in Michigan in the very near future.

eSports has transformed video game play at its highest-level into a full-time professional sport in which the best players sign multi-million-dollar contracts to compete for glory. eSports are mostly played by teams and in league and tournament formats.

The electronic games themselves are equivalent to different sports types. For example, in eSports, the games CS:GO and Overwatch are equivalent to, say, NHL and MLB. eSports is the theoretical concept, while the different electronic game types are loosely equivalent to different sport types.

Betting on eSports is growing enormously in popularity every year. International sportsbooks offer a range of betting markets across all major eSports tournaments and formats.

With the $100 billion revenue threshold mark globally in 2018 about to be crossed, eSports is easily the highest-level competition in gaming today with all the best players in the world taking part, and with millions of fanatical fans across the globe.

Watch for betting on eSports shortly on a soon-to-be-legal Michigan sportsbook.

History of Gambling in Michigan

Michigan has an interesting history of adopting innovative change in the gambling sector, whilst simultaneously cracking down on infringements to State Law.

Check out the timeline for other landmark dates in the history of gambling in Michigan;

1933 – Betting on Horse Racing was legalized in Michigan. These days its possible to enjoy simulcast betting on other states and worldwide.

1972 – Michigan State Lottery begins.

1972 – “bingo Act’ makes charitable gambling legal under license.

1980’s – Indian Tribes begin to offer high-stakes Bingo Games on Tribal Land. The Tribal Casinos won a U.S. Supreme case for Tribal Gaming in 1987, and in 1988 the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, passed Congress, permitting casinos on Indian territory.

1993 – First Indian Casinos open in Michigan for electronic games only and not table games.

1994 – The Windsor Casino opened across the river in Canada and opened the eyes of Michigan residents to the potential revenue raising potential of legalized casino gambling.

1996 – Michigan residents narrowly vote to legalize casino gambling.

1998 – 4 More Michigan Tribes sign contracts to establish Tribal Casinos.

1999 – First land-based Casino in Detroit opens. Tribal Casinos win case to be granted Table Games Licenses as a result.

Fall 2018/Spring 2019? – Given Michigan’s State Legislature tabling a debate on online sports betting in fall 2018, it seems only a matter of time until legal online casinos and sports betting are available to its residents.



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