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Online gambling is legal in Michigan. In December 2019, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed into law a large gaming expansion package consisting of bills authorizing online casinos, poker and sports betting.
The first MI online casinos are expected to launch sometime in 2020, but a firm timeline has not yet been given. The Michigan Gaming Control Board will announce more information as it adopts the various regulations and processes that will be needed to launch and monitor a safe, legal online gaming industry.
Soon, gamblers in Michigan will have access to online casinos that are safe, legal, licensed and regulated by the state. Under state law, gamblers 21 or older and located within state lines will be able to sign up, deposit and play online via desktop and mobile devices.
With online casinos coming soon to Michigan, we have put together this guide detailing everything you need to know. The remainder of this page will explain what to expect as the first MI gambling sites go live, how state law regulates online casinos and much more.
Licensed Michigan Online Casinos
Michigan’s upcoming online casinos will be regulated and licensed by the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB).
Under the new law, Detroit’s three commercial casinos and the state’s 23 tribal casinos may apply for licenses to launch up to two online gambling platforms each. Casinos with online gambling licenses may also partner with third-party operators for branding and management purposes.
What this means for Michigan gamblers is the stage is set for a lively and competitive gaming industry. With 26 land-based casinos each able to launch up to two online gambling platforms, there are plenty of potential slots for local, national and international gaming operators to offer their services in Michigan.
Even more importantly, Michigan players will be able to gamble online in a safe and regulated environment for the first time in state history. Licensed online casinos will be subject to strict regulations regarding financial accounting, customer data, fair gaming, prompt payouts and much more.
Big Names Coming to Michigan
Many of the big names that are active in other states such as New Jersey and Pennsylvania are likely to launch in Michigan at some point as well. Some of the more well-known online gambling brands to keep an eye out for include:
- PointsBet Casino (plans to launch an online casino and sportsbook in partnership with Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians)
- The Stars Group (plans to launch an online casino, poker site and sportsbook in partnership with Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians)
- Caesars Casino
- SugarHouse / Rivers
- DraftKings Casino
- Golden Nugget
- Betfair Casino
- Hollywood Casino
Some of Michigan’s bigger local casinos may also launch online gambling platforms under their own names. Don’t be surprised if we see any of the following announce their own self-branded casino sites as well:
- Motor City Casino
- Greektown Casino
- MGM Grand Detroit
- Four Winds Casino
- FireKeepers Casino
- Soaring Eagle Casino
The MGCB does not regulate tribal casinos, but it will oversee the conduct of all online gaming across the state.
Mobile Gambling Apps in Michigan
Michigan’s online casinos will almost undoubtedly launch mobile gambling apps to complement their desktop websites. Online casinos that have launched in other states (such as New Jersey and Pennsylvania) offer mobile apps for iOS and Android users, and we expect that trend to continue in Michigan.
State regulations will require all MI gambling apps to ensure customers are only able to access real money games from within state lines. This is accomplished through the use of geolocation technology that looks at customers’ IP addresses, Wi-Fi connections and other data to accurately pinpoint the physical location of every customer.
Accurate geolocation was a big problem in the early days of legal online gambling, but technology has improved significantly since then and should pose no issues for Michigan gamblers – even those living near state lines.
Most Popular Online Casinos
This is where we will soon rank the most popular online casinos in Michigan based on revenue and any other industry stats released by trusted sources. Nearly every state with legal online gambling releases revenue numbers every month, which we can use to quickly determine the most popular gaming sites.
Popularity is not the only factor one should consider when choosing where to play online, but the wisdom of the crowd is always worth keeping in mind. The worst online casinos in terms of game selection, software and other factors almost always rank near the bottom of the list in other states. For that reason alone, it is worth noting which casinos rank well and which do not.
Michigan is set to have a bustling online gaming industry thanks to laws allowing each land-based casino to launch up to two online gambling platforms, low licensing fees and a decent tax structure. As the industry matures, we will begin to get a clear picture of which online casinos are doing the best at attracting and keeping players.
Stay tuned for regular updates.
Michigan Casino Bonuses
Casino bonuses and other promotions are set to play a significant role in the developing online gaming industry. For one, Michigan will be an open market with room for plenty of operators who will compete heavily to gain a foothold. The number of online casinos expected to launch in Michigan will encourage bonuses and promotions galore.
We’ve already seen this play out in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, where casino bonuses are offered by every gambling site. Tax rates on online gambling in Michigan are a bit higher than in New Jersey but not as burdensome as in Pennsylvania, and both states are home to many promotions.
Additionally, the MI online gambling law actually allows operators to deduct free play promotions from gross gaming revenue for tax purposes. Page one of the Lawful Internet Gaming Act states online gaming providers may deduct free play promotions from taxable revenue for the first five years as follows:
- For years 1-3, operators may claim a free play deduction not to exceed 10% of gross receipts
- For year 4, operators may claim a free play deduction not to exceed 6% of gross receipts
- For year 5, operators may claim a free play deduction not to exceed 4% of gross receipts
- For year 6 and each year thereafter, no deduction of free play is allowed
To put that in plain English, MI gambling law will give online casinos a tax break for offering free play bonuses over the first five years.
The new Michigan online gambling law does not directly address deposits and withdrawals, but the MGCB is likely to tackle those topics as it forms regulations over the next few months. In all likelihood, MI gambling sites will be allowed to accept a standard range of deposit methods such as the following:
- Debit and credit cards
- Electronic bank transfers
- Wire transfers
- E-wallets such as PayPal, Skrill and Neteller
- Prepaid debit cards such as Play+
- Cash at the casino
Games Authorized by the MGCB
Michigan’s online casinos will be permitted to offer a full range of casino-style games plus player-vs-player poker and sports betting.
State gaming laws do not provide a definitive list of games online casinos may offer. Instead, Section 10 (a) of the Lawful Internet Gaming Act orders the MGCB to draw up a list of games that may be offered.
Among other duties, the MGCB is to draw up a list of “the types of internet games to be offered, which must include, but need not be limited to, poker, blackjack, cards, slots, and other games typically offered at a casino, but does not include pick numbers or other lottery games typically offered by the bureau of lottery.”
In all likelihood MI gambling sites will offer:
- Online slots
- Table games such as blackjack and baccarat
- Video poker
- Live dealer games
How Online Gambling is Regulated in Michigan
The Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) is responsible for regulating online gaming, issuing new regulations as needed, reviewing licensing requests, issuing licenses and overseeing the conduct of licensees.
The MI online gambling law is relatively light on regulations and instead directs the MGCB to adopt additional regulations as needed. Under the Lawful Internet Gaming Act, the MGCB is given authority to “do anything necessary or desirable to effectuate this act, including, but not limited to, all of the following:”
- Develop qualifications, standards and procedures for licensing online gaming providers and suppliers
- Make prompt decisions to approve, deny, suspend, revoke, restrict or refuse to renew online gaming licenses
- Conduct hearings related to violations of MI gaming laws and regulations
- Collect all taxes and fees
- Develop testing and auditing requirements for online gaming platforms
- Establish responsible gaming, player protection and privacy standards
- Develop a code of conduct for MGCB employees to avoid conflict of interest issues
- Establish civil fines for online gaming operators that violate MI gaming laws and regulations
- Audit online gaming providers
Additionally, the MGCB is ordered to adopt regulations governing, including, but not limited to, the following:
- The types of games that may be offered by MI online casinos
- Technical and financial standards for online gaming operators
- Requirements, standards and processes for issuing licenses under this act
This section will expand as the MGCB forms and releases the various regulations that will be used to govern the industry. In the meantime, the above bullet points offer a preview of the many aspects of online gaming the MGCB will be considering as it seeks to establish a safe and well-regulated industry.
Key Michigan Online Gambling Laws
Michigan approved multiple forms of online gambling in the final days of 2019. Our primary focus here is on the law legalizing online casinos, but lawmakers also approved online poker, sports betting and daily fantasy sports during that same flurry of activity.
The key online gambling laws in Michigan follow:
- HB 4311: The Lawful Internet Gaming Act (online casinos and poker)
- HB 4916: The Lawful Sports Betting Act (retail sportsbooks and mobile sports betting)
- HB 4308: The Fantasy Contests Consumer Protection Act (daily fantasy sports)
The Lawful Internet Gaming Act
The Lawful Internet Gaming Act was introduced in March 2019 by pro-gaming representative Brandt Iden as a means to legalize and regulate online gambling.
The Act slowly made its way through the Michigan legislature over the course of the year as it passed through various committees, received the approval of the House and then the approval of the Senate.
A similar effort had made it this far the previous year but was vetoed at the last minute by then-Governor Rick Snyder over problem gambling concerns and worries that legal online gambling would detract from the Michigan Lottery.
Lawmakers sought to avoid a similar outcome this time around and entered negotiations with Governor Gretchen Whitmer prior to approving a final version of the bill. Ultimately, pro-gaming lawmakers and Governor Whitmer compromised on tax rates and guaranteed funding for the School Aid Fund and First Responder Presumed Coverage Fund (assisting first responders who get cancer while on the job).
A Look Inside the Lawful Internet Gaming Act
The Lawful Internet Gaming Act legalizes and regulates online gambling across Michigan. Under the law, land-based casinos may apply for licenses to launch up to two online gambling platforms for traditional casino games and player-vs-player poker.
The Act also includes a handful of baseline regulations but directs the MGCB to adopt additional regulations as needed to handle the ins and outs of gaming regulation. See the “how online gambling is regulated” section above for more information on the duties of the MGCB.
Key Points of the Michigan Online Gambling Law
- Tribal and commercial casinos may apply for online gambling licenses to offer casino games and poker
- Each casino may launch up to two independent online gambling brands
- Casinos may partner with third party suppliers for software and branding purposes
- Sets a minimum age of 21 to gamble online in Michigan
- Casinos that wish to offer online gambling must pay a $50,000 initial application fee. This is followed by a successful licensing fee of $100,000 and an annual renewal fee of $50,000
- Third-party suppliers that provide technology and management services to casinos for online gaming must pay a $5,000 initial application fee. This is followed by a $5,000 successful licensing fee and an annual renewal fee of $2,500
Online gaming operators are taxed at the following rates based on annual adjusted gross receipts (AGR).
- AGR of less than $4 million: 20%
- AGR of $4 million or more but less than $8 million: 22%
- AGR of $8 million or more but less than $10 million: 24%
- AGR of $10 million or more but less than $12 million: 26%
- AGR of $12 million or more: 28%
- Cities may apply a municipal fee of 1.25% on the online gaming AGR of casinos located within that city that are authorized to conduct online gambling
Age and Identity Verification Rules
- Operators must ensure all customers are at least 21 or older and located within state lines
- Operators may not allow customers who are on the statewide responsible gaming database to establish an account or place wagers
Responsible Gaming Provisions
The Executive director of the MGCB may add users to the responsible gaming database who have:
- Been convicted in any jurisdiction of a felony, crime of moral turpitude or a crime involving gaming.
- Violated the Lawful Internet Gaming Act or another gaming-related law, or the individual
- Performed an act or “has a notorious or unsavory reputation such that the individual’s participation in internet gaming under this act would adversely affect public confidence and trust in internet gaming”
- Appeared on a valid and current exclusion list maintained by Michigan or another jurisdiction in the United States
Additionally, users may voluntarily add themselves to the responsible gaming database.
Crime and Punishment
Individuals who offer online gambling in Michigan without being properly licensed are subject to a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison, a fine of up to $100,000 or both.
Individuals who commit the following offenses are guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year’s imprisonment or a $10,000 fine:
- Knowingly make a false statement on a licensing application issued under the Lawful Internet Gaming Act
- Knowingly provide false testimony to the MGCB or an authorized representative of the MGCB while under oath
- Willfully fail to report, pay or truthfully account for any license, fee or payment imposed by the MGCB
- Knowingly attempt to cheat, alter or manipulate any game, platform, equipment, hardware, devices or supplies used to conduct online gambling
- Open or use an online gambling account while under 21 or providing access to an online gambling account to an individual under 21
- Defraud or attempt to defraud an online gambling operator to take an amount of money greater than the amount won
Problem Gambling Resources in Michigan
Those who would like information about problem gambling or who believe they or someone they know may have a gambling problem can see the following resources for assistance.
- Michigan Gambling Helpline: 1-800-270-7117 (available 24/7)
- Voluntary Self Exclusion Forms: Use these forms to request the MGCB permanently bar entry to licensed Detroit casinos.
- Gamblers Anonymous: National problem gambling group that holds frequent meetings all across Michigan
- National Council on Problem Gambling: National problem gambling help provider; offers anonymous 24/7 help at 1-800-522-4700 (call or text) and live chat.
- Michigan Association on Problem Gambling (MAPG): A non-profit organization funded by donations, grants and membership fees; works in coordination with commercial casinos, tribal casinos, lotteries and horse racing facilities.
- List of Gambling Treatment Providers by County: Get local help by finding a problem gambling treatment provider in your area.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services also maintains a database of problem gambling help resources here.
Michigan Online Gambling Frequently Asked Questions
What is the minimum age to play online in Michigan?
Michigan law sets the minimum age to play online in Michigan at 21.
What is geolocation and why is it required?
Geolocation is the technology used by online gaming providers to accurately determine a user’s physical location.
A combination of factors requires licensed gambling operators to restrict their operations within state lines. Online gambling is not regulated at the state level; it is regulated on a state-by-state basis. Additionally, there are concerns that the Federal Wire Act applies to online gambling to prohibit any wagers from crossing state lines.
Do I have to be a Michigan resident to play online?
No. You do not need to be a resident to play online in Michigan. You only need to be physically located within state lines and at least 21 years of age. Customers from bordering states may sign up for accounts and then play online whenever they visit Michigan. Geolocation technology prevents players from accessing real money games from outside the state.
Why am I being asked to provide my social security number?
Michigan law requires all gambling operators to verify the age and identity of every customer. This is accomplished by running each player’s account information against government and private databases, some of which require the last four digits of each user’s social security number. State law also requires operators to have systems in place designed to protect all confidential customer information.
Why was my credit card deposit rejected?
If you have problems depositing with a credit or debit card to any MI online casino and are certain you have money in your account, the issue is probably related to policies enacted by your bank.
Some banks still have policies in place to automatically decline all transactions related to online gambling or sports betting. Many of these policies were enacted prior to the widespread legalization of online gaming in the USA but remain in place either out of an abundance of caution or due to concerns of chargebacks.
Gamblers who have problems depositing with a credit or debit card can instead try an ACH bank transfer, PayPal or other deposit method accepted by licensed gaming sites. These other options have very high acceptance rates and work just as quickly as credit/debit card deposits.
When were land-based casinos legalized in Michigan?
The first casinos came to Michigan in 1993 through gaming compacts reached between the state and Indian tribes in 1993.