With almost 10 million people, Michigan is the second-most populous state offering real money online poker and casino gambling. For those looking to place some bets or play some cards without a trip to the local casino, Michigan is a great place to be.
After launching online casino earlier the same month, Michigan became the fifth state in the US with legal online poker after launching officially on Jan. 29, 2021
This guide offers everything you need to know about online poker and gambling in Michigan. You’ll find all the information necessary to start an account, make a deposit and qualify for some exclusive bonus offers. Whether you’re looking for some poker action or maybe some slots and table games, this review offers you plenty of information on getting started.
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Last Updated: June 15, 2021
Michigan online poker launch update
Poker players in Michigan received some big news on Jan. 29, 2021. The Michigan Gaming Control Board announced that PokerStars would go officially launch that day.
The Michigan Gaming Control Board had earlier approved some popular online poker and casino platforms. They started rolling out in January 2021, with online casinos (and sportsbooks) debuting first and poker shortly behind.
BetMGM became the second online poker site to go live in Michigan on March 22, 2021.
A look at Michigan online poker laws
The state’s online poker rules allow for regulation of the industry by the Michigan Gaming Control Board. The board was charged with establishing a division of internet gambling, which would create rules and regulation for the industry.
As part of the law, any online gambling is run through current legal casino operations in the state. Outside vendors and platforms are allowed to partner with casinos and other gambling operations.
That mimics the system in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. In Michigan, an “internet gambling platform provider” license costs $100,000. There’s also a $50,000 application fee with an annual renewal fee of $50,000. As part of the legislation, tribal properties can amend their compacts to allow internet gambling.
Under state regulations, the three commercial and 23 tribal casinos’ internet gambling operations will be taxed on a tiered structure at between 20% and 28%.
Additionally, the legislation allowed for the governor to enter into interstate compacts and shared liquidity should the legal issues related to the Wire Act be resolved.
That resolution came in January 2021 when a federal appeals court ruled that the act applies only to sports betting.That paves the way for expanded interstate compacts and shared liquidity.
For Michigan, that could mean joining other states eventually for larger prize and player pools. That won’t be immediate but offers some momentum for the US online poker industry.
Legally approved online poker sites in Michigan
The sites to gain approval in Michigan included BetMGM/Roar Digital and TSG Interactive. Roar is the overarching gambling partnership between MGM and Entain (formerly known as GVC Holdings). Entain/GVC is the owner of partypoker US Network, which also operates in New Jersey and has been approved in Pennsylvania (although it had yet to launch there as of January 2021)
TSG is The Stars Group, a division of parent company Flutter Entertainment, which owns online gambling operations around the world. That includes the PokerStars brand internationally and in the US as well as the Fox Bet sports wagering and casino platform.
The online platform of the World Series of Poker, WSOP.com, and its software partner hadn’t been approved yet, but that seems likely at some point. WSOP.com/888poker operate the country’s only shared liquidity market among Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware.
These represent the three major players in the US regulated online poker industry. Rush Street Interactive has been approved for online gambling, and poker legend Phil Hellmuth, an investor in the company, told USPoker in 2020 that he’s been told the company will be branching out into poker.
Parx Interactive is another interesting company to win approval in Michigan. The company doesn’t currently offer online poker, but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t happen. The company’s live casino in Philadelphia has a lively poker scene with numerous major tournament series throughout the year.
Casino gambling operations approved
Along with online poker platforms, several online casino and sports betting platforms also gained approval. As noted above, BetMGM/Roar Digital and PokerStars have been approved and would offer sports betting and casino gambling as part of their brands in the state.
Here’s a look at some of the others that received provisional approval and are expected to launch in the Michigan market.
- American Wagering, Inc. (William Hill Sports Book)
- Betfair Interactive US (FanDuel Sportsbook)
- Churchill Downs Interactive Gaming (TwinSpires)
- Crown MI Gaming (DraftKings)
- Golden Nugget Online Gaming, Inc.
- Parx Interactive
- Penn Sports Interactive
- PointsBet Michigan
- Rush Street Interactive MI
- Sports Information Services Limited (Kambi sports betting service)
- WSI US (Wynn Sports)
Those are some heavy hitters in the online gambling industry, and Michigan gamblers look to have plenty of options to choose from once some of these go live.
Where can you play online poker for real money in Michigan?
As of March 2021, BetMGM Poker has joined the first poker site to launch, PokerStars, to now offer up two real money online poker sites in Michigan. Others may also be getting close. Here’s a quick look at some of those options and what to expect.
The Stars Group officially launched its award-winning poker software on Jan. 20, 2021. The site is a “ringed-in” option so far in the state, meaning players only play with others in the state. The company also operates “ringed-in” games in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
PokerStars offers an excellent software platform with plenty of cash games and tournaments. In Pennsylvania, the site remained the only option since launching in November 2019.
PokerStars was the first online poker operator to announce a partnership with a Michigan casino. The company announced a deal with the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians in January 2020. The tribe operates three casinos in the state.
The company also became the first online poker site to officially go live in Michigan. WSOP.com and partypoker/BetMGM have yet to launch in PA, so PokerStars beat them to the market in the Wolverine State, as well.
Players can look for PokerStars favorites like the Bounty Builder Series, Micro Series and the Spring Championship of Online Poker (SCOOP) as well as some great promotions.
BetMGM Poker, which uses the partypoker software platform, officially launched in Michigan on March 22nd, 2021.
partypoker/Roar Digital has been keen to expand in US regulated markets, and its launch in Michigan is likely a sign of things to come for other licensed states. The company partners with MGM Resorts in Michigan, which owns the MGM Grand Detroit.
Partypoker/MGM currently offers online poker in New Jersey, Pennsylvanua and Michigan, although, you’ll only find all three skins in NJ:
Players can expect a nice poker experience and some big-name tournament series. That includes events partnered with the World Poker Tour. In December 2020 that included a WPT Main Tour championship in NJ, allowing a winner to earn a tour title as if that player had won a live tournament.
That player also snagged a $15,000 entry in the WPT Tournament of Champions, the distinctive Hublot watch awarded to the tour’s winners, and Player of the Year points. Players in Michigan can expect similar efforts as partypoker looks to grow its market share and the WPT continue expanding into online poker.
The World Series of Poker’s online offering, WSOP.com, remains the largest online poker network in the country. As noted, the site makes use of 888poker’s software and partners with the site.
WSOP.com pools players in Nevada and New Jersey for many events, cash games, sit and go’s, etc. 888 also operates the online poker and gambling operations in Delaware, also a part of the WSOP.com network, partnering with the state’s three casinos.
When the site does go live, Michigan players will find regular cash game and tournament action, including major series like the WSOP Online Circuit events, which award championship rings.
Players will also be able to play online bracelet events just as if they were playing in the live WSOP each summer in Las Vegas. The site runs these events each summer, and that expanded greatly in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The site also regularly offers WSOP Online Circuit series. These events allow players to win a championship ring just as in a live circuit event. Players will find plenty of nice options when WSOP.com launches in Michigan.
Sweepstakes poker in Michigan — Global Poker
Until a traditional regulated site launches, players in the Wolverine State may want to check out Global Poker. This is a sweepstakes poker site that’s legal to players in the US and Canada (except for Washington state and Quebec). It also allows players to exchange winnings for real cash prizes.
The site isn’t a traditional online poker site, but instead makes use of sweepstakes laws. Players on the site use a free virtual currency called Gold Coins to play ring games, sit and go’s and tournaments.
Gold Coin games are free to play but don’t offer cash prizes. However, a player buying additional Gold Coins receives free Sweeps Coins as a bonus. You can use these as entry tokens into separate ring games, tournaments and sit and go’s.
You can redeem Sweeps Coins that you win for real cash prizes and gift cards. The site has grown considerably in recent years and now has more than 1 million users. Players will find mostly Texas Hold’em and Pot Limit Omaha, with a large player pool making it pretty easy to find action.
The site hosts major tournament series and regular daily and weekly tournaments. With more players getting in the action in 2020 and 2021, those payouts continue to swell.
Global Poker was founded in 2016 by the Australian publicly traded company VGW Holdings. The company is regulated by the Malta Gaming Authority, and players will find a secure environment regarding coins purchased and their personal information.
VGW also runs two sweepstake sites with casino games — LuckyLand Slots and Chumba Casino. These sites are also available to most US and Canadian players and make use of the Gold Coin/Sweeps Coin setup.
How big is the online poker market in Michigan?
Michigan could be a great addition to the regulated US online poker market. With 10 million people, the state has a considerable population and would become the country’s second most populous online poker state behind Pennsylvania.
The state also has a considerable poker scene, with several legal live poker rooms. The state has even produced some poker heavyweights.
That includes two WSOP Main Event winners — Joe Cada in 2009 for $8.5 million and Ryan Riess in 2013 for $8.4 million. Longtime poker pro, streamer and partypoker ambassador Jeff Gross also grew up in Ann Arbor.
Poker operators would find a nice market in Michigan. Its inclusion with other states would greatly enhance any shared liquidity markets since the Wire Act issue has now been clarified as noted earlier.
The Department of Justice has argued that the act applies to all forms of online gambling and not just sports betting. The issue remained tied up in federal appeals court as of January 2021, with the first ruling coming down in the favor of the gambling industry.
How to deposit and play real money online poker in Michigan
As of January 2021, online poker and online casino gambling had both officially launched in Michigan. Players will find the process to sign up and deposit similar to other states.
Players can quickly set up and fund an account from anywhere. That means you’ll also be able to qualify for the deposit bonuses you’ll find here when a site does become live. These offers could give you hundreds of free dollars to play some of your favorite games.
After downloading an app or poker software, each site will ask for some basic information to set up an account:
You’ll then be ready to get in the action whether you’re playing for free or want to make a deposit and play for real money.
Depositing is also a simple and quick process. Legal sites must undergo similar scrutiny to land-based casinos. Players can expect that their funds and personal information will be safe. When ready to make a deposit, you will find trusted financial firms to use and transfer funds to your newly created account:
- E-check bank payments (ACH transfers)
- Wire payments
- E-wallets such as Neteller
- Cash at partner casinos
Some sites also offer no deposit bonuses, meaning a player will receive some free cash simply for creating an account. These allow for a player to check out a site and play on house money.
Where can I play live poker in Michigan?
Players in MI will find a vibrant live poker community — at least prior to the coronavirus pandemic. Here’s a look at some of the state’s options to hit the tables.
- MGM Grand (Detroit) — This high-end poker room features 17 tables in a relaxed atmosphere.
- MotorCity Casino (Detroit) — Take a seat at one of 17 tables with nice daily tournaments, cash games and comps.
- Soaring Eagle Casino (Mount Pleasant) — This property offers 14 tables and numerous regular promotions.
- FireKeepers Casino (Battle Creek) — The 26-table room was recently renovated and features a friendly atmosphere.
- Gun Lake Casino (Wayland) — The 14-table room in western Michigan earns excellent reviews and has big action on weekends.
- Greektown Casino (Detroit) — Another great Motown option with 12 tables.
History of online poker and casino gambling in Michigan
Michigan offers plenty of casino and gambling opportunities at three commercial casinos in the Detroit area and 23 tribal casinos throughout the state. The state also allows pari-mutuel wagering, although Northville Downs, located in the city of Northville, remains the only track still in operation.
Michigan also operates a state lottery, which was the first gambling entity in the state to begin offering online options in 2014. More than 300,000 tickets were being sold online daily by mid-2015
That success may have been a sign of things to come. State Sen. Mike Kowall introduced the Lawful Internet Gaming Act in April 2016. The bill would have legalized and regulated online poker and casino gambling with up to eight licenses for Michigan-based commercial and tribal casinos, but it went nowhere and died in committee.
However, efforts continued in the coming years and the state House and Senate passed another bill in 2018, and approval by the governor seemed likely. But it was back to the drawing board when then-Gov. Rick Snyder vetoed the legislation.
A year later, legislators were back at it, and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed legislation legalizing online poker, casino gambling and sports betting, making Michigan the sixth state to legalize online gambling or poker.
Online poker officially got underway in the state with the launch of PokerStars on Jan. 29, 2021.
Online poker’s Black Friday
Online poker in the US took a major turn on April 15, 2011. Federal authorities shut down online poker as most Americans had known it up until that point.
Players were locked out of international operators like PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker and no longer able to play (at least legally) on these international poker sites. The companies also had numerous bank accounts around the country frozen.
Federal authorities argued that online operators were violating the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act, which was passed in 2006. Some operators, such as partypoker, left the market when the law went into effect. However, others chose to stay.
Full Tilt Poker went into a financial tailspin following the shutdowns, with feds charging the company in connection with a pyramid scheme in which owners had been tapping into player funds for personal and business use.
PokerStars eventually reached an agreement to pay the government hundreds of millions of dollars to pay back players who were owed money. The company absorbed Full Tilt as part of the deal.
However, online poker returned on a state-by-state basis in 2013 after a Department of Justice opinion clarified issues related to the Wire Act. Three states legalized online poker in 2013 — Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware.
Frequently asked questions
Are online poker and casino gambling legal in Michigan?
Yes, the state legalized online poker, gambling, and sports betting in 2019. In January 2021, online poker, sports betting, and casino gaming had all launched in the state.
How old do you have to be to play?
Players must be 21. That includes at online sites partnered with either a commercial or tribal casino.
Can I play real money online poker with other players around the world and in other regulated states like New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Nevada and Delaware?
Michigan remains a “fenced-in” market, and you can only play with others within the state.
Are deposit bonuses available for those playing real-money online poker or casino gambling?
Online poker and online gaming platforms had launched as of January 2021. Online gambling sites generally offer some nice bonuses for new players, including in the form of deposit bonuses offering to match new players’ first deposits up to a set amount.
Some sites even offer free funds for simply creating an account, known as no deposit bonuses. These bonuses are like “free play” for regular live casino customers, who can use them to win real money.
PokerScout will have exclusive online casino and poker bonuses when these sites go live. Check back here to see what’s available.