Online Gambling For Real Money in Michigan

Michigan has come a long way since the days when all they had to offer was betting on horses, the lottery, and charitable bingo. What made Nevada such a huge gambling hub over all these years is their acceptance toward it, where promoting more of this was seen as a big plus for the state, which it certainly ended up becoming. Michigan of late has shown this same kind of willingness and are really on their way to seeing gambling really grow in this state now.

When people think of big gambling states, Michigan doesn’t usually come up, but Michigan has now become one of the most exciting states in the country as far as gambling opportunities go, where a land based casino is in easy reach of everyone no matter what part of the state you live in.

Now that they are getting ready to add online gambling, not just sports betting like many states are looking to do, not just online poker like California and other states have been mulling over for years, but real money online casino gambling as well, the full meal deal, this changes everything. Take a tour of Michigan’s current gambling scene and see for yourself why so many people are so excited about Michigan gambling now.

History of Gambling in Michigan

Michigan Online Casinos and SlotsLegal gambling first came to Michigan with the passing of the Racing Act of 1933 which allowed Michiganders to bet on horse races. This was a time where horse racing started to really grow in the country and Michigan got in on this game fairly early. For almost 40 years, this was the only legal way to gamble in Michigan,

This was just the first step in what has been a progression of new gaming options which continues to this day. In the early 70’s, progressive states started adding a state lottery to their offerings and Michigan was once again in the lead pack. This was an opportunity to take the pulse of voters to measure their attitude toward gambling, and in a 1972 state-wide referendum, the public voted 2 to 1 to amend the state constitution and add a lottery. Along with the lottery, 1972 also saw the legalization of charitable bingo halls in Michigan.

The next big change was in 1993, when Michigan’s first casino was built by the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe, who reached a compact with the state where the tribe agreed to share a portion of its earnings with the state. A total of 11 compacts were reached with the state’s 11 tribes, who now operate a total of 25 tribal casinos located throughout the state.

A lot of states have Indian casinos which are regulated federally, but have chosen not to license and regulate casinos on non-tribal land. Michigan has not stood by watching these tribal casinos have it all to themselves for decades like in some other states, and in 1996, a bill was approved to allow for 3 commercial casinos to be built in Detroit.

This was a real compliment to the rural tribal casinos in the state, to have 3 large ones set up in the state’s urban area, where the 4.3 million people of Metro Detroit no longer have to travel outside the area to enjoy Vegas style casino gambling. There is a fourth large casino directly across the river from Detroit in Windsor, Canada which also attracts a lot of Detroit casino players.

Given that Michigan has been pretty well taken care of with a total of 28 casinos in the state, the only thing missing was online gambling. Only 4 states offer regulated online casino, poker, and sports betting, with several more discussing it, but Michigan has done more than just talk about this. In 2019, the state government passed a bill to bring all three major forms of online gambling to Michigan in 2021.

Michigan now welcomes gamblers of all sorts with open arms. They are down to 2 operating horse racing tracks, down from the 8 they had at one time, but they have added so much more over the years and even more is on the way.

Michigan Gambling Laws

Even the most liberal states, and Michigan is definitely among them, have anti-gambling legislation. Even in states that allow everything still need to have whatever gambling that is permitted offered under their own terms, where you have to play by their rules to offer it. If you don’t, that’s where the law comes in.

Michigan gambling law is one of the most interesting in the country, and is certainly in need of an update. Michigan doesn’t have a problem with their people gambling, it’s winning that they make a crime:

Any person who by playing at cards, dice, or any other game, or by betting or putting up money on cards, or by any other means or device in the nature of betting on cards, or betting of any kind, wins or obtains any sum of money or any goods, or any article of value whatever, is guilty of a misdemeanor if the money, goods, or articles so won or obtained are of the value of not more than $50.00. If the money, goods, or articles so won or obtained are of the value of more than $50.00, the person is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than 1 year or a fine of not more than $1,000.00.

This is pretty unclear as far as whether this refers to net winnings or not. If you lose 10 bets in a row and then finally win one, have you won money playing? If not, and you are having a winning session, are you allowed to calculate in prior losing sessions to decide if you have “won” money or not betting? Perhaps winning once would be enough to break this law, but it turns out that this is a moot point when we look at other provisions in the law, where it is also against the law to merely “attend or frequent a place where gambling or gaming is suffered or permitted.” This provision is clearly broader and whether you win or not isn’t an issue, or even if you bet, as just being there is enough for you to run afoul of Michigan’s gambling laws.

It’s not that the first provision doesn’t have any applicability though, if we are to interpret being in a place where gaming is suffered to mean an establishment that is set up for that specific purpose, which may exclude online gambling which is played in private, unless you wanted to argue that wherever you may be gambling on your phone is a place where gambling is “suffered,” which suggests it is at least tolerated, which requires a general awareness of it first. However, given that “betting of any kind” is illegal if you win money, you could technically be charged the first time you won anything from any bet whatsoever while residing in Michigan.

This law bans gambling about as well as you could, apart from its very awkward focus on winnings, and there’s nothing in this law that would even suggest that this is a liberal gambling state. The message here though cashes out to you can’t gamble at anything without the state’s permission, although they are now as eager as any state to give you that permission.

Land-Based Gambling in Michigan

Michigan gambling was not that long ago limited to the standard fare, a couple of pari-mutuel horse racing tracks, the lottery, and charitable bingo. The coming of Indian casinos changed all that. Some states do not have any federally regulated tribes, some have a few, Michigan has 11, which is a lot. This doesn’t contend with California’s massive number of tribal casinos, but Michigan’s 25 of them places them near the top.

Some of Michigan’s 11 tribes only operate one casino, but some have as many as 5. Most of these Indian casinos are located in the northern part of the state, well away from Detroit which is in the southeast corner of Michigan. While these tribal casinos may be located in some pretty out of the way places, with most of them being on the small side and catering to small markets, there are a few pretty big ones as well, with the 3 largest casinos in the state located on Indian land.

The Soaring Eagle in Mt. Pleasant, for instance, has 200,000 square feet of gaming space. It offers a massive amount of slots and table games including an 18 table dedicated poker room. The Four Winds in New Buffalo boasts 130,000 square feet of casino floor including 3,000 slot machines, 60 table games, 415 rooms, and a Hard Rock Café. The FireKeepers Casino and Hotel in Battle Creek has 107,000 square feet of gambling space, including 2,900 slot machines and 76 table games, as well as a 243 room hotel.

Michigan did not want the people of Detroit to miss out or having to trek all over the state to find the gambling that they need. It turned out that the building of the Caesar’s Windsor Casino across the river from Detroit, in Canada, forced Michigan’s hand. The year after it was completed, in 1999, two similar sized casinos opened in Detroit, with a third added a year later.

All four of these Detroit area casinos all feature 100,000 square feet of gaming space, but these casinos are as close as you will get to a top end Vegas casino without needing to go to Vegas. The MGM Grand Detroit boasts 401 rooms and 30,000 square feet of meeting space. The futuristic MotorCity Casino Hotel has 400 rooms and features a 2,400 seat theater. The 30 story Greektown Casino also has 400 rooms, and was opened by the Chippewa Indians but was later sold to Penn National Gaming who currently operate it.

All in all, the state of Michigan has an impressive array of land-based gambling, and while there may be still room to grow, this state has done a fine job already of allowing their people to gamble, and it’s about to get a whole lot better.

Michigan Online Casinos & Slots Gambling

Real money online gambling is nothing new to residents of Michigan or new to people in any state, as people around the country have been gambling online ever since online gambling started. Most states, the ones that don’t regulate online gambling, want you to think that you can’t gamble online for this reason, but players do not need their state sanctioning online gambling sites because there’s just so many other jurisdictions that are happy to do it.

The internet has removed the element of space from gambling and anyone with access to the internet and a little money to stake can easily avail themselves of some of the best real money online gambling the world has to offer. While the UIGEA scared off many of the best known casinos, many of these online casinos refused to buckle and have been serving Americans, including Michiganders, all this time.

Those who do not want to wait for Michigan sanctioned online gambling don’t have to, even though online gambling in Michigan is now in sight. There are several great sites that we recommend based upon overall merit that anyone in Michigan who is up for it can start enjoying right now if they please.

Michigan being set to join Nevada, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware in having state regulated online gambling is big news though. Michigan Governor Gretchen Witmer signed an online gambling bill into law in 2019, and all that needs to happen to make this dream come to life is to wait until all the details are worked out and this market opens.

Online sports betting is expected to hit the internet first, but unlike some states, Michigan isn’t stopping there and have gone all-in with real money online gambling, with online sports betting, online casino sites, and online poker all expected to make their debut in 2021.

Michigan will become the second most populous state in the country to offer a full card of online gambling, second only to Pennsylvania. Both are far bigger markets than Nevada, and bigger than New Jersey as well, so the potential in Michigan for online gambling is pretty big indeed.

Players will no longer have to rely on off the beaten track deposit and withdrawal methods such as Western Union or Bitcoin, although Bitcoin has indeed made things a whole lot easier for those who wish to play on sites regulated offshore. The biggest change though will be the word getting out completely about being able to do this while in Michigan, with much of the gambling public being unaware that they could have been doing this all along.

Future of Gambling in Michigan

It is generally a very easy task to show how a state may improve its gambling offerings, as only Nevada can really boast that they are serving their market well. However, Michigan is getting close, and it’s not just the number of casinos that they have, it’s the fact that all parts of the state are well served, including Detroit. Perhaps this market could stand a few more land-based casinos, but once Michigan gets real money online sports betting, casino, and poker up and running, there’s not that much to do as far as serving the domestic market in the state anyway.

The biggest potential at this point would be for Detroit to try to be more like Las Vegas and Atlantic City and go after gambling tourism more. While they will probably never catch Las Vegas as far as the number of casinos they have, they could probably come closer if the state develops an appetite for this.

This would require more than just building more casinos with the expectation that this will be enough to make them profitable, as this would require a real effort to promote the growth in tourism that would be required, but there just aren’t cities of 4 million people that have much as far as casinos go, and there’s a whole lot more people within fairly easy distance, especially those in Chicago who don’t really have any real luxury options like Detroit has now. More of this could be a hit with the right promotion.

Michigan has done a fine job already though and not only does the future look bright for gambling in this state, the present is starting to look pretty bright now as well.

Michigan Online Slots & Casinos FAQs
  • What sort of gambling is prohibited in Michigan?

    Michigan’s anti-gambling laws are pretty unusual, where it’s presumably OK to gamble as long as you lose. Winning money gambling is a crime though, but the law doesn’t define what qualifies as winning. Just being present anywhere gambling is promoted or tolerated is a crime as well, but framing it this way excludes locations where gambling is known publicly to occur, and would not include online gambling. However, depending on what it means to win, online gambling could be considered illegal if players win money according to whatever meaning the courts understand winning to have.

  • Why would a state where gambling is so accepted need to prohibit most or all of it?

    While a government like the state of Michigan may be completely open to gambling going on within its borders, they also need to exert a measure of control over what gambling does occur. This is one of the reasons why states license and regulate gambling, apart from this giving them the means to track and tax it. The thinking here is that they wish to protect gamblers to an acceptable degree, and this requires that only gambling they approve is deemed legal and permissible.

  • How progressive has Michigan been towards gambling historically?

    While Michigan is currently one of the most progressive states in the country toward gambling, they have been more open toward it than most states for a very long time. Michigan has chosen to follow fashionable trends though, where at least several states are already on board, unlike the Nevada experiment where Nevada went it alone. Michigan got into horse race betting when it started to come into fashion, and did the same with their state lottery. Michigan has remained well in style in this regard.

  • How did Michigan respond to the coming of the Indian casinos?

    The Supreme Court decision that led to the changing of the way Indian land was governed, turning it over to the federal government to decide these things, was met with considerable resistance in states that opposed gambling. Many still do and see tribal casinos in their states as unfortunate. Michigan not only tolerated the many tribal casinos that popped up in their state, they immediately jumped in and approved 3 non-tribal casinos on their own, all in the city of Detroit which lacked coverage by tribal gaming.

  • What land-based gambling options does Michigan now have?

    Betting on the horses used to be the only way to gamble in Michigan for quite a long time, and while this industry has declined since its glory days when it was the only game in town, there still are a couple of surviving tracks that people can gamble at. The lottery and charitable bingo have been around since 1972, and for the last couple of decades, Michigan has also had real money casino gambling. There are 25 tribal casinos from small to large scattered around the state, and Detroit has 3 luxury casinos of their own to tempt gamblers with.

  • Do Michigan casinos have a full range of real money gambling options?

    All casinos have slot and video gaming machines, although some casinos elsewhere in the country are limited to these options and bingo. This is not the case at all in Michigan where casinos hit the ground running with not only gaming machines but Vegas style real money table games like blackjack, roulette, craps, and baccarat, among others. Some Michigan casinos also offer live poker rooms, and some have started to offer sports betting at their casinos, which is now legal in Michigan.

  • How is Michigan approaching this new wave of sports betting going around the country?

    Sports betting, including online sports betting, has really become in style lately, after the federal government backed down on their threats to try to oppose new states adding this gambling option. Michigan is one of the states that hasn’t just talked about it, their talk has led to real action, where sports betting is now legal in the state. This has allowed Michigan casinos to now offer a full slate of land-based gambling options, as well as soon being able to offer it online.

  • Where does Michigan stand on online poker and online casino gambling?

    The bill that was signed into law in Michigan in 2019 that allowed for both land-based and online sports betting just didn’t stop there, as has been the norm with other states that have jumped on the sports betting bandwagon lately. This bill also permits regulated real money online poker and casino games, and Michigan is currently getting ready for all three major forms of online gambling to be rolled out, which is expected to all happen in 2021.

  • Is this the first opportunity Michigan gamblers will have to play online?

    Online gambling has penetrated the entire world, which includes Michigan, where anyone with an internet connection has been able to gamble at real money online sites since online gambling began back in the 1990’s. It is a complete myth that you can only gamble online if the jurisdiction in which you reside regulates and sanctions it, although governments hope that people believe this and refrain. There are lots of online gambling sites out there that are well regulated elsewhere and are happy to take people from Michigan.

  • Are players in Michigan limited to just domestic sites once they arrive?

    Even when Michigan does get these online gambling sites up and running, there’s still nothing stopping people from playing at online sites regulated offshore. The sites and countries involved are not at all subject to foreign laws such as Michigan’s, and whether or not a state makes it illegal to play turns out to be a moot point because such a law is not enforceable. As long as there are online sites that will accept you, you can play there regardless.

Associate Writer: Simon loves to bet on sports as well as play online slots, and he has a keen eye for sorting out the honest sites from the not so honest.

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