Michigan Bingo Halls and Online Games
Bingo’s heyday has long since passed, but the game is still played at hundreds of charity events and bingo halls, plus some tribal casinos across Michigan as well.
The game’s popularity peaked in the mid-1980s before the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act passed in 1988 and many tribal bingo halls across Michigan and the entire US turned themselves into casinos with Las Vegas-style gambling instead.
However, bingo games still run at several tribal casinos and hundreds of halls across the state taking advantage of Michigan’s charitable gaming laws that allow qualified nonprofit organizations to obtain charitable gaming licenses and host events.
With Michigan lawmakers passing online gambling legislation in 2019, online casinos are coming to Michigan, some of which will bring online bingo with them.
Read on to find out more about bingo in the Great Lakes State, the version of the game that is popular online and where you can still play bingo across the state.
Bingo and Michigan gambling laws
In 1972, Michigan lawmakers passed Act 382 creating rules to govern charity bingo games throughout the state.
The act defined bingo as a game where players purchase one or more cards divided into numbered squares and a caller randomly picks numbers from one to 75.
Players scan the cards to see if the called number is there and mark it off when it is. The first player to string together numbers in the winning bingo pattern, as set before the game starts, shouts out “bingo.” Once that card is verified, he or she collects a pre-set prize.
The law only allows qualified nonprofit organizations to obtain a Michigan charitable gaming license and conduct bingo games. However, Michigan charity bingo halls have been allowed to assist nonprofit organizations in obtaining licenses and running games.
There are three types of Michigan charitable gaming bingo licenses nonprofit organizations can obtain:
- Large Bingo License: Allows a licensee to conduct bingo one day per week with prize limits of $1,100 per game and $3,500 per session. Licensees can also run a Michigan Progressive Jackpot Bingo Game: This jackpot is not subject to the prize limits. Instead, progressive jackpots consist of the preceding session’s unclaimed jackpot and 50% of card sales for the Michigan progressive jackpot bingo game in the current session.
- Small Bingo License: Allows a licensee to conduct bingo one day per week with prize limits of $25 per game and $300 per session. Progressive jackpot bingo games cannot be played under the small bingo license.
- Special Bingo License: Allows a licensee to conduct bingo for up to seven consecutive days with prize limits of $1,100 per game and $3,500 per session. Nonprofit organizations can obtain up to four special bingo licenses per year. Michigan progressive jackpot bingo games cannot be played under this license.
Bingo without a license
The act also allows for bingo to be run without a license by senior citizens clubs, groups, or homes consisting of members who are 60 years old or above. As long as:
- Bingo is conducted for amusement and recreation only, not for fund-raising
- Only members, guests, and employees can play or operate the game
- No more than 25 cents is charged for cards
- The retail value of all prizes does not exceed $100 in a single day
- All revenue from bingo is used for prizes and reasonable expenses incurred in operating the game
- No person is compensated solely for playing or operating the game
Native American bingo
To solve economic problems on American Indian reservations several Michigan tribes opened large-scale bingo operations in the early 1980s.
By the mid-1980s many of these operations were converted into the full-scale tribal casinos that still operate to this day. A handful still run bingo operations without the same prize limits charity gaming licensees are subject to.
Bingo at Michigan online casinos
Michigan passed an online gambling bill in December 2019 making online casinos legal in the state, pending the creation of rules and a licensing process.
The licensing and rule-making processes are now underway. A draft of the rules was sent to various stakeholders in April 2020 and license applications were made available to Detroit’s three commercial casinos and 23 tribal casinos across the state in May.
The executive director of the Michigan Gaming Control Board has said the first Michigan online casinos could be live by November 2020 if certain aspects of Michigan’s rule-making process are expedited.
These operations could run online bingo games, provided the game is included in the rules governing online gambling in the state or operators ask the board to approve the game.
Free and real money online bingo
Just like many land-based casinos do, Michigan online casinos are likely to offer free bingo games where registered players can win real money.
Both brick-and-mortar and online casinos do this as a way to reward loyal players and draw them to the casino. However, the online games are often so large the chance of winning anything substantial is slim. Either the prize is split among too many players or you need to beat thousands of other players to claim it.
If you want a realistic shot at winning real money playing bingo online, stick to paid games where your chances of winning are significantly improved.
Slingo vs. Bingo: What’s the difference?
Slingo games are a type of video slot game you might find at a land-based or online casino in Michigan.
Slingo takes its name from bingo. However, Slingo games combine elements of traditional bingo, slots, and casino games.
There are several different Slingo games available at online and physical casinos, many of which also incorporate skill and decision-making into the gaming experience.
Playing Slingo is easy. The game involves taking a fixed number of spins, drawing five numbers each, before finding and marking off these numbers on a bingo-style card.
You can also draw wilds that allow you to check off numbers anywhere, give you additional free spins, and instant wins.
Your wins will be based on how many lines of Slingo you can mark off on the card, similar to how wins payout on a slot machine.
Slingo’s flagship games include Slingo Riches and Slingo Extreme.
Can I play online bingo in MI?
Right now you can’t play online bingo in Michigan, but that option may soon be available. Once online casinos have been licensed and begin to open, the rules may allow them to run online bingo.
Even if they do not, Michigan online casinos may ask for approval from the board to run online versions of bingo.
Online casinos in other states run online bingo, suggesting there is a chance Michigan could follow their lead.
How 90 ball bingo works
The type of bingo most US online casinos run is a “90 ball” version of the game.
While 90-ball bingo is similar to the standard 75-ball game typically found at bingo events, there are some differences.
To start, the game cards feature 27 squares in a three-row and nine-column grid. Each row has five squares filled with numbers and four blank spots. Each column will only feature numbers from one of nine batches.
The first column has numbers from one through nine, the second 10 through 19, and so on, up to 90.
Cards for this version are sold in groups of six called strips. Like traditional bingo, numbers are randomly-drawn and you try to string together these numbers on your card in the winning bingo pattern that was set before the start of the game. The blanks on each card are considered already filled.
You can win one of three ways playing 90-ball bingo:
- Any line: Be the first to get all five numbers in a row
- Two lines: Be the first to get all five numbers in two rows
- Full house: Be the first to get all five numbers in all three rows
The addition of 15 numbers and the different makeup of the card is the only difference between 90-ball bingo and the traditional game.
However, all occurrences of a number are automatically marked off on your strips when you play online, making it more like electronic bingo than traditional versions.
Michigan bingo halls
There are more than 300 bingo halls and tribal casinos that run games across the Wolverine State.
The following is a list of Michigan tribal casinos looking to launch online gambling operations that already run live bingo games:
Leelanau Sands Casino and Lodge
- Address: 2521 N. West Bay Shore Dr., Peshawbestown, MI
- Bingo: Wednesday through Friday starting at 5 p.m. ET
- Owner: Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians
- Online casino partner: William Hill
Four Winds Casino New Buffalo
- Address: 11111 Wilson Road, New Buffalo, Michigan
- Bingo: Occasional bingo promotions held in the event center
- Owner: Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians
- Online casino partner: Scientific Games
Firekeepers Casino and Hotel
- Address: 11177 E. Michigan Ave., Battle Creek, Michigan
- Bingo: Two sessions daily Thursday through Monday. Nine progressive jackpots and seasonal bingo promotions.
- Owner: Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi
- Online casino partner: Scientific Games
Northern Waters Casino Resort
- Address: N5384 US-45, Watersmeet, Michigan
- Bingo: Occasional bingo promotions
- Owner: Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians
- Online casino partner: PointsBet
Soaring Eagle Casino and Resort
- Address: 6800 Soaring Eagle Blvd., Isabella Indian Reservation, Mount Pleasant, Michigan
- Bingo: Wednesday through Sunday with two or three sessions per day and early-bird games. Plus, the Bingo Millions Coverall Add-On with the chance to win $1,000,000 with a coverall in 47 balls or less
- Owner: Saginaw Chippewa Tribal Nation
- Online casino partner: Aristocrat
Odawa Casino Resort
- Address: 1760 Lears Rd., Petoskey, Michigan
- Bingo: Every Thursday, Friday, and Sunday, two sessions per day beginning at 11 a.m. ET with Progressive jackpots that start at $1,000 and $2,500
- Owner: Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians
- Online casino partner :The Stars Group (PokerStars Casino)
Kewadin Casino Sault Ste. Marie
- Address: 2186 Shunk Rd., Sault Ste. Marie, MI
- Bingo: 200-seat bingo hall with progressive to two-part jackpot games Saturday afternoon and senior bingo at noon every Thursday.
- Owner: Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians
- Online casino partner: GAN
Wrapping up: Online bingo and bingo in Michigan
With more than 300 bingo halls and tribal casinos running games across the state, somebody forgot to tell Michigan the game’s popularity has been waning since the mid-1980s.
Live bingo is alive and well in the Great Lakes State and the first online casinos to offer the game over the internet are bound to have increased traffic as a result.
With live bingo games running at several tribal casinos that are planning to go online in late 2020 or early 2021, online bingo in Michigan is quite possibly set to take off.