Michigan Online Casinos

Launch dates and online casino news

Whether you live in the Upper Peninsula or Lower Peninsula, you’re about to have a casino nearby. Michigan online casinos are set to launch in a matter of weeks, and you’ll have several great options in the palm of your hand.

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For anyone who has been keeping up with the progress of online gambling in Michigan, the impending launch is the culmination of nearly a year of regulatory and operator work. Since Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed the bill to bring online casinos (and sports betting and online poker) to the state in December 2019, there have been many ducks to get into a row.

The good news is that Michiganders should have a wealth of opportunities in front of them. The better news is that we will have all the details on which casinos are expected to launch, bonus offers for new players, and how to play online.

Latest casino updates

Last updated: Nov. 25, 2020

When will Michigan online casinos launch? That date is an unknown but most estimates lean toward late December or even early 2021. You can follow our live updates on launch plans here.

That being said, things are still moving forward. High 5 Games and other online gambling suppliers and vendors are slowly being provisionally licensed by the Michigan Gaming Control Board. Operators, however, cannot be licensed until after the rules have been approved by the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules in Lansing.

Among the vendors given conditional approval is GeoComply. The company is the backbone for how online casinos in Michigan will operate only within the state borders.

Online casinos are in a holding pattern, but the state legislature is scheduled to meet Dec. 1-3. The potential for forward progress is there.

Michigan online casino launch dates

Obviously, the big question on everyone’s mind is the date of the launch itself. While we don’t have a definite day and time for the debut, we do have a pretty good idea about it.

The Michigan Gaming Control Board still expects launch sometime in late fall 2020. Given the fact that the board has encouraged regulators and operators to move forward as quickly as possible, online casino arrivals in December still seems possible.

Even if 2020 rolls by without a launch, the possibility of an early 2021 looms large for Michigan casino players. Due to the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting lockdown, almost everyone is committed to an online casino debut as soon as possible.

Which online casinos will be the first to launch?

We don’t know for sure which operator will be the first to cut its virtual ribbon. However, we do have a pretty good idea about which online casinos will comprise the first wave to offer games to Michiganders through their phones and computers.

Michigan law requires that online casino operators partner with an existing land-based casino in Michigan in order to enter into business in the state. Several operators have already developed those relationships, which indicates that they plan to come to Michigan at some point.

Of those companies, there are several that have proven to be early adopters in other states with online casinos, so it’s a pretty good bet that they will repeat the same pattern in Michigan.

Finally, we’ve also heard statements from some of these companies that they are planning to launch in Michigan at some point, so that’s a pretty big hint that they are not going to be waiting around.

Long story short, here is a list of the major online casino operators that have partnered with Michigan casinos in Detroit and on tribal land.

Michigan’s online casino partnerships

Online CasinoLicense holderTech partnerProjected launch
BetMGM CasinoMGM Grand DetroitGVCLate 2020
BetRivers CasinoLittle River Band of the Ottawa IndiansN/AWhen permitted
DraftKings CasinoBay Mills Indian CommunityN/ALate 2020
FanDuel CasinoMotorCity CasinoScientific GamesLate 2020
Hollywood CasinoGreektown CasinoKambiLate 2020
PokerStars CasinoLittle Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa IndiansN/ALate 2020
William Hill CasinoGrand Traverse Bay Band of Ottawa and Chippewa IndiansN/AWhen permitted
Wynn CasinoSault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa IndiansGANWhen permitted
BetAmerica CasinoHannahville Indian CommunityGAN/KambiLate 2020
Golden Nugget CasinoKeweenaw Bay Indian CommunityScientific GamesEarly 2021
Parx CasinoGun Lake TribeN/ALate 2020
PointsBet CasinoLac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa IndiansN/AEarly 2021
TBD/FireKeepers CasinoNottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi IndiansScientific GamesLate 2020
TBD/Four Winds CasinoPokagon Band of Potawatomi IndiansKambiLate 2020
TBD/Soaring Eagle CasinoSaginaw Chippewa Indian TribeN/ALate 2020

Also, it’s a good bet that Caesars Online Casino will show up in Michigan, too. Although the casino giant does not have a Michigan-based partner yet, it is not going to miss out on the party in the Great Lake State.

At any rate, if we had to guess, we’d estimate that the first online casino(s) to launch in Michigan will be BetMGM, DraftKings, FanDuel, PointsBet, and/or Golden Nugget Casino.

It is also worth keeping an eye on some New Jersey online casino operators who did not get into Pennsylvania but could be eyeing Michigan, such as Tropicana, Virgin, and 888. While the Michigan tiered tax rate on online gambling is not insubstantial, running from 20%-28%, it is still markedly lower than the 54% slot tax in PA, making the state more viable to operators.

What you can expect from online casinos in Michigan

Some of the operators listed above are familiar to most people. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand who BetMGM, DraftKings or FanDuel are.

However, you may not know some of the other names. Additionally, you may not be familiar with all the details about BetMGM, DraftKings, or FanDuel, either. To that end, below are quick rundowns about several top operators that we expect to debut in Michigan soon.

DraftKings Casino

DraftKings Casino Michigan

Over the past few years, DraftKings has expanded far beyond its somewhat humble roots as a daily fantasy sports provider. The company is set to launch in Michigan sometime in 2020 through a deal with the Bay Mills Indian Community.

The key feature that sets DraftKings apart is its software. Not many apps will move with the speed and fluidity that you will find on DraftKings. You will also find some unusual games and offerings with DraftKings Casino.

Few sites can match the variants of blackjack it has available, and there are several other games that you don’t regularly see, like DJ Wild Stud Poker, Dream Catcher and Wheely Wheely Big Win.

Of course, DraftKings has a sports focus, even in its casino. Many of the table games and slots you find will have sports themes, so you’ll never forget where you’re playing.

FanDuel Casino

Fanduel Casino Sportsbook

FanDuel is another name that is best known for its daily fantasy sports offerings. In fact, the company was a pioneer in that space, so it’s a little surprising to see how much the folks at FanDuel have expanded in the past few years. Now, the FanDuel Casino is on its way to Michigan courtesy of a partnership with MotorCity Casino in Detroit. Like many competitors, FanDuel is aiming to launch in Michigan before 2020 expires.

FanDuel distinguishes itself through quality over quantity in its casino offerings. Although there are fewer games than at some other sites, there are exclusive titles and content that you cannot find elsewhere.

Needless to say, there is also a great deal of integration onsite with the other functions that FanDuel offers. You can move back and forth between casino and sports betting with the same wallet in a matter of seconds.

BetMGM Casino

Bet MGM Sportsbook App

BetMGM is the online casino wing of MGM Resorts International, one of the largest casino operators in the world. Unsurprisingly, BetMGM is partnering with MGM Grand Detroit in Michigan. We are projecting that BetMGM will launch in November 2020.

The MGM online casino app is easy to use. It features 75 slot titles and a full slate of table games. Navigating the site is both is extremely intuitive.

In addition, the MGM loyalty program, MLife, is both available and active on the BetMGM Casino app. You can earn free play, comps and perks at MGM locations (including at MGM Grand Detroit) simply through your play. Some perks can include items like hotel stays, food vouchers and show tickets at MGM properties. Higher tiers in MLife also get preferred seating for MGM restaurants and get to skip the line.

Obviously, we don’t know exactly what bonus BetMGM has in store for its new Michigan clients. Rest assured, however, that there will be plenty of money flying around.

Golden Nugget Casino

Golden Nugget Casino

Golden Nugget Online is the online offering from the casino chain of the same name and is one of the most successful online casinos in the US. It has partnered with the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community in Michigan and is expected to launch sometime in early 2021.

Golden Nugget’s online casino features one of the most diverse sets of games that you’re likely to find online. It has more than a hundred slot titles and more than two dozen table games ready for you to play.

Like most big online casinos, Golden Nugget offers a rewards program to incentivize return visits from its players. The Golden Rewards Club has a very simple system — earn points, and trade those points for more cash to play.

Best of all, there’s nothing you have to do in order to join. Every Golden Nugget player is automatically a member, so once Golden Nugget comes to Michigan, you can start earning points right away.

PokerStars Casino

PokerStars Casino

PokerStars is not a name you associate with online casino play. However, the worldwide leader for online poker also maintains quite a respectable roster of games for you to choose from. PokerStars will enter Michigan in partnership with the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians and could very well launch before the end of 2020.  

As it happens, PokerStars Casino has an excellent selection of table games that you can play. Few other online casinos will match the level of diversity that you will find in that department. One of the great things about PokerStars and the situation in Michigan, however, is the seamless integration between its casino, poker and sportsbook functions. It is quite simple to move back and forth between the different types of gambling, so you don’t have to feel as though you’re locked into a single game.

PokerStars also maintains a rewards program and awards players with StarsCoin for their wagers onsite. You can redeem your rewards for onsite benefits like online poker tournament tickets, cash refunds and PokerStars-branded merchandise.

Caesars / William Hill Casino

William Hill Sportsbook Michigan

William Hill is a company best known for its sportsbooks. No other company has more active betting shops in Nevada, for instance, than William Hill. So, it’s a bit surprising that the UK-based company wants to enter Michigan as a casino provider. However, a deal with the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians says it does, and we could see a William Hill Casino in Michigan as soon as it can hammer out the licensing details. It could launch as Caesars, although will most likely be William Hill.

William Hill’s offering proves that it is no slouch with casino gambling, either. There are tons of slots, video poker, table games and other types of games available for play onsite. William Hill also features a deep loyalty program for its guests. Playing onsite earns you both complimentary points and William Hill points. Complimentary points are exchangeable for cash rewards and site credits. William Hill points determine your tier level and can result in discounted complimentary point exchanges, faster withdrawals and other perks that make life on William Hill Casino easier.

PointsBet Casino

Pointsbet logo Michigan

  • Review: PointsBet Michigan
  • Casino launch date: Late 2020

PointsBet is an Australian operator that may not be familiar to many casual gambling fans in Michigan. However, the company has made a big splash in the American market in the past couple of years, and its star is certainly on the rise. It is partnered with the Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians in Michigan and hopes to launch by the end of 2020.

PointsBet’s main business is its sportsbook. However, PointsBet is coming to Michigan with an online casino in the near future. There will be slots and table games galore on the site, along with plenty of generous promos.

PointsBet does offer a simple rewards system for its players. The more you play, the more rewards points you earn to spend onsite.

BetRivers Casino

betrivers sportsbook michigan

BetRivers Casino is the online casino arm for Rush Street Interactive. Rush Street is primarily centered in the northeastern US and owns the Rivers brand of casinos. BetRivers Casino will enter Michigan in cooperation with the Little River Band of the Ottawa Indians as soon as it can secure a license. Given BetRivers’ propensity to enter other states early, it probably won’t be long.

BetRivers Casino is one of the smoothest online casinos that you will find in Michigan. The sleek, streamlined design makes navigation easy and intuitive to do. Furthermore, very few casinos can match the sheer number of games and types of games that you’ll find on BetRivers. The catalog is extensive, and you will be best served if you use the dropdown menus to sort the pack of games a bit.

Hollywood / Barstool Casino

HollywoodCasino

Hollywood Casino is the online brand for gambling powerhouse Penn National Gaming. The company owns and/or operates casinos throughout the US. It is the operating company for the Greektown Casino in Detroit, so needless to say, it did not have to go looking for a partnership. Hollywood Casino should launch in Michigan before the end of 2020. If not Hollywood, then a Barstool Casino.

The casino site itself offers a decent roster of games for players to enjoy. There are roughly 100 slot titles, including games from IGT and NetEnt. There are also licensed titles from WMS and Everi. Hollywood also features a few table games to enjoy.

Michigan online casino apps

Mobile gaming is quickly becoming the most popular type of online gambling. That means that in addition to the browser-based online casino you can access from a mobile device or computer, Michigan online casino sites will also release iPhone and Android gambling apps.

These online casino apps will likely feature a similar navigation system as the browser-based casino website. It’s just that the apps often don’t have the full selection of games. The mobile-friendly versions you can download to a smartphone or tablet do feature full account management and cashier functionality. Plus, the graphics are held on your phone, meaning most of the games they do have will initiate faster.

iPhone or iPad users will find the casino apps by visiting the Michigan casino and clicking on the Apple logo. Android users will have to download the app directly from the casino’s website.

Online casino bonuses and no deposit offers

From the moment they open their virtual doors, the best Michigan casinos will be giving away free play to players to get them gambling.

Expect Michigan online casino sites to award this free play to new and existing players in a variety of ways, including:

  • No deposit bonuses: Much like they sound, no deposit bonuses are cash awards online casinos give players just for signing up for an account. No deposit is required. These are usually relatively small and come with a wagering requirement attached so that new players can’t just take the money and run.
  • Cash rebates: Cash rebates are like insurance policies online casinos give new players. Gamble with a limited amount of funds in your first week or so on a site, and if you lose, the casino will give you your money back. Win and never look back.
  • First deposit bonus: Deposit bonuses come in two forms. Online casinos agree to match up to a certain percentage of your first deposit with them. Or the casinos agree to match up to a certain percentage of your next deposit with them. Either way, there are wagering requirements attached so that you can’t just pocket the money. Regardless, these deposit bonuses can be some of the most lucrative you’ll find.
  • Free spin bonuses: Online casinos can offer free play in the form of free spins on specified slot machines as an incentive for signing up with a site. Take your free spins while you can get them, win big, turn nothing into something and never look back.

Loyalty rewards and comp programs

Online casino ads are often focused on attracting new players with no deposit and first deposit bonuses. It kind of makes you wonder if the online casinos in Michigan will be doing anything to retain their existing loyal customer base once the newness of online gambling wears off a bit.

Like land-based casinos, real money casinos in Michigan will offer player loyalty programs aimed at retaining existing customers by rewarding loyalty. The more you play, the more you earn.

You should be able to convert loyalty points into free play at Michigan online casinos. Plus, since the online casinos are all tied to land-based casino properties in the state, you should be able to convert your points into various rewards at the brick and mortar locations, as well. Some of the larger casino corporations may even make their lucrative land-based loyalty programs available online in Michigan.

You need to be in Michigan to play online games

Playing free and real money games on an appThe Michigan law includes language that requires online casino players to be in the state when they play. You don’t have to be a resident to sign up for an account, but you have to be inside state lines when you do decide to play.

Michigan online casinos are going to more than just take your word for it. Since the law makes it their responsibility to make sure players are where they say they are, online casinos will employ geolocation to ensure their players are inside Michigan’s borders.

Basically, geolocation is a positioning system used to pinpoint a player’s coordinates. It does this mostly by tracking the player’s IP address and triangulating his or her Wi-Fi signal. There’s really no getting around geolocation technology. No IP masking software or VPN will help. That’s why Michigan online casinos will employ geolocation technology to make sure online casino players are in Michigan when they play.

Free or real money games, the choice is yours

If you’ve ever been to a retail casino, you know that there’s nothing for free. You have to pay for everything. Even the free craps lessons the casino offers come with the hope that you’ll fork over some cash later on in the day when you’re trying out your new “skills.”

However, it is possible to play most slot titles and table games on online casinos for absolutely nothing. Nearly every game you encounter will ask you if you’d like to play the demo mode or for real money.

If you choose to play the demo mode, the casino will take you to the actual game you would play for real dollars. In most cases, the only functionality that you might not be able to enjoy is a progressive jackpot. Instead, the casino will provide you with a certain amount of play money to use on the machine or game. This amount is usually $1,000 or so, and you can bet however you like.

Your play money amount will almost always disappear when you close out the game. So don’t feel as though you have to conserve your resources. Instead, use this money to enjoy the game as much as you can. If you run out of chips, simply reload the game, and they will replenish.

Naturally, you can always choose to play casino games for real money if you click on the title in the lobby. However, even if you want to use the demo version to get your feet wet, most online casinos will keep a button prominently displayed that will switch you to the real money version instantly.

The ability to use a demo mode is a win-win for both player and casino. As a player, you can use the demo mode to figure out all the ins and outs of a game and whether or not you like to play it. The casino doesn’t mind, since it costs nothing to run and may lead to your investment of actual cash.

So don’t be afraid to play for free on MI online casinos. If you decide that it’s all too overwhelming after you’ve played, that’s fine. However, you might find a game or two that you like.

Best online casino games in Michigan

Online casinos are designed to replicate the experience of playing in a retail casino as closely as possible. That said, not all online casino sites are created equal, and both the experience and available variety of games will vary from site to site.

Naturally, every single online casino in MI will offer slot games in some regard. If they offer nothing else, you’ll be able to spin the reels. As far as table games go, the most common ones to find online are blackjack and roulette. Many sites have several variants of each game available. Just don’t expect a slew of games at launch. It takes time to load up the site and get games approved.

Here’s a rundown of the games that you might find in Michigan casinos online.

Online slots in Michigan

Zeus Slots Online in MichiganAh, the slot game. The “one-armed bandit” is often used as a symbol of gambling itself, and with good reason. There will be no online casinos in Michigan that do not offer as many slot games as they can muster.

However, the days of a mechanical reel or a clunky computer interface are over for slot players. Online casinos feature slot games with slick presentations and advanced functions that rival most video games. Here are some of the most common types of games you will find in Michigan’s top online casinos:

  • Three reel — The basic slot and closest to the “old school” style.
  • Three reel with bonus — These titles are also quite simple, but offer a special game for players who can line up specified symbols on their reels.
  • Five reel — In all likelihood, these games will be far more common than three-reels. Five-reel games offer more possible outcomes, but also more ways to win.
  • Five reel with video — This type of slot is the five-reel version of the three-reel-with-bonus slot. However, its bonus game is usually far more complex and might feature video clips.
  • Multimedia — The most advanced slot titles are multimedia games, with flexible reel structures, multiple minigame bonuses and elements to appeal both visually and audibly.

Slot titles also vary in terms of the number of ways that you can win. A simple payline can give way to diagonal paylines, reverse paylines and other structures. It’s not uncommon to find slot games with hundreds of ways to win on each spin.

Finally, many online casinos will have a section of slot titles that are progressive jackpot games. These titles take a portion of each spin and add it to a progressively increasing prize pool, which is advertised as a running total onscreen. It is possible to win hundreds of thousands of dollars if you can get one of these machines to stop just right.

You may also encounter slot tournaments at sites like PokerStars or BetMGM. A slot tournament allows you to play a certain slot for a specified time period and, other than the entry fee, you don’t have to pay. It’s all luck, but the winner usually gets a pretty nice payday.

Playing video poker online

Video poker is probably the last place in a casino that you can still play a version of five-card draw. Though the game was a staple of poker games for more than a hundred years, you just can’t find it amid the hold ’em and Omaha games common in most poker rooms.

The good news is that video poker retains quite a bit of popularity to this day. It will certainly be making its way into Michigan’s online casinos when they launch. Most online casinos have only a smattering of video poker options. The most common variant that you will find is Jacks or Better, which has no wild cards and literally describes how you can win in its title.

However, there are several types of video poker that could pop up. For the most part, these variants are offered by video poker giant Game King. Possible video poker variants you might see at casinos in Michigan include:

  • Jacks or Better — In order to win, you have to make a five-card hand featuring a pair of jacks … or better.
  • Bonus Poker — Jacks or Better, but with increased payouts on certain hands.
  • Bonus Poker Deluxe — Jacks or Better, but with increased payouts on more hands than regular Bonus Poker and decreased payouts on some lesser hands to compensate.
  • Double Bonus Poker — Bonus Poker Deluxe, but with the payouts at the upper end increased far more dramatically and lower end hands reduced more aggressively.
  • Double Double Bonus Poker — Double Bonus Poker, but now the kicker on your big hands matters for the payouts — i.e., it’s a better win for you if your four-of-a-kind has an ace to go with it.
  • Triple Double Bonus Poker — Double Double Bonus Poker, but now the kicker matters even more. In other words, few variants will have payouts as dramatically unbalanced as this version.
  • Deuces Wild Poker — A two can be any card, and you’ll need three-of-a-kind to win the lowest payout amount. Big hands are easier to make, and this variant is one of the only ones where a royal flush is not the biggest hand. The highest-paying hand here is four deuces.
  • Deuces Wild Bonus Poker — Deuces Wild, but you get extra money if your four deuces have an ace for a kicker. Also, straights pay the same as three-of-a-kind.
  • Joker Poker — Deuces Wild, except the deuces aren’t wild and there’s an extra card in the deck. Big hands are a bit more likely, but not nearly as prevalent as in Deuces Wild.

This list of games is not exhaustive. You may run across other variants as you search. However, most video poker games will either be these versions or something exceptionally similar.

When it comes to which game is best, it mostly boils down to your preference. However, make sure you shop around for the best payouts. Not all versions of the same game pay the same.

Online blackjack in Michigan

Blackjack and Table gamesIf an online casino in MI has table games at all, it will almost certainly have blackjack. The game of hitting, standing and doubling down is the quintessential table game and is a must-have for most sites.

In fact, you are likely to find multiple variants of blackjack on the site that you choose. For the most part, these variants do not change the way that you play the game. Sites will tweak one small part of the game — cards that allow you to double down, where the dealer stands, an extra side bet — and call it another type of blackjack.

It is rare that you cannot play normal blackjack on any version of the game that you see, however. So don’t feel intimidated by all the choices — they are pretty much the same across the board.

Roulette

The other table game that usually appears in online casinos in MI is roulette. The game’s popularity continues to be strong in both retail and online casinos, and the profit potential from its house edge is usually too great for a site to pass up.

Like blackjack, there are often several variants of roulette available online. Most of these versions of the game involve side bets and do not change how the game proceeds. However, there are three main variants of roulette that need some explanation.

First of all, roulette wheels themselves usually come in one of two varieties. An American roulette wheel will come with two zeroes (0 and 00), while a European wheel only comes with one. Though the addition of another zero might not seem all that important, it has a dramatic effect on the house edge of the game. A European wheel operates with a 2.7% house advantage, while an American wheel almost doubles the edge to 5.26%.

So, no matter which variant of roulette you choose, you should count the zeroes. The fewer zeroes, the better the game will play for you. There are even wheels with triple zeroes, but don’t play these unless you feel like surrendering nearly 8% of house edge.

Table games

Many sites will also have other table games that you can play. These games are rendered to be as close to their real-life counterparts as possible. However, if you see a name that you don’t recognize, look for question marks or a help guide.

One game that will be a rarer find online is craps. Although the exact reason is unclear — perhaps programming the action of the dice is difficult — it is quite difficult to find a way to bet the pass line and the come bets through a mobile app. Craps does exist in some online settings, but if that’s your game, prepare either to do some digging or be a bit disappointed. There’s no guarantee that Michigan will launch with craps, or add it in the future.

The good news is that you are fairly likely to find the following games or variants in Michigan online casinos:

Each game you find should come with a demo mode, so don’t feel as if you have to pay a “cover charge” to learn how to play a new game. It’s a good idea to understand every aspect of a game before you spend a dime of your own money.

Live dealer casinos in michigan

Live dealer games

The newest online casinos are also blurring the line between a retail casino and an online site through the use of live dealer games. Amazingly enough, it is possible to play some of your favorite table games with an actual dealer on an actual game table.

With the lineup of casino apps that are expected in Michigan, live dealer options are certain to follow. In fact, both BetMGM and PointsBet have already committed to a studio-building partnership with noted live dealer facilitator Evolution Gaming.

Live dealer games occur inside specially designed studios. The apps then broadcast them via a live feed. You can play the games in real time as if you were actually on the casino floor itself. In fact, in some cases, casinos don’t even bother with the studio and just wire a roulette table on the floor itself.

How does the experience at an online casino compare to real life?

You may be wondering how an online casino can possibly compare to the experience of visiting a casino in the flesh. After all, the sights and sounds of a brick-and-mortar gambling house are part of what draws you in. By and large, however, today’s online casinos can offer most of the same experiences that you can find live. For certain, there are some things that are missing, but the tradeoffs more than make up for them.

For one thing, game selection at many online casinos is comparable to that of your local casino. Almost every slot title you can imagine is available through the larger sites, and people can win (and have won) millions of dollars through big slot jackpots on their phones and computers.

Many online casinos also have a plethora of table games available for you to play. It is common to find many different variants of blackjack and roulette, each with its own rule quirks and challenges.

It’s also not uncommon to find options for games like Caribbean Stud and Let It Ride. Oddly enough, one of the rarer games online is craps, which is a staple in most live casinos.

However, one of the biggest differences between live and online is that there’s no such thing as a full table online. No matter what game you want to play, there’s always space for you to sit. You don’t have to wait for a spot at penny slots to open up, or try to wake the drunk guy who thought your favorite slot machines looked comfortable.

Always choose a legal Michigan casino over offshore

It’s important to know the difference between a regulated and licensed casino and one that operators offshore. There’s  no reason to take any kind of risk when legal options are available to you.

Just so we’re clear, a legal Michigan online casino is owned and operated by a reputable company, has gone through all the legal steps and complies with rules set out by Michigan regulators. An offshore online casino is not reputable and has taken no steps to legitimize itself.

In order to assist you in determining whether your chosen site is legit, here are some of the hallmarks of both legal and illegal (offshore) casinos in Michigan.

Legal casinos in Michigan:

  • Are upfront about their regulation under the Michigan Gaming Control Board or prominently display the seal of the board.
  • Require you to submit to geolocation verification to prove that you are in Michigan before you can bet.
  • Are listed on official state webpages or reports as part of Michigan’s online casino group.
  • Have a partnership with one of Michigan’s 26 casinos that is either mentioned onsite or discoverable through web searching.
  • Do not force you to use cryptocurrency, such as Bitcoin.
  • Will always use a .com. If you downloaded from a .lv, .ag or any other TLD, you’re likely playing at an unregulated site.
  • Will always payout winnings. The same cannot be said for offshore.

Playing on an offshore casino opens you to considerable risk unnecessarily. Offshore sites may not be honest in their dealings, might close without warning or could otherwise leave you holding the bag.

Because they are outside the US, you could find yourself with little legal recourse to pursue an offshore site operator in case of a dispute. It’s even possible that you could find yourself in the crosshairs of a law enforcement investigation.

If you are unsure about the site you’re considering, a simple phone call to the Michigan Gaming Control Board will clear things up. Call 313-456-4100 if you have even the slightest of reservations.

How online casinos are expected to benefit Michigan

The introduction of any kind of new gambling into a state is always a contentious issue. Opponents worry — somewhat understandably — about the negative effect that gambling can have on certain vulnerable portions of the population.

However, it’s important to bear in mind that Michigan’s online casinos will provide vital tax revenue to support various programs in the state. Without the income, these initiatives would otherwise go unfunded or force the state to incur debt.

State projections are placing the financial impact that Michigan online gambling will have at around $25 million each year. According to state law, that money will be divided in the following ways:

  • 30% to the city in which the internet casino’s partner is located. The money will be used to pay for things like hiring and training police officers, job development programs, emergency services and youth outreach programs.
  • 65% to the state’s internet gambling fund. The fund will pay for the regulators, of course, but will also fund initiatives on responsible gambling, first responder support and school aid.
  • 5% to the agriculture equine industry development fund. This final piece of funding will help to keep horseracing alive and well in Michigan.

Licensing and fees

Only existing Michigan casinos, including the three Detroit commercial casinos and 23 tribal casinos across the state, will be able to procure online casino licenses. Those that do will be able to offer casino-style games like blackjack and slots to anyone 21 or older and inside state lines.

The five-year online casino license comes with a $50,000 application fee, a $100,000 initial license fee, and a $50,000 annual fee. Plus, operators will be subject to a tiered tax structure starting at 20% for adjusted gross receipts of less than $4 million and peaking at 28% for over $12 million. Detroit commercial casinos will also pay an additional 1.25% city tax.

What about problem gambling?

Gambling is supposed to be fun and a source of entertainment. Unfortunately, for some, it can become a problem, leading to financial difficulties, strained relationships and employment and health issues. The state of Michigan is committed to helping those who face gambling problems and is enlisting the help of Michigan online casinos in this effort.

In fact, online casinos are required by law to provide customers with information on support for problem gamblers, and the state already committed $500,000 annually from online gambling taxes to problem gambling programs.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services runs a problem gambling resource website.

Other state resources for problem gamblers include the Michigan Problem Gambling Helpline, which can be reached at 1-800-270-7117. This is a toll-free, confidential, one-on-one helpline offering assistance and support for gambling addiction by trained and experienced counselors 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Other problem gambling resources available through the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services include:

The Michigan Gaming Control Board also maintains the Michigan Disassociated Persons List, allowing problem gamblers to request that they be barred from licensed casinos. Application information is available by calling 1-888-223-3044.

Overview of Michigan’s casino industry

Michigan has had gambling since the early 1930s, when horse racing and pari-mutuel wagering was launched in the state.

Then, in May 1972, a second form of gambling came to the state when voters approved a constitutional amendment establishing the state lottery. Then-Gov. William Milliken made the Michigan State Lottery legal in August of that year.

In 1996, Michigan joined one of the first multi-state lottery games, called “The Big Game.” The Big Game became Mega Millions in 2002.

Nonprofit organizations have been able to run licensed bingo games, millionaire parties, raffles and charity games since the early 1970s.

However, true casino gaming did not come to Michigan until 1993. That’s when the first tribal casino was opened by the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe in Mount Pleasant.  The original compact between the tribe and the state saw the tribe hand over 2% of its winnings distribution in the spring of 1994. The amount was $531,763. By 2007, the Saginaw Chippewa Tribe was handing over more than $3.6 million annually to the state.

These days there are 23 tribal casinos across Michigan, all running under tribal-state gaming compacts that require the tribes to pay the state 8% of each casino’s net win on electronic games of chance and 2% to local municipalities.

Other than that, the state of Michigan and the Michigan Gaming Control Board have no regulatory authority over tribal casinos.

In November 1996, Michigan voters approved a proposal authorizing the launch of three licensed casinos in Detroit. The Michigan Gaming Control & Revenue Act was signed into law in 1997 authorizing the opening of the three Detroit commercial casinos.

The Greektown, MGM, and MotorCity casinos are now open, and each is governed by the Michigan Gaming Control Board.

Finally, in December 2019, lawmakers legalized online gambling, sports betting, fantasy sports as well as online poker in Michigan. Existing tribal and commercial casinos have been invited to apply for the first licences.

Retail sportsbooks opened in Michigan with Detroit’s three casinos opening them in March 2020. There are a handful of retail sportsbooks at Michigan’s tribal casinos as well.

The first wave of online casinos and poker sites should launch in 2020, possibly in November.

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