Michigan online casinos are live as of Jan. 22, and you have several great options in the palm of your hand.
For anyone who has been keeping up with the progress of online gambling in Michigan, the launch is the culmination of 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 have a variety of mobile casino apps and bonus offers.
Last updated: Jan. 22, 2021
Happy Launch Day!
It’s happening, folks! Michigan online casinos are live today, on Jan. 22. The Michigan Gaming Control Board announced on Tuesday that eight casino apps are approved for launch.
Those apps include heavy-hitters and industry mainstays DraftKings, FanDuel, and BetMGM. Follow our Live Updates here for updates on which apps are live.
More apps are waiting for approval, however, including powerhouses Fox Bet and PointsBet, which was approved for online sports betting. Richard Kalm, executive director of the MGCB, said the agency has been concerned with ensuring safety and fairness for bettors. The initial wave of apps to go live will be followed by a steady stream of new approvals.
Meanwhile, there may be a new casino project coming to the Upper Peninsula. On top of a mountain. Seriously. Check it out.
Here is what we know so far about online casino apps in Michigan:
|Online Casino||License holder||Tech partner||Launch date|
|BetMGM Casino||MGM Grand Detroit||GVC||Jan. 22|
|DraftKings Casino||Bay Mills Indian Community||N/A||Jan. 22|
|FanDuel Casino||MotorCity Casino||Scientific Games||Jan. 22|
|Hollywood Casino||Greektown Casino||Kambi||Early 2021|
|Golden Nugget Casino||Keweenaw Bay Indian Community||Scientific Games||Jan. 22|
|William Hill Casino||Grand Traverse Bay Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians||N/A||Jan. 22|
|PointsBet Casino||Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians||N/A||Early 2021|
|PokerStars Casino||Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians||N/A||Early 2021|
|BetRivers Casino||Little River Band of the Ottawa Indians||Kambi||Jan. 22|
|Wynn Casino||Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians||GAN||Jan. 22|
|TwinSpires Casino||Hannahville Indian Community||GAN/Kambi||Jan. 22|
|Parx Casino||Gun Lake Tribe||N/A||Early 2021|
|TBD/FireKeepers Casino||Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi Indians||Scientific Games||Sometime in 2021|
|TBD/Four Winds Casino||Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians||Kambi||Sometime in 2021|
|TBD/Soaring Eagle Casino||Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe||N/A||Sometime in 2021|
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.
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 casino 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 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 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 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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 also release iPhone and Android gambling apps.
These online casino apps 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.
The best Michigan casinos will offer free promos and to new players. Michigan online casino sites award this free play to new and existing players in a variety of ways, including:
Online casino ads are often focused on attracting new players with no deposit and first deposit bonuses. 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 can 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.
The 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 need to verify your location. 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.
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.
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 offers 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. Most 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 will find in Michigan casinos online.
Ah, 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:
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.
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:
This list of games is not exhaustive. You will 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.
If an online casino in MI has table games, 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.
The other table game you can expect to find at 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.
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 will be able 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.
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.
Live dealer options are expected later in 2021/2022. 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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
Only existing Michigan casinos, including the three Detroit commercial casinos and 23 tribal casinos across the state, are 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.
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.
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 2021, possibly in January.