Online poker is now legal in Michigan.
In December 2019, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed a package of gambling expansion bills into law. In addition to legalizing sports betting, online casinos and daily fantasy sports contests, these bills legalized online poker in Michigan.
We have yet to see when the first online poker sites will go live in Michigan. Some estimates have the launch of online gambling set for October of this year.
Before the licensing process can take place, the state must create rules and guidelines. Operators will also need time to get Michigan-specific online poker technology up and running.
Only existing casinos, which include three commercial casinos in Detroit and 12 tribal casino operators throughout the state, will be able to procure online gambling licenses.
Each will be allowed one online casino brand and one online poker brand per license, up to two total brands apiece.
The licenses come with a $50,000 application fee, $100,000 initial licensing fee and a $50,000 annual renewal fee.
Michigan online poker operators will be subject to the same tiered tax structure as online casinos.
It starts at 20% for adjusted gross receipts of less than $4 million and peaks at 28% for more than $12 million. Detroit commercial casinos will also pay an additional 1.25% city tax.
We anticipate Michigan online poker to go live in late 2020, possibly as soon as October.
In January 2019, The Stars Group, a global leader in online gaming, announced its intention to enter Michigan’s online poker market.
The Stars Group owns PokerStars’ online poker rooms around the world, including in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
The only PokerStars competitors expected to enter the Michigan online poker market are PartyPoker and WSOP.com.
Neither has announced a partnership in the state. However, an existing deal between PartyPoker’s parent company GVC Holdings and MGM suggests that PartyPoker will likely enter Michigan through MGM Grand in Detroit.
Since there aren’t any Caesars’ or Eldorado Resorts’ casinos in the state, WSOP doesn’t have an apparent home.
If and when Michigan joins the Multi-State Internet Gaming Association remains unclear. The MSIGA allows New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware to share player pools.
A clause in the Michigan gambling bills would have directly facilitated an interstate compact; however, it was removed before the laws passed.
Lawmakers have indicated its removal was intended to address multi-state progressive slot jackpots.
Multi-state poker could be on its way to Michigan. It’s likely a must-have for the online poker market in the Great Lakes State to survive long-term. Curtis Hertel Jr., a state legislator in Michigan, said he is going to propose a bill adding multi-state online poker to Michigan’s gambling offerings.
Michigan is slightly larger than New Jersey, where online poker is barely surviving despite pooling players with Nevada and Delaware.
Adding states, including Pennsylvania and Michigan, to the mix over the next few years would certainly be a boost to the US online poker market.
Global online poker giant The Stars Group secured a partnership with the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians Gaming Authority in early January.
The deal gives The Stars Group first-skin market access for all gambling verticals in Michigan, including online poker.
The Stars Group owns and operates PokerStars, which operates in NJ and PA. The Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians operates three Michigan tribal casinos, with the largest being the Odawa Casino, near Petoskey.
Both entities will still need to secure a license and get regulatory approval from the Michigan Gaming Control Board. However, it appears it’s a matter of time before PokerStars Michigan launches.
Though there wasn’t a formal announcement, MGM Resorts International and PartyPoker’s parent company GVC Holdings established a 50/50 joint venture sports betting and online gaming platform for the US in July 2018.
The idea is that MGM Resorts and GVC will deliver their assets, brands, proprietary technology and industry expertise wherever sports betting and online gaming are legal in the US.
The press release announcing the joint venture specifically named the PartyPoker brand.
The launch of PartyPoker Michigan through MGM Grand would appear to be the perfect example of a joint venture in action.
Michigan’s online poker will launch as a fenced-in market.
Players who are 21 years or older and within state lines will be eligible to play online poker cash games and tournaments.
Online poker operators will use geolocation technology to ensure all live players are inside the state.
Players will need to sign up for an online account with an operator of their choice and go through identity and age verification before they can play.
One day, state lawmakers may enter into a multi-state compact to allow operators to share player pools with sites in other poker states.
A clause initially included in the state’s online gambling bills that would have directly facilitated an interstate compact was removed before the legislation was passed.
Lawmakers have indicated its removal was intended to address multi-state progressive slot jackpots. Therefore, multi-state poker is still a possibility down the road.
Michigan online poker sites will offer free play to attract new customers.
Tax breaks allowing Michigan online poker operators a percentage of gross receipts for free play over the first five years of operation all but guarantees this.
Plus, giving free bonus cash as an incentive to sign up has proven to be a successful poker marketing strategy elsewhere.
PokerStars PA has shot out of the gate, posting four to six times the revenue it averages in NJ.
Players who open a PokerStars account in Pennsylvania using the PokerStars PA bonus code PLAY30 and deposit at least $20 will earn $30 in free play.
This offer includes $20 in free play and $10 in Spin and Go tickets.
New PA players also receive a ticket to the depositor freeroll event on the last Sunday of every month. It features cash prizes and a zero-entry fee.
PokerStars’ players in Pennsylvania can also use the promo code STARS600 when they sign up and make their first deposit (or three qualifying deposits within 60 days), and can also earn a 100% bonus of up to $600.
Players need to earn redemption points to unlock the bonus, but get 5 points for every $1 paid in tournament fees or rake in most games. Once earning 100 redemption points, PokerStars PA will release $10 in bonus cash into their account.
PA players can only receive the free-money bonus or the deposit bonus, not both.
PokerStars Michigan should roll out with something similar.
Any tournaments that launch will attempt to stay competitive with a bonus structure to try to attract new players.
There’s little doubt Michigan online poker operators will want to make getting your money on and off the sites as easy as possible.
That means offering a variety of deposit and withdrawal options, including third-party payment processors like PayPal, debit or credit cards, and cash.
Here’s an example of the variety of deposit methods at PokerStars PA:
There’s a massive live poker scene in Michigan with as many as 10 live poker rooms operating across the state.
Walk into any one of the Michigan poker rooms on this list, and you’ll find securing a seat at affordable stakes is as easy as asking for one.
Bay Mills Resort & Casino, in Brimley, features a four-table poker room that is open 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
There are regular cash games and low-buy-in tournaments. Players must be at least 18 years or older.
The newly renovated 26-table poker room at FireKeepers Casino Hotel, in Battle Creek, is the premier poker room in the state.
The room spreads Texas Hold’em, Omaha and stud cash games at a variety of low to mid-stakes. Plus, there are low to mid-stakes buy-in tournaments every day, including a regular stop on the popular Mid-States Poker Tour.
Promotions include a progressive bad beat jackpot.
Greektown Casino Hotel, in Detroit, features a 12-table poker room offering Texas Hold ’em and Omaha games. There are regular tournaments and high-hands promotions.
Gun Lake Casino in Wayland, features a 14-table poker room spreading Texas Hold’em and Omaha games.
There are low-stakes tournaments happening five days a week, and promotions include a bad beat jackpot.
Kewadin Casino, Hotel and Convention Center, in Sault Ste. Marie, features a four-table poker room open Wednesdays through Sundays.
There are low-stakes tournaments on Wednesdays and cash games every day.
The poker room at MGM Grand Detroit features 17 tables with Texas Hold’em and Omaha action.
There are bounty tournaments three days a week and promotions include splash pots, bad beat jackpots and hot-seat drawings.
The MotorCity Casino Hotel, in Detroit, features a 17-table poker club spreading Texas Hold’em and Omaha games.
There’s a regular tournament calendar, and promotions include a bad beat jackpot, high-hands and a gas card giveaway.
The Ojibwa Casinos, in Baraga, spreads poker on a single table running on Fridays and Saturdays from 6 p.m.
The Ojibwa Casino, in Marquette, has poker on three tables on Fridays and Saturdays from 6 p.m. to 4 a.m.
Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort, in Mount Pleasant, features a 14-table poker room open 24/7.
There’s a six-day per week tournament schedule and promotions include a bad beat jackpot, early bird rake, lucky ticket draws and high-hands.
The room spreads Texas Hold’em, Pineapple, Crazy Pineapple, Omaha, seven-card stud and Razz. Multi-game formats include round by rounds, dealer’s choice, HORSE, SHOE and HOP. Players may request any game type with any limit.
Yes, online poker is legal in Michigan. A bill legalizing online poker was passed by the Michigan House and Senate and signed into law by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in December 2019.
It is hard to say when the first online poker sites will go live in Michigan.
State rules and guidelines must be created. A licensing process will then take place. Operators also need some time to get Michigan-specific online poker technology running.
Plus, sports betting and online casinos have also been legalized. Because these two verticals will likely produce more revenue than online poker, they will probably be the state’s priority.
All that said, legal online poker should go live in Michigan sometime in 2020 or early 2021.
No, Michigan’s online poker will start as a fenced-in market, which means only players inside state lines can play.
State lawmakers may one day enter into a multi-state compact to allow operators to share player pools with other sites in other states.
A clause in the state’s gambling bills that would have facilitated an interstate compact was removed before the bills were passed. However, lawmakers indicated it was removed to address multi-state progressive slot jackpots.
That means multi-state poker and the ability to play against players in other states is still a possibility down the road.
Only players inside Michigan’s state lines will be eligible to play in online poker cash games and tournaments.
Michigan online poker operators will use geolocation technology to ensure online poker players are in the state. No VPN can get around this tech.
Players will also need to sign up for an account with thane operator of their choice and go through identity and age verification before playing.
No, but you do have to be in Michigan to play online poker. Resident or not, you can sign up for an online poker account and play, as long as you’re inside state lines at the time.
You will see Texas Hold’em and Omaha at online poker rooms in Michigan.
There will likely be several tournaments, including bounty tournaments and turbos. You might even find fast-fold cash games and lottery-style Sit and Go tournaments.
What you aren’t likely to find is much action in poker variants other than hold’em and Omaha. Michigan online poker rooms may promise to spread the games, but with few players playing, they won’t often run if at all.
Yes, Michigan online poker games are as fair as they come.
Online poker operators use random number generators to deal the cards. The Michigan Gaming Control Board tests this technology.
The sites don’t have an interest in one player winning over another. They have strict security in place to police collusion, bot play and anything else untoward.
Michigan online poker operators are subject to a tiered tax structure.
It starts at 20% for adjusted gross receipts of less than $4 million and peaking at 28% for more than $12 million. Detroit commercial casinos also pay an additional 1.25% city tax.
Poker winnings are considered taxable income by the IRS; however, it’s a flat 25% tax.
All gambling winnings are subject to Michigan’s individual income tax. You should include it in your adjusted gross income.
The Michigan Income Tax Act doesn’t have provisions that allow players to deduct poker losses on their state income tax return.