Online poker is legal and regulated in Michigan for players 21 or older. Legal online poker came to Michigan courtesy of legislation signed into law by Governor Gretchen Whitmer in December 2019.
Michigan online poker began in January 2021 with the launch of PokerStars, the state’s first legal poker site. BetMGM Poker followed suit two months later as Michigan’s second poker site.
It took just over a year for the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) to adopt the needed regulations, review licensing requests, and authorize the state’s first poker sites. Michigan was the fifth state to launch legal online poker, and the industry hit the ground running.
With legal online poker, sports betting, and gambling, Michigan quickly established itself as a major online gaming market.
Best Michigan Poker Sites
PokerStars and BetMGM serve as Michigan’s two legal poker sites at the moment. Additional operators are expected to follow along over time.
State law requires all online gambling operators to partner with land-based Michigan casinos. To that end, PokerStars is partnered with the Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians and BetMGM is partnered with MGM Grand Detroit.
The next Michigan poker sites to launch will have similar partnerships with local casinos as required by state law. State law has set the stage for a competitive online poker market with a reasonable tax rate and licensing fees – so look for more competition to arise in short order.
BetMGM Poker Michigan
BetMGM Poker, which is the product of a partnership between MGM Resorts International and Entain (formerly GVC Holdings), launched for Michigan players in March 2021.
Entain also operates the Borgata Poker and PartyPoker brands, but neither of those have launched yet in Michigan. In New Jersey, Entain operates BetMGM, Borgata Poker, and PartyPoker on a single network that shares players and tables. It remains a distinct possibility that Entain will follow a similar trajectory in Michigan by launching Borgata and PartyPoker to operate on a shared network with BetMGM MI.
Other Michigan Poker Sites
WSOP.com and GGPoker also sit on the outskirts. There is no word on WSOP.com coming to Michigan as they’ve yet to apply for an MGCB license. However, WSOP does operate in New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware, which means it has a leg up on other international operators with no legal US online poker presence.
Meanwhile, GGPoker is approved in Pennsylvania, marking its official entry into the United States online poker market. GGPoker has grown significantly since late 2019 to position itself as one of the premier international poker operators. It would be no surprise to see GGPoker continue its aggressive expansion strategy with a Michigan launch at some point.
USGambling will continue to monitor developments and provide updates as additional poker sites make their Michigan plans known.
Interstate Poker Considerations in Michigan
Interstate poker will likely come to Michigan over the near to medium term.
An interesting quirk in Michigan’s approach to online poker is that lawmakers are amenable to interstate play. In December 2020, Governor Whitmer signed SB 991, authorizing Michigan to enter player sharing agreements with other states provided those agreements conform to federal law.
What this means for players is they may one day find themselves seated at tables with players from other states. If Michigan poker sites are able to share player pools across state lines, players will find more cash game tables, bigger tournaments, and a healthier poker economy than if Michigan poker sites were ring-fenced to in-state players only.
There are several approaches the MGCB may take to facilitate interstate poker in Michigan. Two distinct possibilities include:
- Join the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement (MSIGA). The MSIGA is a partnership between New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware that allows operators active in two or more states to share player pools across state lines. Michigan, the tenth-largest market in the country with approximately 9.98 million people, would almost double the existing three-state combined total of around 13 million (8.8 million of which comes from New Jersey).
- Form a partnership to share player pools with Pennsylvania, the fifth-largest US state by population (12.8 million). An alliance between two top-10 markets would entice others to follow suit as additional states legalize online poker, with the MSIGA trio not being counted out at that time either.
With a population of about 10 million, the Michigan online poker market should prove attractive to most operators. Michigan was the sixth US state to legalize online poker, following New Jersey, Nevada, Delaware, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
Michigan’s addition to the list of states with legal online poker provides a significant shot in the arm of the US online poker industry. Prior to Michigan joining the party, the states with legal online poker had a combined population of about 27.5 million. Michigan increases that by about a third in one fell swoop.
The full market potential of online poker in Michigan will be unlocked with interstate poker compacts, which allow customers to play poker with one another across state lines in jurisdictions where online poker is legal. Michigan has a large enough population to support a small online poker industry on its own, but joining forces with other states will provide a major boost to in-state operators and the US industry as a whole.
Michigan has not yet joined forces with other online poker states, but it is likely only a matter of time. In late 2020, the legislature passed a bill authorizing Michigan to enter interstate poker compacts. The governor signed the bill into law one month later, setting the stage for a vibrant poker market in Michigan.
Types Of Online Poker Games In Michigan
BetMGM and PokerStars have a duopoly in Michigan for the time being, but it is just a matter of time before additional operators follow suit. In the meantime, both provide an adequate variety of cash games and tournaments for players in Michigan.
Cash game and tournament options in Michigan include no-limit Holdem and pot-limit Omaha and their fixed-limited counterparts. Other game types include stud and draw variants such as Seven Card Stud, 2-7 Triple Draw, and 8-Game mix.
Cash Game Stakes
Cash game players have access to a wide range of stakes ranging from the micro-limits of $0.01/$0.02 (no-limit and fixed) to as high as $25/$50 no-limit, and even higher at some fixed-limit tables.
Michigan online poker tournaments are on the schedule all day, every day. Buyins range from absolutely free all the way up to High Roller events with $500+ buyins.
The Michigan tournament scene has been vibrant from the beginning. Shortly after PokerStars launched as the state’s first poker site, the company announced its inaugural Michigan Championship of Online Poker (MICOOP) with $1,000,000 in guaranteed prize pools. BetMGM Poker has launched similar tournament series with large guarantees.
Michigan Online Poker Deposits and Withdrawals
Safe, secure, and quick transactions are one of the biggest draws to legal online poker. In Michigan, customers can fund their online poker sites for as little as $10 through a variety of methods:
- Credit cards and debit cards
- Bank transfer
New online poker players in Michigan can also claim deposit bonuses and other promotions in return for signing up and playing. Promos change often, but players can log in any time to view the latest offers.
Players can withdraw their winnings through the same methods used to deposit, except credit and debit cards. In that case, players can choose an alternative method such as online bank transfer to cash out their winnings.
E-wallets such as PayPal and Skrill support deposits and withdrawals, and as such, are an excellent choice for frequent players. An account with PayPal, for example, makes it convenient to deposit, withdraw, and quickly move money from one poker site to another.
Taxes – Michigan regards poker profits in the same manner as sports betting or other forms of casino gambling and taxes its residents accordingly. Operators must automatically report all net wins of $5,000+, and players must report all long-term winnings. As always, USGambling recommends players seek qualified tax advice to ensure compliance with state and federal law.
Online Poker Regulations in Michigan
The Lawful Internet Gaming Act of 2019 regulates online poker and gambling in Michigan. The Act sets the groundwork for how online poker may be conducted in Michigan, including licensing considerations, tax rates, minimum age requirements, and more.
Under state law, all online and mobile poker apps in Michigan must partner with land-based casinos. Michigan is home to more than two dozen casinos in total, including three commercial casinos in Detroit and 23 tribal properties located throughout the state. That leaves plenty of room for a competitive online gambling industry.
Michigan law enforces a minimum age of 21 to participate in online poker and gambling. Licensed operators must employ geolocation technology to confirm all customers are physically located within state lines before letting them play for real money. Additionally, Michigan poker sites must verify the age and identity of every customer.
Age and Identity Verification
Online poker sites are required by law to verify all players are at least 21 years of age and located within Michigan state lines when playing. Additionally, operators must ensure they restrict access to customers whose names appear on the responsible gambling database.
Poker sites must also verify the identity of each customer and take reasonable measures to prevent the unauthorized access of online gaming accounts and to detect fraud, money laundering and collusion.
Licensing Fees and Tax Rate
All online poker operators in Michigan are subject to licensing fees and taxes as follows.
Licensing fees include:
- $50,000 application fee
- $100,000 fee upon successful licensure
- $50,000 annual fee thereafter
Additionally, online gaming and poker licensees are subject to a graduated tax rate ranging from 20% to 28% of adjusted gross receipts.
The Act also outlines how tax money collected from online gaming operators is distributed to various state and municipal initiatives:
- 30% of tax revenue goes to the city in which the gaming operator’s casino is located to support: Job development in blighted neighborhoods, public safety programs such as EMTs and fire departments, anti-gang and youth development programs, other programs designed to improve the quality of life in that city, capital improvements, and road repairs and improvements
- 65% of tax revenue goes to Michigan’s general fund
- 5% goes to the Michigan agricultural equine industry development fund; any amount in excess of $3 million per year goes to the internet gaming fund
Sec. 9 (1) of the Act grants the Michigan Gaming Control Board significant powers to regulate online poker moving forward. The Act itself serves as the foundation for legal online poker, but the MGCB will play a large role in shaping the industry.
As the Act states, the MGCB is responsible for overseeing the conduct of online gaming in Michigan and “may do anything necessary or desirable to effectuate” the Act.
Among other duties, the MGCB is responsible for:
- Developing qualifications, standards and procedures for issuing licenses to online gaming operators and their software suppliers
- Approving, denying, renewing and revoking online gaming licenses
- Conducting hearings related to violations of the Act
- Collecting and managing all licensing fees and taxes paid by licensees
- Developing testing and auditing requirements for online gaming operators
- Establishing responsible gambling, privacy and safety standards for consumers