Online casinos and sportsbooks are now legal and live in Michigan thanks to a comprehensive gambling package signed into law by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Dec. 13. 2019. The legislation was the result of a near decade-long push by iGaming proponents to bring the industry to the state along with additional streams of tax revenue. The state’s first online casinos and sports betting sites launched on January 22, 2021. Read on for full details on Michigans booming iGaming industry.
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Michigan online casinos are now live
Michigan’s path from legalization to launch wasn’t as straightforward as officials had hoped. A potential March Madness 2020 debut for sports betting was floated, but ultimately too ambitious. Revised estimates pointed to 2021. Michigan iGaming officially got underway on January 22nd, 2021. The shotgun-style start featured multiple casinos and sportsbooks going online at the same time. Online poker sites are not expected to launch until until late 2021, or even 2022.
|Sports Betting||Jan. 22, 2021|
|Online Casinos||Jan. 22, 2021|
|Online Poker||Q3-Q4 2021|
The Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) was eager to get sportsbooks up and running as soon as possible to fill some budget gaps. The January launch was well timed, with both the Super Bowl and March Madness right around the corner.
The state prioritized traditional casino games like slots and table games over online poker. Online poker has struggled in the US, due to tight regulations which artificially restrict player pools to a handful or even a single state. The majority of iGaming tax revenue is therefore generated from slots and table games like blackjack.
Furthermore, because online poker is peer-to-peer, some additional regulatory checks must take place, such as safeguards against cheating and collusion. That’s not necessary for online slots, so Michigan was able to get casino games off the ground without as much hassle.
Which casinos can offer online gambling?
The Michigan gaming expansion of 2019 was historic in the sense that it incorporates the state’s robust tribal casino gaming industry into the new world of online gaming. The commercial casinos in Detroit and the 23 tribal casinos sprinkled around the state are on relatively equal footing in Michigan. Each is eligible to engage in iGaming partnerships to expand their footprint over the internet.
MI online casino partnerships
|Online Casino||Bonus Offer||Licensee||MI Land Based Casino||Launched|
|DraftKings Casino||Get Bonus||Bay Mills Indian Community||Bay Mills Casino||1/22/2021|
|BetRivers Casino||Get Bonus||Little River Band of Ottawa Indians||Little River Casino||1/22/2021|
|BetMGM Casino||Get Bonus||MGM Resorts International||MGM Grand Detroit||1/22/2021|
|FanDuel Casino||Coming Soon||MotorCity Casino||MotorCity Casino||1/22/2021|
|WynnBET Casino||Coming Soon||Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians||Kewadin Casinos||1/22/2021|
|William Hill Casino||Coming Soon||Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians||Turtle Creek Casino, Leelanau Sands||1/22/2021|
|Golden Nugget||Coming Soon||Keweenaw Bay Indian Community||Ojibwa Casinos||1/22/2021|
The Lawful Sports Betting Act allows the three commercial casinos in Detroit, as well as all tribal casinos in the state, to offer both retail and online wagering. Each sports betting operator is allowed a single online/mobile sports betting partner.
There are 12 tribes with gaming compacts with Michigan, according to the most recent state report, with some of the tribes operating multiple casinos.
With each tribe allowed one online sports betting partner, there can be a maximum 15 online/mobile sports betting brands active in Michigan, per the Lawful Sports Betting Act.
Under the Lawful Internet Gaming Act, the same casinos can offer online casino gaming. The legislation gives each operator a chance to have one skin for online poker and a skin for online casino. That’s three online gambling skins in total per operator.
MI online gaming licensing fees and taxes
Michigan sports betting operators are subjected to an 8.4% state tax on adjusted sports betting receipts. The Detroit casinos must pay an additional 1.25% to the Motor City. Monies from online betting go to the Internet Sports Betting Fund.
The sports betting state tax rate would not be applied to retail wagering at the tribal casinos, like it is for their online sportsbooks. The Detroit casinos will pay the tax on both retail and online adjusted sports betting receipts.
As for licensing, it costs $50,000 to apply for a sports betting operator license, as well as an additional $100,000 for the license itself when it is issued. It will cost $50,000 annually to renew the license. This structure is industry friendly.
Online casinos face a tiered tax structure, with licensees subjected to a 20% state tax rate for adjusted gross receipts less than $4 million, up to 28% for AGR greater than $12 million.
The fees for an application, licensure, and licensure renewal are the same as sports wagering. Like sports betting, the Detroit casinos owe 1.25% to the city.
Tax revenue will go to various state coffers or causes, but the sticking point in the negotiations to legalize the industry was the Michigan School Aid Fund. The governor wanted to make sure that the fund wouldn’t be depleted under competition between online slots and the iLottery games.
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Online casinos & sportsbooks
Michiganders now have access to a slew of online casino and online/mobile sports wagering brands. For example, well known online powerhouses like FanDuel Casino and DraftKings Casino are now live – in addition to some popular brick-and-mortar names like BetMGM and WynnBET.
Michigan featured a somewhat chaotic start with multiple operators going live on Day 1, many with both online casino and sportsbook products.
Gamblers in Michigan now have access to enticing welcome offers, resembling promotions that gamblers have come to know and love in other regulated online casino markets like New Jersey and Pennsylvania. With attractive tax rates and plenty of license partners available, MI is an attractive destination for all online gaming sites.
Card players can expect PokerStars to launch in Michigan at some point. The site’s parent company has for years lobbied the Michigan government for the chance to offer legal, regulated online gaming in the state.
In addition, The Stars Group (TSG) inked an online gaming partnership with a Michigan tribe, confirming the company’s presence in-state. PokerStars was the first to market in Pennsylvania, and the results out of the gate were impressive relative to its performance in New Jersey. It’s likely PokerStars will be the first iPoker platform in Michigan, and it could be for quite some time after it goes live.
MGM and GVC Holdings, which are behind the partypoker online poker offering in New Jersey, have a channel ready in Michigan, thanks to MGM’s ownership of MGM Grand Detroit. The partypoker product should eventually be live in Michigan, but it doesn’t appear it will be in a hurry to get it to market, as opposed to PokerStars, which looks to be moving full steam ahead.
Michigan online gambling history
For more than half a decade, several parties have been trying to bring legal and regulated online casino gaming to the state. The effort began with the idea that Michigan might become an online poker-only market, but New Jersey changed the calculus when it authorized a full array of online casino gaming in 2013.
Michigan efforts then evolved, shifting gears to consider online slots and table games along with poker. The push inside the Wolverine state was once spearheaded in the Senate by former lawmaker Sen. Mike Kowall. Upon his retirement, the efforts were handed off to State Rep. Brandt Iden in the House. The home base for the legislation had moved from one chamber to the other, but the plan was effectively the same.
After years of work, Iden was able to receive bipartisan support for both online casino and online sports wagering in late 2018, just a handful of months after the US Supreme Court overturned PASPA. Thanks to that high court ruling, sports betting was now included in Michigan’s online gaming efforts.
But despite the successful passage of the gaming expansion package, former Gov. Rick Snyder, who was set to leave office, vetoed the bills on his way out the door. It came as a surprise to many, including Iden.
Snyder explained that he wanted to let the next governor, former state lawmaker Gretchen Whitmer, make the call. He said in a veto letter that the legislation had major implications for the state’s School Aid Fund, a reasoning that Whitmer agreed with.
The legislation faced hurdles in 2019 thanks to the fund, which is largely reliant on the lottery. Fortunately, it was all hashed out, with Whitmer agreeing to a lower tax rate for sports betting in exchange for a higher rate on online casino.
The Michigan Lottery began offering its games online in 2014, an offering that has continued to grow. While the emergence of online lottery gaming in Michigan paved the way for online casino, it was the lottery that ended up holding back iCasino near the end of the windy road that was the legislative process.
In order to reach a compromise with Whitmer, who was once opposed to online slots altogether, the tax rate for online casino had to be raised significantly, relative to what passed the legislature in 2018. The devil was in the details.
On Dec. 13, Gov. Whitmer signed the gambling expansion bills, paving the way for state casinos to offer their gambling games online. Michigan online sports betting and casino officially began on January 22, 2021.
Frequently asked questions
When did online gambling games launch?
Online casino and sports betting officially went live in January 2021. Online poker is still a ways off.
Do I have to live in Michigan to play?
No, you can simply be visiting Michigan and play.
Can I play games on my mobile device?
Yes, games are available on iOS and Android smartphones and tablets.
Can I download and register for an online casino or sportsbook account remotely?
Yes, unlike other states, there is no requirement that you travel to the casino in order to set up your account.
How old do I need to be in order to play?
21 years of age.
Can I bet outside of Michigan?
No, the platforms are geo-fenced and games will become inoperable once a player is outside of the state borders. Indiana, for example, has different sports betting apps.
Can I withdraw my money if not in Michigan?
Yes, you can access your funds even if you leave the state.
What sports can I bet on?
Any major professional or collegiate sport that the Michigan Gaming Control Board approves at the request of sports betting operators.
Will Michigan share online poker liquidity?
The internet casino legislation was amended and no longer calls for the Michigan Gaming Control Board to enter into compacts with poker sites in other states. However, the state could still choose to go that route theoretically under existing law. Sharing online poker liquidity likely won’t happen for Michigan until the ambiguity of the 1961 Wire Act is finally put to rest in the federal courts.