Legal online gambling is coming to Michigan courtesy of legislation signed into law by Governor Gretchen Whitmer in December 2019. Under the Lawful Internet Gaming Act, land-based casinos may apply for licenses to offer online gambling to customers who are 21 or older and located within state lines.
Soon, Michigan online casinos will be authorized to provide a wide range of real money slots, table games and live dealer games.
The Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) projects the first online casinos will be cleared to launch in early 2021 after regulators adopt further regulations and begin issuing licenses.
Legal Online Casinos in Michigan
Each of Michigan’s 23 tribal casinos and three commercial casinos may apply for a license to offer online gambling. That leaves space for up to 26 individual online gambling brands should every land-based casino in the state apply for a license.
Most Michigan casinos will choose to partner with third-party online gambling providers to run their internet gaming platforms. Major brands such as BetMGM, BetRivers, DraftKings and FanDuel are just a few of the names that are likely to offer online gambling to complement their sports betting products in Michigan.
For example, PokerStars is partnered with the Little Traverse Bay of Odawa Indians to offer online casinos and poker in Michigan. Other major brands will form similar partnerships with Michigan’s various casino operators to gain access to the market.
If the Michigan market develops along a timeline seen in other states, we should begin to see a flurry of activity as major online gaming brands announce partnerships with land-based casinos. As such announcements are made, we will update this page with all key details.
BetMGM has not officially confirmed it will offer online gambling in Michigan, but that seems like an afterthought at this point. It is very likely we will see the launch of BetMGM Casino in Michigan sooner rather than later.
Roar Digital, which is operated as a partnership between MGM Resorts International and GVC Holdings, already operates the BetMGM Sportsbook at the Grand Detroit. The launch of an online casino under the same brand would follow MGM’s standard operating procedure so far in the legal US online gambling industry.
BetRivers, the online gaming brand of land-based casino operator Rush Street Gaming, is coming to Michigan in partnership with Little River Casino Resort. In a June 2020 press release, BetRivers announced it will be launching online sports betting and casino games for Michigan residents as soon as the gaming board gives the green light.
BetRivers Casino comes to Michigan with experience in other states, most notably Pennsylvania, where it offers a large selection of slots and table games to complement its sports betting offerings. All indications are that BetRivers Casino will be a competitive player in the Michigan online casino market.
Currently, customers can pre-register at the BetRivers website to be notified when it officially launches.
A PointsBet press release issued in early 2020 states the company plans to offer mobile sports betting and an online casino in partnership with the tribe that operates the Northern Waters Casino Resort.
What form a PointsBet Casino may take remains to be seen. PointsBet is a known entity when it comes to sports betting, but it does not yet operate an online casino in any other jurisdiction.
DraftKings is best known for its daily fantasy and sports betting platforms, but the company also operates a full-featured online casino complete with table games, slots and live dealer games.
Players can access the casino from within the DraftKings Sportsbook app or download a standalone app specifically for the casino. DraftKings has not confirmed it will offer casino games in Michigan, but state law and prior experience in other states indicate DraftKings will likely seek to offer online gambling as well.
Like DraftKings, FanDuel is better known for its sports betting products but also offers online casino games in states where permitted. FanDuel has not confirmed that it will offer casino gambling in Michigan, but the launch of a FanDuel Casino is likely just a matter of time.
PokerStars was one of the first online gaming operators to confirm it is coming to Michigan. In a press release issued in January 2020, PokerStars announced it has an agreement in place with the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians to offer online gambling and sports betting in Michigan.
Although better known for its online poker offerings, PokerStars does intend to run a gambling site in Michigan as well. PokerStars already runs online casinos in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, and in both states offers a medium-sized collection of slots, card and table games, video poker and live dealer games.
William Hill Casino
William Hill is partnered with the Grand Traverse Ban of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians to offer online gambling and sports betting throughout Michigan. William Hill states it plans to launch online gambling as soon as it is permitted under Michigan regulations.
Up until recently, William Hill US has been focused exclusively on sports betting in states where it is active. In a May 2020 update, William Hill revealed it has accelerated development of new casino products for the US market in response to the coronavirus pandemic, which significantly disrupted the company’s core sports betting business.
Barstool Sports Casino
In January 2020, Barstool Sports announced it is entering the online gambling and sports betting industries in partnership with Penn National Gaming. Under the agreement, Barstool Sports will be Penn National’s “exclusive gaming partner” for up to 40 years on retail sports betting, online sports betting and online gambling.
Barstool Sports has not detailed its exact plans for the Michigan Market, but the Wall Street Journal reported at the time that Michigan is high on the list of states in which the Barstool Sports brand will launch online sports betting (and likely online gambling as well).
Churchill Downs Inc. has a partnership in place with the Hannahville Indian Community, operators of Island Resort & Casino, to offer online gambling and sports betting under the BetAmerica brand.
BetAmerica Casino operates in several other states already and will come to Michigan with experience on its side. Look for a healthy selection of online slots, table games and live dealer games.
Golden Nugget Casino
Golden Nugget Online is coming to Michigan through a partnership agreement with the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, which operates Ojibwa Casinos in Marquette and Baraga.
Under the terms of the partnership, Golden Nugget will operate on Ojibwa’s online gaming license to offer mobile sports betting and online gambling in Michigan.
Mobile Gambling Apps in Michigan
Most online casinos in Michigan will launch mobile gambling apps for iOS and Android devices. The online providers that have confirmed they will be operating in Michigan have already demonstrated the ability to develop high quality gambling apps that meet all security regulations in other states.
Apple guidelines permit gambling apps to be listed in the App Store if those apps are legal and licensed. Gamblers can find the official app of their preferred online casino by either visiting the casino website from a mobile device for a download link or search for the casino by name in the App Store.
Google does not allow gambling apps in the Play Store, even if those apps are legal and licensed. However, players can visit the website of a legal online casino to download the app directly. Players may need to adjust their settings to allow the installation of third-party apps, but every online casino provides simple, step-by-step instructions for getting started.
Michigan Online Gambling Law
The Lawful Internet Gaming Act laid the groundwork for legal online gambling. Key points from the law are discussed below, but the MGCB will be issuing additional regulations in the future as well covering issues such as which games are authorized, technical standards and more.
Under the Lawful Internet Gaming Act, tribal and commercial casinos across the state may launch online casinos either independently or in concert with establishing gaming providers. Given that most land-based casinos have little-to-no-experience with online gambling, the majority will likely partner with big-name gaming providers.
Michigan gambling law sets a minimum age of 21 to play online and requires operators to verify the age, identity and physical location of each customer prior to allowing them to establish accounts or to place wagers.
Each player will be asked to provide his or her name, address and the last four digits of his or her social security number. The responsibility of verifying this information lies with each online gambling operator.
Michigan online casinos must also take reasonable measures to prevent anyone under or anyone whose name appears on the responsible gaming database from establishing an account.
Responsible Gaming Database
The MGCB is tasked with managing a responsible gaming database that will identify players who are not eligible to participate in online gambling. Sec. 12 (1) of the Lawful Internet Gaming Act requires the MGCB to add individuals to the list who meet any of the following criteria:
- Individuals who have been convicted of a felony, a crime of moral turpitude or a crime involving gambling
- Any individual who has “performed an act or has a notorious or unsavory reputation such that the individual’s participation in internet gaming under this act would adversely affect public confidence and trust in internet gaming”
- Individuals who have violated the Lawful Internet Gaming Act or another gaming-related law
- Individuals whose names appear on exclusion lists maintained in Michigan or other US jurisdictions
- Individuals who have voluntarily self-excluded from gambling in Michigan
The Lawful Internet Gaming Act allows each land-based casino to operate a maximum of one online casino brand and one online poker brand (referred to as “skins” in industry speak).
Sec. 4 (7) of the Act explains:
“An internet gaming operator may offer internet gaming under a maximum of 2 separate brands, 1 for each of interactive poker and other casino style games. This subsection does not prohibit an internet gaming operator from using fewer than 2 brands or from using a single brand to offer any combination of interactive poker or other casino style games.”
This passage is a bit awkwardly worded, but we interpret it to mean that a licensee may operate one brand for an online casino and a separate brand for a poker site or that it may use a single brand to operate both, but is still limited to a single online casino skin in either arrangement.
Types of Casino Games Authorized
Licensed online casinos in Michigan are permitted to offer a full menu of common gambling games. Slots, poker, blackjack, video poker and other games “typically offered at a casino” are permitted under state law.
The Lawful Internet Gambling Act orders the MGCB to promulgate rules detailing which games may offered by licensees.
Sec. 10 (a) of the Act states the MGCB must determine “the types of internet games to be offered, which must include, but need not be limited to, poker, blackjack, cards, slots, and other games typically offered at a casino, but does not include pick numbers or other lottery games typically offered by the bureau of lottery…”
Licensing Fees and Taxes
Casinos that wish to offer online gaming must apply for a license from the Michigan Gaming Control Board and pay an initial application fee of $50,000. If approved, each operator is to pay an initial licensing fee of $100,000 and $50,000 per year thereafter.
The state also imposes a graduated tax rate based on each operator’s annual adjusted gross receipts (AGR) as follows:
- 20% for AGR less than $4 million
- 22% for AGR of $4 million or more but less than $8 million
- 24% for AGR of $8 million or more but less than $10 million
- 26% for AGR of $10 million or more but less than $12 million
- 28% for AGR of $12 million or more
Michigan Gambling FAQ
Do I have to be a resident to play online?
No. Michigan law only requires that customers be 21 or older and physically present within Michigan when playing online. Residency is not required to participate in online gaming as long as the individual is located within state lines.
What is the minimum age to gamble online in Michigan?
All customers must be 21 or older to gamble online in Michigan.
When will the first online casinos launch in Michigan?
Currently, the Michigan Gaming Control board estimates it will be ready to approve the first online casinos to launch in early 2021.