- US Online Poker
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Michigan became the sixth US state with legal online poker when lawmakers passed the Lawful Internet Wagering Act (HB 4311) in 2019. The law authorizes up to 15 Michigan poker sites, a maximum of one apiece for each of the state’s eligible casino license holders.
In practice, poker is a sufficiently niche product that this limit won’t be approached. There are only two brands known to be coming to the state, and a third which seems likely but has not made firm plans.
Michigan online poker finally launched in January 2021, exactly one week after the arrival of Michigan online casinos and sportsbooks. Less than two months later, with the launch of BetMGM Poker, it became the only state other than New Jersey to offer players the choice of more than one legal online poker room.
Michigan online poker went live when PokerStars opened its virtual doors in January 2021. The worldwide leader had a monopoly on the action in the state for two months. Then, BetMGM, which already had its sportsbook and online casino up and running in the state, joined the party with BetMGM Poker in March 2021. With the launch, Michigan became only the second state in the country with multiple online poker options for its citizens.
The third major US poker operator, WSOP, hasn’t announced any plans for Michigan. Nor has its parent company Caesars. It would be unusual for a major brand to sit out such a large market as Michigan, however, so we may hear some news from WSOP eventually.
Unlike online casinos and sportsbooks, online poker generally isn’t available to play in browser. Rather, there is typically a download client for desktop computers, as well as mobile apps for iOS and Android. The good news is that the geolocation technology is included in the software, so there’s no need to install a browser plug-in as there is for casinos and sportsbooks. Here’s a closer look at the different sites that you can play in Michigan.
PokerStars is the largest poker operator in the world. However, the site is polarizing among players. It’s known for having the slickest, most reliable software out there, good customer service, and a decent array of games. On the other hand, it often faces criticism for being stingy with its promotions and making moves that are unfriendly to professional players, such as charging a high rake on certain games and limiting multi-table play.
With that said, its welcome package offer two choices to new players. The easier option for casual players to redeem requires only a $20 deposit. For this amount, you receive $30 in free play. Make sure to use promo code FREE30 to claim this bonus.
The alternative bonus is worth much more, but takes more work. Promotional code STARS600 will cause the site to match every dollar of your first three deposits, up to $600 total. However, be aware that there is a playthrough requirement for this bonus. You will have to contribute $3.60 in rake for every bonus dollar cleared.
BetMGM Poker became the second online poker room in the state in March 2021. The debut put an end to the speculation about which brand would represent MGM in Michigan, since strategic partner Entain also owns partypoker. When it was all said and done, however, the use of the BetMGM brand allows for easier integration with the online casino and sportsbook of the same name. BetMGM is not a terribly big player in other markets, but Michigan may represent an opportunity for a fresh start for the company.
BetMGM Poker has an extremely generous signup bonus for new players. Upon registration, you get $25 free. In addition, BetMGM will match your first deposit dollar-for-dollar up to $600.
As more online poker sites open their doors in Michigan, it will become more difficult to keep track of who is active in the state. For the moment, PokerStars and BetMGM are the only games in town. However, once Caesars/Eldorado finds a Michigan casino partner, the debut of WSOP.com will be only a matter of time. Additionally, Parx Casino already has a deal in place with the Gun Lake Casino, so it’s not out of the question that a Parx Poker site could launch at some point. At any rate, if you’re curious about where things stand, consult the table below.
|Bay Mills||None expected||--|
|Four Winds||Four Winds||Uncertain|
|Little River||None expected||--|
|MGM Grand||BetMGM||Mar 22, 2021|
|Northern Waters||None expected||--|
|Odawa||PokerStars||Jan 29, 2021|
|Soaring Eagle||Soaring Eagle||Uncertain|
|Turtle Creek||None expected||--|
Players in Michigan now have access to most major forms of poker — including cash games and tournaments in a number of hold’em, Omaha, and stud variants. No-limit Texas hold’em remains the most popular poker game and the one popularized by televised broadcasts from the likes of the World Series of Poker and World Poker Tour.
Stakes typically range from a few pennies into the thousands of dollars for both tournaments and cash games in other regulated markets.
With PokerStars currently the only player in the market, players will have access to its seasonal events. These include Championship of Online Poker (“COOP”) events in the fall and spring, which in Michigan will presumably be known as MICOOP and MISCOOP. In other states, it also has smaller Summer and Winter Series that lack the COOP branding, and occasionally other series like Bounty Builder.
Partypoker has scaled down its tournament offerings in New Jersey over the years, mostly because its traffic has dwindled too far to offer big guarantees. Depending on how it fares in Michigan, we could see bigger series once again at a Partypoker or BetMGM site.
Because competitors are only a button press away, online poker sites often have bonuses and promotions that bear the opportunity for extra playing cash, tournament tickets, and other goodies. Some of these promotions could potentially relate to real-world events, like the WSOP or WPT. For the most part, however, online poker bonuses in Michigan are going to fall in one of the following categories:
Michigan’s gaming regulations are fairly straightforward, so players have access to the same cashiering options as in other states. Some of the most common deposit methods include:
Sites usually have fewer methods for withdrawing funds, although ACH and online bank transfers are typically among the options.
Players should always check a site’s terms to become familiar with what banking options are available before signing up for an account.
PokerStars and BetMGM are the only sites for legal real money poker in Michigan. However, players who are unhappy with that situation for whatever reason do have another option, in the form of sweepstakes online poker sites such as Global Poker.
Players that use Global Poker don’t use real money but rather play with one of two virtual currencies — gold coins and sweeps coins. Such sweepstakes sites are legally able to welcome players from Michigan and nearly every other US state.
While some will always prefer real-money online poker, sweepstakes sites do offer players in Michigan a chance to compete in larger player pools than are currently available among traditional real-money US poker sites.
Here are answers to some of the most common questions related to online poker in Michigan.
Yes. Real-money online poker became legal in Michigan in 2019, though it took over a year to launch. The first legal real money online poker site in Michigan was PokerStars, which went online in January 2021. BetMGM launched its site in March 2021.
Sweepstakes online poker sites like Global Poker also welcome Michiganders.
Those wishing to play online poker in Michigan have to be at least 21 years old. The same is true for those wishing to gamble or play poker in most of the state’s casinos, although there are a few tribal casinos where the minimum age is either 18 or 19.
Players must also be physically located within the state in order to play at a legal MI poker site. Residency is not a requirement, but location is. Sites use geolocation technology in order to ensure that out-of-state players can not participate in their real-money games.
Yes. The Stars Group (now part of Flutter) has a partnership with the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians. It launched its poker, casino and sportsbook products in January 2021.
Yes, though not right away. Michigan lawmakers passed a bill guaranteeing the MGCB the ability to enter interstate poker compacts at the end of 2020. Furthermore, a US court of appeals upheld the district court’s ruling that the Wire Act does not apply to forms of gambling other than sports betting, removing the main legal barrier to arrange such a compact.
The MGCB is currently in negotiations with New Jersey to enter a liquidity-sharing agreement similar to the one it already has in place with Nevada. It will likely be a year or more before Michiganders can actually start playing against their peers in other states, however.
The Michigan Gaming Control Board regulates all online gambling in the state, including online poker.
Legal online poker in Michigan traces its roots back to an ultimately unsuccessful 2016 effort spearheaded by Sen. Mike Kowall. He introduced the first version of the Lawful Internet Gaming Act that year, a title which persisted until its eventual passage three years later.
The proposal required several more revisions and the addition of sports betting provisions to clear both chambers of the legislature in 2018, but it would not immediately become law. Former governor Rick Snyder vetoed the package sponsored by Rep. Brandt Iden as one of his final acts in office, setting legalization back a full year.
Iden tried again in 2019, and this time it managed to stick. With Sen. Curtis Hertel Jr. smoothing some friction between Iden and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, she signed the bill into law just before the holiday break. The first online casinos and sportsbooks went live in January 2021. The first poker site followed shortly afterwards.