- US Online Poker
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The young law authorizes more than two dozen Michigan poker sites, a maximum of one apiece for each of the state’s tribal and commercial casinos. Gaming officials are currently working through the rule-making and application process with the goal of issuing the first licenses before the end of 2020.
There are not yet any real-money poker sites operating legally in Michigan, but that could change this year.
The law permits poker operators to access the market in partnership with one of the state’s land-based casinos, which act as the primary licensees. Each may offer online poker under a single brand, creating room for more than 25 Michigan online poker sites.
In practice, however, there won’t be more than a few.
Poker remains a comparatively small form of online gambling, and a lack of a nationwide multi-state poker framework means it’s hard to get excited about any one of them. That said, Michigan’s top-ten population and proclivity for other forms of gambling should make it a more attractive market than most — particularly for the largest operators.
Michigan online poker should be available for both desktop computers and smartphones like iOS and Android devices.
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PokerStars was one of the first sites to secure its entry into Michigan under a partnership with the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians. Its new parent company, Flutter, also has access to the market via the license of MotorCity Casino.
Partypoker also has a table reserved in Michigan. It is part of the Roar Digital joint venture between GVC and MGM, the latter of which owns a flagship MGM Grand property in Detroit.
That’s the full list of likely candidates, though it’s possible more competitors will enter the ring. The availability of Michigan online sports betting has drawn most major gambling companies into the market, a few of which dabble — or may consider dabbling — in poker.
Caesars does not yet have a confirmed deal that would allow it to launch a WSOP Michigan site.
Players in Michigan can expect to 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.
The selection of online poker tournaments available to Michigan players will largely depend on which sites launch in the state.
PokerStars’ path to market makes it apparent players will have access to its seasonal “COOP” events, perhaps including a primary Michigan Championships of Online Poker (MCOOP). The New Jersey (NJCOOP) and Pennsylvania (PACOOP) variants have become the flagship online poker series in those markets.
Partypoker’s entry would also create space for some of its recurring offerings, though it seems to have retired the “Super Series” moniker it trialed in NJ. Perhaps a Michigan Powerfest could be in the cards, or an extension of the brand’s long-standing alliance with the WPT.
The big question mark is WSOP, which does not yet have known access to the Michigan market. Caesars offers WSOP online bracelet and ring events to customers in Nevada and NJ, but its reach is so far limited to those two states.
Poker players in Michigan should keep an eye out for welcome bonuses and other promotions at launch. These might involve a simple reward for signing up, giving players a small amount of cash and/or tournament entries with which to get started.
Online poker sites also frequently offer those who deposit for the first time a matching bonus based on the amount. These bonuses often come with play-through requirements, meaning the player has to contribute a fixed amount of rake and/or tournament fees before being able to collect.
Once regulations are hammered out and Michigan online poker sites launch, players should have plenty of options for depositing and withdrawing funds. Some of the most common depositing 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.
While players in Michigan await real-money options, there exists an alternative in 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 the first regulated sites have yet to launch.
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.
Not yet, but it should be soon.
The Stars Group (now part of Flutter) has a partnership with the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, which means PokerStars Michigan will likely launch once regulations are in place.
Other than the timeline, this is perhaps the biggest unanswered question surrounding online poker in Michigan.
While a working version of the Lawful Internet Gambling Act did contain provisions for liquidity sharing across state lines, that language was ultimately removed from the final version. Lawmakers, however, did not intend to prevent multi-state poker. Exclusion was rather pushed by the state lottery over concerns that large interstate slot jackpots would hurt its ticket sales.
A legislative effort is now underway to clarify that poker sites may indeed join multi-state networks.
Here’s the proposed amendment:
The Michigan Gaming Control Board may enter into agreements with other jurisdictions, including Indian tribes, to facilitate, administer and regulate multijurisdictional internet gaming for poker by internet gaming operators to the extent that entering into the agreement is consistent with state and federal laws and if the internet gaming under the agreement is conducted only in the United States.
Operators pay a tax rate ranging from 20%-28% depending on their adjusted gross revenue, along with an additional tax based on their land-based partnership.
Those aligned with tribal casinos pay an amount determined by the tribe’s compact with the state, while those working with one of the three commercial casinos in pay an extra 1.25% to the city of Detroit.
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.