Michigan Poker & Gambling Laws

Online Poker in MichiganThe people of Michigan have been enjoying legalized gambling venues since the early 1930s. Gambling is common in Michigan and adds a lot of money to their state. Online poker is no different in this aspect. People from Michigan love playing poker online. The state has not passed any laws at this point making online poker legal or illegal so the legality of it is still up in the air.

Are There Any Poker Sites Accepting Players From Michigan?

Yes! If you live in Michigan then you have several choices for playing poker online. The majority of the major online poker sites stopped accepting players from the United States after Black Friday in 2011, but there are several smaller sites that continue to accept players from the US. Even though they have a smaller player base, you can still win a lot of money at these poker sites.

Is it Legal to Play Online Poker in Michigan?

The legality of online poker is up in the air in Michigan. This is a common occurrence in most states. A few states have legalized online gambling, and a few states have made it illegal to gamble online, but the majority of the states have not passed any legislation referring to playing poker online. We have researched the laws in Michigan, and we have found some laws that could pertain to playing poker online even though they don’t mention online poker specifically. We have an outline of the interesting gambling laws below:

  • Michigan Section 432.202 defines gambling and gaming as Gambling operation means the conduct of authorized gambling games in a casino. Gaming means to deal, operate, carry on, conduct, maintain or expose or offer for play any gambling game or gambling operation.
  • Michigan Law 432.218 describes the gambling the states considers illegal. Almost all of these laws pertain to the operator of illegal gambling sites. Conducting a gambling operation where wagering is used or to be used without a license issued by the board. This is punishable by imprisonment for not more than 10 years or a fine of not more than $100,000.00, or both. [1]
  • The laws of Michigan seem to be more concerned with the operators of illegal gambling businesses than the players.
  • Social poker games seem to be acceptable as long as no one is taking rake from the game or charging any kind of fee to play the game.

We are not experts on the law code of Michigan. Please contact a lawyer if you are concerned about the legality of playing poker online in Michigan.

Michigan Gambling History

The United States has a long history of gambling. In most states the first legalized gambling was pari-mutuel horse racing, and Michigan is no exception to this rule. The Racing Act of 1933 passed in 1933 to authorize and regulate pari-mutuel horse racing. Betting at the horse races is still a very active event in Michigan.

The horse races were a very profitable adventure for Michigan, but the residents of Michigan wanted more gambling options. In 1972, the voters of Michigan approved a state lottery by a 2 to 1 margin. They made it clear to the state that they were open to and long for more gambling.

The lottery continued to grow throughout the years and started offering more and more ways for people to gamble. Michigan joined Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Virginia in 1996 to offer a multi-state lottery game called “The Big Game.” This was a success and benefitted all the states due to increased revenue from lottery sales.

In 2003, the lottery added even more ways for players to gamble by authorizing the sale of Club Keno and Pull Tabs at bars and restaurants. Of course, the establishments that sold these items had to obtain a license, but this proved to add even more revenue. In 2007, Michigan contributed a record $748.9 million to the School Aid Fund from lottery sales.

Michigan signed a compact with the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe in 1993 to allow the tribe to build a casino. The casino opened in 2004. Several more compacts were signed with tribes that same year, and the state signed more compacts in 1998. There are a total of 11 compacts in Michigan allowing the Indian Tribes to have casinos. These tribes have opened 19 casinos.

In 1996, Michigan voters approved a proposal to authorize 3 casinos to be built in Detroit. Greek Town, MGM, and Motor City casinos are now operating in Detroit and governed by the Michigan Gaming Control Board.

Michigan also has charitable gambling for nonprofit organizations that was approved in 1972. These charitable gaming events included bingo, millionaire parties, raffles, and game tickets. There are many charitable bingo halls throughout the state of Michigan. Anyone wishing to have a charitable gaming event must go through the gaming board and receive proper licensing. [2]

Legalized Gambling Options in Michigan

As you can see from the gambling history in Michigan, the state offers many legal gambling venues. You can bet at the race tracks, play casino games at the many casinos available around the state, play the lottery which includes instant games, play bingo in almost every county, and you can partake in several charitable games offered throughout the year.

Will Michigan Legalize Online Poker in the Future?

Michigan actually made a move in 1999 to make gambling on the internet illegal, but this law was eventually amended. Some senators from Michigan have actually been pushing for legalizing internet poker on a federal level. We think that Michigan will legalize online poker sometime in the near future. It is unclear if the state will wait on a federal mandate or legalize it within the state.


  1. Jump up ^ Michigan Gambling Laws
  2. Jump up ^ Michigan Gambling History