On December 20, 2019, Michigan became the sixth state to officially legalize regulated online poker.
This was no small feat for the state of Michigan as just one year prior, lawmakers in the state had done all the work necessary to bring online gaming to the Wolverine State only to have it shockingly vetoed as one of the last acts of outgoing Governor Rick Snyder.
Having to start from scratch, Michigan representative redoubled their efforts and spent the better part of 2019 trying to come to an agreement that would allow the nearly 10 million residents of Michigan access to online poker, sports betting, casino games, and more.
On one of the last days of legislation in 2019, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed a package of online gaming bills into law, paving the way for the return of regulated online poker to Michigan.
Unlike what took place in Pennsylvania, where it took two years before online poker was actually live, the expansion of online poker in Michigan took place at a much swifter pace with PokerStars launching the first regulated online poker room in the state in January 2021. With deals between online poker operators and land-based casinos now in place, having been approved by the Michigan Gaming Control Board in 2020, many industry experts expect additional online poker offerings to roll out in 2021.
Michigan Online Poker Sites
With a population of nearly 10 million, Michigan is one of the premier states that online poker operators will need to bring their services to in order to expand their individual U.S. networks. It’s not yet known how many online poker choices Michiganders will eventually have access to, but it is expected that other major online poker operators will decide to join PokerStars in the coming year. Here are some of the current and potential online poker rooms that could be active in 2021.
The worldwide leader in online poker officially launched their online poker room in the last week of January 2021. PokerStars has rolled out their complete online poker client offering players a wide variety of cash games, Sit & Gos, and multi-table tournaments. PokerStars is partnered with the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians Gaming Authority allowing them ‘first skin market access’ to Michigan which also allows them to offer casino gaming and sports betting through the FOX BET brand.
Already up and running in New Jersey, and currently the only online poker operator in Pennsylvania, PokerStars is a natural fit for Michigan with their world-class online poker software and ability to offer the widest variety of poker games on the market.
The MGM Grand Detroit is one of the largest land-based casinos in the state and with MGM’s partnership with online poker operator partypoker, it would make sense for the partypoker brand to want a piece of Michigan. Currently, when it comes to the United States, partypoker only has dealings in New Jersey. They provide the software for their own branded online poker room in the Garden State as well as for BetMGM and BorgataPoker.com. partypoker is moving forward with plans to expand into Nevada and so Michigan may also be another tentpole state for in which they can expand their network.
Even though Caesars Windsor attracts plenty of customers from Michigan, it’s not on the Michigan side of the border making it so WSOP.com would not be able to use it as a partnership to launch in Michigan. Whether or not WSOP.com decides to make a stand in Michigan may depend on if the state decides to let online operators merge player pools with other states that have already legalized online poker..
888poker finds themselves as a provider of online poker services for a number of entities, including their own NJ branded poker site, WSOP.com, and the entire state of Delaware. They may have the opportunity to be a backend operator for a brick-and-mortar casino looking to offer online poker under its own name or partner up with a casino and try an expand its own footprint in the U.S.
Michigan Online Poker History
Michigan is officially the sixth U.S. state to legalize online poker. On December 20, 2019, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed into law a package of bills that expanded the scope of online gaming, which included online poker.
Michiganders nearly had access to online poker a full year earlier when, in 2018, lawmakers passed bill H4926 which would have made online poker and online casino legal in the state. The only thing needed to make it law was the signature of outgoing Governor Rick Snyder. Most experts in the online gaming industry expected him to sign within days of its passing. However, in a surprising turn, Snyder vetoed the bill as one of his last acts in office sending lawmakers back to the drawing board when it came to online gaming.
Throughout 2019, Michigan representatives attempted to regain the footing they had lost with the veto. The State’s House and Senate attempted to strike a deal with Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer that would allow for the passage of two key bills, H4916 and H4311, and bring online poker, online casino, sports betting, and the tax revenue it will generate to Michigan.
Whitmer was very involved with the final revisions of the bills and so when, with only days left in the legislative calendar year, they crossed her desk – she signed them into law, effectively bringing regulated online poker to Michigan.
Within weeks of the signing, The Stars Group, parent company to online poker site PokerStars, announced a marketing access deal with the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians Gaming Authority that would allow them “first skin market access” to Michigan and potentially make way for the online poker giant to launch in Michigan.
Currently, online poker in Michigan is not a part of any multi-state player liquidity deal making it so that any online poker room to go live in the state would offer online poker exclusively to residents and visitors of the state of Michigan. However, should the state decide to open its borders to other states with legalized online poker, it would be one of the most dominant player bases with a population of nearly 10 million.
It took just over a year for the first online poker room to go live when on January 29, 2021 PokerStars officially became the first online operator to offer real-money cash games and tournaments to the players in Michigan. While online poker traditionally makes up a very small part of the gaming revenue of any state where online gaming is legalized, other land-based casinos are expected to offer it as a larger part of their own brand.
MI Online Poker Community
The PocketFives Michigan Poker Community is a resource for online poker players in Michigan. The community is home to rankings, site reviews, the latest news, and a dedicated forum for legal and regulated online poker in the Wolverine State.
Live Poker In Michigan
Michigan is a thriving hub for live poker. Michiganders from all over the state have plenty of opportunities to hop in a cash game or register for a tournament at any one of the over forty properties that offer live poker in the state or just on the other side of the border. From rooms that play host to large tournaments to venues that only house a couple tables, no matter where you live in Michigan you can be involved in a hand of poker before you know it.
Here’s a look at some of the larger up-and-running poker rooms in Michigan.
MGM Grand Detroit – This 17 table room is one of the largest in the state and offers regularly running No Limit Hold’em and Pot Limit Omaha cash games. Tournaments run every Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday.
Motor City Casino – One of the most prominent poker venues in the state, this 17-table venue in Detroit offers NLHE cash games as high as $10/$20 on weekends as well as the occasional $20/$40 Mixed Game. Weekend and Thursday tournaments all have under $200 buy-ins.
Greektown Casino Hotel – This 13-table room features regularly running NLHE and PLO cash games as well as the occasional $25/$25 PLO Hi cash game. Small buy-in tournaments run four times per week.
FireKeepers Casino – Easily one of the largest venues in the state with 26 tables. They offer twice-a-day tournaments every day of the week except Sundays, when they offer an evening MTT.
Gun Lake Casino – One of the few Michigan venues that offer NLHE cash games as high as $5/$10.
Michigan Online Poker FAQ’s
Is online poker legal in Michigan?
Yes. On December 20th, 2019 Michigan Governor Grethen Whitmer signed a number of gambling expansion bills into law, one of which allows for online poker operators to offer the residents of Michigan online poker.
Which sites will be running in Michigan?
PokerStars has already launched the first real-money regulated online poker site in Michigan, however, there is plenty of opportunity for the major players in the online poker industry to get involved. With a population of nearly 10 million, Michigan is one of the largest states with the ability to offer online poker making it enticing for online operators to be involved.
In addition to PokerStars and their deal with the Little Traverse Bay Bands tribe which allowed them “first skin market access” to Michigan, there is the MGM Grand Detroit which could launch a skin of playMGM Poker or partypoker. If the ability to share player pool liquidity takes shape, other sites like WSOP.com or 888poker may move to launch their own branded skins as well.
Can I play on Michigan sites even if I don’t live in the state?
The trend in the United States has been that a player will not need to be a resident of Michigan to play on Michigan sites, however, you will need to be verified to be physically inside the state’s borders in order to play. Geolocation tools help determine the location of your device and, if you are in Michigan, you should be allowed to participate in all forms of online gaming, including online poker.
What payment methods will be available?
Each online poker operator will have their own ways of allowing players to transfer money on and off a site, however it is in their best interest to make it as easy as possible. Expect deposit methods to include credit cards, e-wallets, direct deposits in brick-and-mortar locations, and even wire transfers in some instances.
Which poker games are available online?
The types of poker games that will be available online will depend on which operators decide to launch, however you can be certain that No Limit Hold’em cash games and tournaments will be prominent in any Michigan online poker site. In addition to No Limit Hold’em, Pot Limit Omaha is another very popular variant that is often offered. Nearly all major online poker sites will offer cash games, on-demand Sit & Gos, and a complete schedule of multi-table tournaments.
Will other online gaming be offered in Michigan?
Yes. In addition to online poker, the bills that were signed into law cover a wide spectrum of online gaming including sports betting, online casino games (slots, blackjack, roulette, etc.) and daily fantasy sports.
Who can I play poker with in MI?
As of now, any residents of Michigan will be able to play against other residents of Michigan as well as anyone who is located within the state’s borders. Some industry experts expect Michigan to follow in the footsteps of Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware by opening up their borders to allow players to be a part of the multi-state shared liquidity player pool, which would make for larger online tournaments and round-the-clock cash games. However for now, until that is in place, competition is only between players located inside of Michigan.
Can I play poker with players from all over the world?
As stated above, players who play in different counties all over the world will not be allowed to log in and play in Michigan games. The best chance Michiganders have to increase the player pool is for lawmakers to embrace the multi-state pact with other states that currently have online poker.
Do I have to download anything in order to play online poker?
Some sites offer online poker in a browser, however the majority of online sites will have you download and install a client that allows them to keep you updated with the latest version of their software.
What are loyalty programs?
When Michigan online poker finally goes live, online poker operators are going to want to earn your business and they will quite often provide a loyalty program that rewards players for playing with them. A player may earn points every time a real money game is raked and those points can be turned into rewards including free tournament tickets, merchandise, and sometimes even cash being put back directly into your accounts.
What is a deposit bonus?
In order to earn your business on their site, online operators will use a deposit bonus as an incentive to put money on a site. The bonus is when the online operator matches a player’s deposit up to a set amount as the player plays on the site. Normally a player has a limited window in which they need to play in order for the site to fully match the initial deposit.