On paper, it seems as if Michigan would be a prime candidate to regulate online poker and legal real money Internet poker. Boasting one of the most active gambling and betting communities in the Unites States, Michigan is one of only a handful of states that permits all forms of real-money wagering, including real cash poker betting. Furthermore, the Motor City of Detroit is one of the largest metropolises to inhabit multiple casinos and legit poker gambling card rooms. And before long, Michigan’s lottery will go online bringing Internet gambling to the people of MI for the first time.

With that said, Michigan’s lawful poker and real money gambling legislators have yet to seriously address the issue of regulated gambling and Internet poker. Instead, it appears that MI, the Wolverine State, is waiting for other states to take the lead on legal poker website betting, and then re-evaluating its stance based on their legit betting performance.

Given that three states have already rolled out their iGaming Internet poker and real cash gambling website operations, it may not be long before Michigan makes its position clear on poker website real money betting. At the very least, 2021 should prove to be an active year in the MI Internet poker field.

Home of the Great Lakes, Michigan gamblers will be happy to know that signing up for an account at any of our real money US poker sites is very easy.

Michigan Gives Mixed Signals Regarding Online Gambling

In 2013, Michigan’s gambling and betting industry experienced two major shakeups: one that might pave the way for regulated iGaming Internet poker lawful poker websites, and another that stunted the growth of MI State’s real money poker industry.

In October, the Michigan Gaming Control Board proposed a series of changes that would all but put an end to charity real cash poker rooms [1]. A nearly $200 million a year industry, Michigan’s charitable poker gambling facilities have raised over $100 million in real money poker betting revenues for various charities over the past decade. But due to the high rate of crime associated with the Texas Hold’em poker and general poker gambling industry, including fraud, robberies and weapon offenses, the state feels compelled to take action on legal poker betting.

However, there are some that believe that the Great Lakes State’s officials are cracking under the pressure imposed by the state’s brick and mortar casinos and live real money poker rooms, which are losing poker betting business to the charitable legit poker rooms. Gaming control Executive Director Rick Kalm denied these allegations, claiming that casinos hardly make any real money from real cash poker compared with other betting and forms of gambling.

Advocates of Michigan’s philanthropic lawful poker gambling facilities, such as MI State Rep. Jeff Farrington, are calling for more moderate measures. Instead of imposing strict regulations on all real money poker betting, Farrington suggests the need for an improved framework. In fact, most proponents of MI State’s charitable gambling and poker betting endeavors believe that closing the real cash poker rooms will have a devastating effect on both the charities that rely on them for funding and the state’s unemployment rate.

In more promising news, Michigan recently confirmed that as of Q4 2014, its real money lottery gambling games will be available online [2]. Pollard Banknote and NeoGames will provide the state’s iLottery Internet gambling services, which are projected to generate nearly half-a-billion dollars in real cash betting revenue for the state of Michigan in its first eight years.

Online lotto services will only be available to inhabitants of the state of MI, and subject to a myriad of responsible gambling and betting guidelines – similar to those already in place in jurisdictions that have legalized online gambling and poker websites where gambling enthusiast can play legal Internet poker for real money.

Latest Michigan Poker News

Michigan Regulators Consider Eliminating Charity Poker Rooms Michigan Regulators Consider Eliminating Charity Poker Rooms
The Michigan Gaming Control Board has proposed rule changes that would shut down all permanent charity poker rooms within the state’s borders.…

Can Players from Michigan Play Online Poker?

YesGiven MI’s reputation as a relatively liberal state, it comes as little surprise that Michigan’s residents can register for a real cash poker account at all US poker websites in 2021. And although Michigan hasn’t officially regulated iGaming Internet poker for real money yet, there’s no reason why you can’t grind out real cash poker games, SNGs and MTTs from the comfort of your own bedroom or home office on top poker websites with Texas Hold’em games and other poker variants.

Is Online Poker Legal in Michigan?


Most states’ gambling and betting statues make no mention of online poker and playing at real money Internet poker websites, and Michigan’s legit Internet gambling laws prove no exception. Dense and at times contradictory, Michigan’s gambling and betting bylaws will likely confound the average reader. Which is why we’ve thoroughly dissected them; so you don’t have to before you play at online poker websites..

With that said, any serious Internet poker online grinder should talk to a legal authority versed in gambling and lawful poker website betting law before making a deposit on a US-facing poker website.

Listed below are several excerpts and explanations of Michigan’s gambling and betting law:

  • Surprisingly, the penalties for running an illegal gambling or betting operation in Michigan are much more severe than in most states. According to Section 432.218: Conducting a gambling operation where wagering is used or to be used without a license issued by the board, is a felony punishable by up to 10 years in an MI prison or a fine of not more than $100,000, or both.
  • Offering anything of value to a casino employee, including real cash, or anyone affiliated with a licensed gambling operator, in exchange for a preferred gambling outcome in any game including real money poker is also considered a felony.
  • Gambling, as defined by Michigan law, is any game played with cards, dice, equipment or a machine, including any mechanical, electromechanical or electronic device which shall include computers and cashless wagering systems, for money, credit, or any representative of value. Section 432.202(v).
  • One could easily interpret this definition to include online poker and Internet poker betting for real money. However, in 2000 the state repealed a Senate Bill that made it specifically unlawful to use the Internet to violate certain provisions of Michigan’s anti-gambling and anti-poker websites laws. Contradictory, it seems.
  • Winning gamblers suffer greater penalties than losing ones. According to Section 750.314, Any person who by playing at cards, dice, or any other game…wins or obtains any sum of real money or any goods, is subject to a misdemeanor if the real money, goods, or articles so won or obtained are of the value of not more than $50.00. If casino gambling or poker betting winnings exceed $50.00, the winner could serve one year in a MI jail.
  • Social gambling is generally accepted, in so long as a rake is not taken in games like Texas Hold’em poker.

Considering the severity of Michigan’s gambling and betting laws, players are encouraged to never play live real money poker at an unlicensed facility and only at fully legal real cash poker gambling establishments.

To read more about the state’s gambling and poker betting statutes [3], please visit the “References” section.

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The Facts

The History of Gambling in Michigan

Michigan’s gambling and real cash poker story is significantly shorter than most. It first made its presence felt when MI Governor William Comstock passed a bill legalizing pari-mutuel real money betting. This measure was likely taken to counter the ill-effects of the Great Depression and bring the people of MI some enjoyment through light hearted gambling. However, at the present time no horse racing betting venues currently operate out of Michigan.

Gambling and betting was readdressed in 1972, when MI state voters elected to institute a statewide real cash lottery. Since that time, the lottery has become an enormous source of legal gambling revenue for the state of Michigan.

By the 1980s, largely due to the passage of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988, the state’s multiple tribes began opening gambling facilities and real money poker betting card rooms within Michigan’s borders. Their ventures have proven widely successful, resulting in nearly two dozen casinos and lawful poker gambling rooms as of 2014.

In 1994, a Canadian casino and real cash poker room located on the border of Michigan opened its doors to the gambling public. This compelled Michigan legislators to open commercial casinos and poker betting rooms of their own, and by 1996 MI voters facilitated the passage of the Michigan Gaming Control & Revenue Act. The new bill allowed Michigan’s regulatory committee to oversee the construction of three Detroit-based casinos and legal poker destinations, the first of which opened in 1999. Also in the 1990s, charitable gaming – including real money poker gambling nights – was legalized.

In 1999, a law designed to disallow residents from gambling on Internet poker and other real money gambling websites was put into action. However, one year later it was amended to not include the term gambling. But by 2012, the state’s law enforcement authorities began cracking down on Internet cafes sponsoring online poker website sweepstakes and letting gambling citizens of MI log on to Internet poker websites. Attorney General Bill Schuette would go on record stating that MI citizens should steer clear of Internet sweepstakes cafes that are nothing more than unregistered, illegal casinos and Internet poker rooms [4]. By June 2012, nearly 60 of these alleged real cash poker sweepstakes cafes were shut down.

Regulated Gambling Options in Michigan

There is no shortage of regulated gambling and betting options in Michigan, including plenty of real money poker action. Along with Iowa, Michigan is the only state that permits all five major types of real-money wagering: pari-mutuel, charitable, lottery, commercial casinos, and tribal casinos. And whereas most major cities discourage the construction of casinos and real money poker betting rooms, Detroit is a Mecca of legit gambling activity. But no matter where in Michigan you live, a legal real cash poker room or casino is bound to be located somewhere nearby on the streets of MI.

There may be no regulation of online poker in Michigan, but a lot of residents play online at the poker room of their choice.

The Future of Regulated Online Gambling in Michigan

Whether or not Michigan will toss its hat into the iGaming Internet poker arena is anyone’s guess. And even the best real money poker gambling fans probably wouldn’t want to be betting on that!

On the plus side, the state of Michigan relies on gambling and betting revenues from land-based real money poker games more than most, and has shown a willingness to bring certain facets of its gambling landscape – not real cash poker but namely the lottery – online and give it a legal Internet gambling website.

With that said, no iGaming Internet poker bill has been penned by Michigan’s state legislators. The status of a real money poker websites bill could very well change in 2021, as states like New Jersey continue to prove the viability of the regulated iGaming legal real cash Internet poker market. But it’s more likely that Michigan will wait and see what neighboring states Iowa and Illinois do before enacting Internet gambling legislation of its own.

Fun Fact

Two of the past five WSOP Main Event champions have hailed from Michigan. Joe Cada, the youngest real money poker champion ever, would defeat logger Darvin Moon for the title in 2009, while Ryan “the Beast” Riess would capture glory in 2013 at the real cash poker tables. Riess also earned his undergraduate degree from Michigan State University [5].

The Bottom Line

There will likely come a time when citizens of Michigan will be able to enjoy regulated online poker and sign up at legal MI real money poker websites. But like most good things, it may require patience.

In the most probable scenario, the success of iGaming and real cash Internet poker in a select few states will set off a domino effect, compelling upwards of a dozen more states, Michigan included, to pass Internet gaming and lawful poker website legislation of its own.

Michigan’s nearly 10 million residents could certainly sustain a healthy legal real money Internet poker community, similar to New Jersey’s. Here’s hoping that 2021 is the year the Wolverine State takes the plunge into the world of real cash poker website gambling!


[1] The end of charity poker rooms in Michigan? State regulators eye even stricter rules

[2] Michigan Confirms 2014 Online Lottery Launch

[3] MCL Chapter Index

[4] Bedford Internet Café Closed; Charges Filed Against Pair

[5] Ryan Riess – Wikipedia


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