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Playing Online Poker in the State of Michigan

Michigan map
Michigan's flag

Can I play online poker in the state of Michigan and Is online poker legal in Michigan?  YES! 

Michigan has had an odd relationship with gambling as it is legal, but it is also not as openly encouraged as it might be in other states.  However, there are no laws prohibiting private citizens from playing online poker in the privacy of their homes.  Furthermore, there are no Federal laws that make online poker illegal for private citizens. There is a lot of misinformation out there regarding laws such as UIGEA and The Wire Act, but the bottom line is that those laws DO NOT, we repeat, DO NOT apply to ordinary citizens and thus do not prohibit said citizens from engaging in real money poker games. Currently there are no state or federal regulated options for players in Michigan. That being said, offshore gaming is alive and well in Michigan and there are a lot of great choices for players to take advantage of. Offshore poker sites are often licensed and regulated in other countries such as Panama, Costa Rica, Antigua and Barbuda, Kahnawake and other foreign countries and offer their services to citizens of Michigan legally via World Trade Organization rulings (The United States is the biggest partner and participator in WTO).  Below are the best online sites available to the citizens of Michigan! 

 

 

What Online Poker Sites Can I Play in Michigan?

There's a full complement of real money gaming sites for you to enjoy from your computer in Michigan. While most operators are honest and trustworthy, there are a few that can best be described as lacking in moral fiber. We've compared all available poker rooms against each other to identify the ones that pay out wins honestly, employ sufficient RNG algorithms to ensure a fair deal, and treat their customers right. We've presented them below so that you can select from enterprises that have shown that they deserve your consideration.

 

    Ignition Poker

Positive Features of Ignition

Ignition Poker, which is part of the PaiWangLuo Poker Network is our number one recommended option for Michiganders.  New players can receive a generous deposit bonus of up to $2,000 (100% up to $1,000 for poker and another 100% up to $1,000 for casino). This bonus clears in variably sized chunks with the initial portions releasing more quickly. Small depositors will note that their bonus clears at an astounding 100% rakeback equivalent. For the high rollers taking advantage of the full $1,000 bonus, it will clear at a 30% effective rate.

 Ignition Poker CTA: Play Now

Ignition's games are plentiful and of the highest quality. According to Pokerscout.com, the industry expert on such matters, this is the largest site still open to Americans. This wasn't always the case, but the room has grown significantly since Black Friday to eclipse its competitors. One of the reasons for this is probably its anonymized gameplay. Because nobody can track screennames and record others' playing histories over time, newcomers feel safe and have signed up to Ignition in droves.

The big-bet cash games start at $0.02/$0.05 and go all the way up to high-stakes games where the buy-in is $2,000. Game offerings (in rough order of popularity) include No Limit Hold'em, Pot Limit Omaha, Pot Limit Omaha Hi-Lo, Fixed Limit Hold'em, and Fixed Limit Omaha Hi-Lo. Zone Poker is a fast paced form of NLHE where every time you fold a hand, you are dealt a new hand at a new table right away. It's possible to play hundreds of hands an hour in this format, making the boredom of waiting for a good hand a thing of the past. Tournament action is bustling as well with buy-ins of $1 all the way to $540.  The largest regularly scheduled tournament is the Sunday $100,000 guarantee, a $150 +$12 buy-in event that has myriad sattelites allowing players to win their way to a seat for as little as $1.10.  Sit and Go tournaments include regular and turbo speeds with buy-ins ranging from $1 to $214.

Ignition also has a newly updated casino hosting hundreds of different slots and popular pit games that you'd find at your local B&M casino.  A $1,000 initial casino bonus is offered to players who partake in these games.  On top of that they offer an unlimited amount of $1,000 bitcoin reload bonuses for MI-based players.

Professional Rakeback's Ignition CTA

If you would like to start playing Ignition Poker from your own home today, then you can click the link above to get the best deposit bonus offer available! For further details on this popular poker site, check out our fully-loaded Ignition Poker review.

 

        Chico Network

Positive features of Chico Poker

The Chico Network of sites not only manages a pretty well-regarded poker division but also hosts a sportsbook, casino games, racebook, and more. You may wish to explore these other product options at your leisure, but what we're focused on right now is the poker side of things. Our recommended Chico site, BetOnline, is willing to grant you a 100% up to $2,500 bonus to use on the virtual tables when you make your first deposit. It's equal to 33% rakeback on your ring game rake and tournament fees.

Play Now at Chico Poker

The CPN is the third-largest spot on the internet for American-friendly poker according to PokerScout.com. NLHE and PLO cash games exist from $2 buyins to those tables that allow you to sit with a stack of up to $1,000. Pot Limit Omaha/8 also sees some decent action depending on the time of day you decide to log in. Sit and Gos are surprisingly populated here, and you'll have no trouble getting them to run from $0.05 up to $210 during peak hours. Only at the highest, $525 buyin stake might you have to wait around for awhile. Tournament action on at BoL is centered on low dollar buy-in events ranging from $0 (yay, freerolls) to $33. The largest event on the schedule is a $50,000 guarantee (with $90 + $9 entry) that runs every week on Sunday, but this jumps to $100,000 on the last Sunday of every month (with a $100 + $9 entry).

It's possible to access the poker lobby with Mac and Windows download clients. You can also log in via your phone or tablet through iOS and Android apps. The number of people using their various systems to play poker, including sports-betting and casino fish, leads to some juicy games. The mobile experience here is virtually flawless, and the developers have managed to avoid many of the issues we've encountered with competitors' mobile offerings.

Even after you've completed your welcome bonus, there's more free money to look forward to. You'll get about 5% cashback by using your comp points to buy into specially designated tournaments. There's further cash to be had from the weekly leaderboards. There are three of them – for cash, SNGs, and MTTs – and they pay out a grand total of $20,000 to the highest placers. Many other bonuses and promos can be had in the sportsbook, casino, and other gambling offerings of BetOnline.

Professional Rakeback's BetOnline cta

The chips are flying at BetOnline, and you can sign up for an account by following the "Visit Site Now" button above. If you'd rather take it slow and learn more first, then browse through our overview of the BetOnline Poker setup. Or you can read about another site on the Chico Network, Sportsbetting.ag.

 

    Horizon Network

Intertops' positive features image

With more than 30 years in the gambling business, Intertops is certainly a well-seasoned veteran of the industry. Besides poker, you can partake in sports betting and two separate casinos. The poker bonus here is a 200% up to $1,000 special, which you'll earn out at a rate that can climb as high as 27% rakeback. You'll also get regular 36% dealt rakeback payments to augment your account balance even more.

Intertops play now cta

You'll see NL ring games denominated at both low and high stakes, but the topmost layers of blind levels seldom attract many competitors, so you'll have to content yourself with games of $.25/$.50 and below for the most part. There is occasional PLO traffic as well, but you won't be able to count on this consistently. The most noteworthy tournament is the $50 + $5 Sundowner, which distributes prizes of no less than $1,500 daily ($2,500 on Sundays). The rest of the tourneys are for smallish buyins and prize pools although there are sometimes satellites to prestigious live events.

Intertops is housed on the Horizon Poker Network and is, in fact, its flagship site. This used to be called the Revolution Network and before that, the Cake Poker Network. While operating under the Revolution name, the network got hit for extensive financial losses by the Lock Poker fiasco. However, Intertops moved to take control of the tottering network and absorbed the damage itself without stiffing its loyal players. It's actions like these that have established its reputation as a no-nonsense, fair, and honest place to play.

Besides your $1,000 bonus, you'll receive 100 free lines for casino games, worth about $90 or more depending on the games you play. There's a poker rake race each week that distributes $4,000, and you don't need to achieve massive rake totals to qualify. Top all of this off with frequent tourney overlays, recurring Loyalty Levels rewards, reload bonuses, and many other promos, and it's easy to understand why playing at Intertops can be a remunerative pastime indeed.

Intertops poker cta

If all of the above sounds good to you, then click above on our banner link to create your Intertops account today. You can also peruse our thoroughgoing Intertops Poker review page to glean more info before signing up.

 

     Winning Network

WPN's positive features image

Since 2001, the Winning Poker Network and its forerunner Yatahay Network have been U.S.-Friendly poker organizations that maintain high standards of ethics and player satisfaction. When you join the leading site, Americas Cardroom, you'll benefit from a 100% up to $1,000 bonus that's valued at 20% rakeback. In addition, you'll be able to play Jackpot Poker SNGs with $50 in free entries!

Americas Cardroom Poker Play Now

This is the second-busiest destination in existence for U.S. online poker,  perhaps because of the broad range of stakes available. In NLHE and PLO, you can choose a game between $0.01/$0.02 and $25/$50: the widest distribution of blind levels available at any site on our list. The $25/$50 games represent a loftier height than that found at any other site that serves Americans, and while they don't run every day, players do join in several times per week. ACR is also winning the hearts of limit poker players who get to enjoy Hold'em, Omaha/8, Seven Card Stud, and Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo Split.

Tournaments, both single-table and multi-table, are where Americas Cardroom deploys the bulk of its attention. Sit-and-gos are always running here, and just as in the cash games, you can compete for small buyins or large. There are two non-standard SNG offerings that combine everyday poker with lottery-inspired random elements: SNG 2.0 and Jackpot Poker. Remember, you'll get to register for $50 of free Jackpot games when you fund your account for the first time.

ACR is home to the largest Sunday Major event open to Michiganians: the $200 + $15 Sunday Special, which guarantees $150,000+. Once every few months, you can contend for a seven-figure prize pool with the Million Dollar Sunday, a $500 + $40 affair that pays out no less than $1 million! But there are multiple millions up for grabs in the tournament series at Americas Cardroom, like the Online Super Series, which pops up a few times per year.

ACR's highlights cta

Click above on the banner to get started at Americas Cardroom now. If you have any further questions about this room, then pore over our accurate Americas Cardroom poker review to get the answers.

The premium site on the Winning Poker Network is Americas Cardroom, but there are others. These poker network “skins” have banded together so that they can attain a greater number of active games and more robust software feature sets than they could do alone. Some of the other reputable sites on WPN are BlackChip Poker (read review), True Poker (read review), and PokerHost (read review). For instructions on how to obtain rakeback on any of these rooms, read through our guide to rakeback on the Winning Poker Network.

 

        Grand Network

Positive Features  of 5Dimes

Grand Poker Network is the smallest room that we recommend to you, but it has a number of strengths.  GPN's parent company, 5 Dimes, has been in business for nearly 20 years, taking sports bets worldwide and earning an A+ rating at virtually every bookie review site. 5Dimes Group is one of the most trusted names in sports betting, and therefore, their poker room should be trusted without the worry that may come with other, unproven sites.  This room is still growing, and we offer players 50%+ rakeback when they sign up through Professional Rakeback.

The action at this site is focused around No Limit Holdem with some small-stakes Pot Limit Omaha running too.  This is a splendid site for players looking to run up a bankroll from a small deposit thanks to our large rakeback offer and the soft games that run here from $0.05/$0.10 through $1/$2. The tournament and sit and go action is lacking unfortunately although they do offer a $500 freeroll and daily, no-fee guaranteed tournaments.

Michigan residents will also have access to the top-notch sportsbook on 5Dimes. They accept wagers from almost anyone, pros and recreational players alike.  They have extremely competitive lines due to their "reduced juice" business model.  If you like to bet sports, there are some decent arbitrage opportunities when pairing bets at 5Dimes and placing a reciprocal bet at one of our other recommended bookmaking sites. Several full featured online casinos are also available.

5Dimes CTA - highlights Banner

To become a member at 5Dimes now and start betting in the casinos, sportbook and poker room, click the link provided above. You can learn more about the sites on this network with our roundup of the best Grand Poker Network poker rooms.

 


 

How to Choose the Right Michigan Poker Site

It's impossible for us to say for sure which internet poker room you would find most appealing. This is because they all do things slightly differently, and they each have areas in which they excel and others in which they might not do so well. While there are no absolute rules on choosing an online poker provider, we've come up with some elements to ponder as you're making your decision.

☛ If you're interested in playing at the places with the most games running, then Ignition and WPN are two of the top possibilities available to you.


☛ If you're looking to score the largest possible bonus, then Chico Network has you covered with $2,500 in free poker bonus cash.


☛ If you prioritize regular rakeback returns even when you have no bonus active, then Grand and Intertops will cater to you.


☛ If unique game formats that can't be found elsewhere appeal to you, the Winning Network's special SNGs and Ignition's Zone Poker may leave you happy.


☛ If you own a mobile device, then the apps from Chico, Ignition, and Grand Poker will allow you to play while on the road or otherwise not at home.


☛ If you wish to find a place to conduct gambling besides poker, then Chico, Intertops, and Grand will wow you with their casino and sports divisions.


☛ If you're searching for the sites with the leading rewards programs, other than bonuses, then Winning Poker Network and Intertops will deliver the goodies you seek.

 

Payout Report

Dollar Bills

All five of the sites that we've discussed above have bitcoin withdrawal options that make payouts exceptionally fast. Other methods, like checks and money transfers, are also rather fast, but they do take much longer than digital Bitcoin. We therefore counsel all our readers to begin using Bitcoin for their poker playing endeavors. Bitcoin's great for deposits too because you can avoid having your transactions blocked by banks, which sometimes happens when you use plastic to try to fund your accounts.

 

Quick Facts about Michigan's Online Poker Laws

Legal Reference Book

The Michigan Penal Code contains elements dating way back to 1931 mixed together with newer revisions and amendments, so overall, it's a hodgepodge of confusing language and seemingly contradictory rules. We'll try to illuminate any such parts of the law that appear that they may impact online poker although most of them are subject to several distinct interpretations. The part of the law dealing with gambling is Chapter 750, sections 301 - 315a.

An important thing to realize about these sections pertaining to gambling is that the term “gambling” isn't defined anywhere within this body of law! There are other parts of the MI compiled laws that do explain what gambling is, especially the provisions governing regulated and licensed casino operations, but these definitions are local to the acts in which they're contained and don't have universal applicability to other laws in effect in Michigan.

While most of the public lumps poker in with roulette, racetrack betting, bingo, and other such luck-based activities as a type of gambling, this view might stem from lack of knowledge more than anything else. No less an authority on the law than Federal Judge Jack B. Weinstein of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York wrote an opinion stating that poker was a game of skill and thus not a form of gambling. This is backed up by a white paper written by the Poker Players Alliance, which puts forth a strong argument positing that poker is a game of skill. Of course, none of this is binding on the Michigan authorities, who will interpret the law according to their own lights, but it may help swing the balance in poker players' favor especially given the vagueness of the MI statutes.

Anyway, back to the business at hand. The law that's most relevant to poker in MI is 750.314 “Winning at gambling”:

Any person who by playing at cards, dice, or any other game, or by betting or putting up money on cards, or by any other means or device in the nature of betting on cards, or betting of any kind, wins or obtains any sum of money or any goods, or any article of value whatever, is guilty of a misdemeanor if the money, goods, or articles so won or obtained are of the value of not more than $50.00. If the money, goods, or articles so won or obtained are of the value of more than $50.00, the person is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than 1 year or a fine of not more than $1,000.00.

This absurd decree actually makes winning at cards a crime, and the penalty gets higher if you win more! Of all the vaguely worded language relating to real money gaming on the books within the Great Lakes State, the strongest case could be made for this one being applicable to poker because it uses the phrasing “playing at cards.” There's no indication of whether the $50 brightline refers to winnings per hand, per tournament, per session, or maybe even over someone's entire natural life. Anyway, it's hard to see how anyone could know how much you win in online poker unless you volunteer this information, so it's extremely unlikely that you'll ever need to worry about this provision. For the curious, here's the legal wording pertaining to “Losing at gambling,” which is 750.315:

Losing at gambling—Any person who shall lose any sum of money, or any goods, article or thing of value, by playing or betting on cards, dice or by any other device in the nature of such playing or betting, and shall pay or deliver the same or any part thereof to the winner, and shall not, within 3 months after such loss, without covin or collusion, prosecute with effect for such money or goods, the winner to whom such money or goods shall have been so paid or delivered, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine not exceeding 3 times the value of such money or goods. Such loser may sue for and recover such money in an action for money had and received to the use of the plaintiff; and such goods, article or valuable thing in an action of replevin, or the value thereof in an action on the case.

Now, this language is especially convoluted and difficult to understand, but it appears that if you lose while gaming and pay over what you owe, you can actually be guilty of a misdemeanor and have to forfeit triple what you lost if you fail to sue to try to regain your losses within three months! This bizarre injunction renders us speechless, and so we will say no more about it.

There are rules against keeping “any building or place where gaming is permitted or suffered” and “frequent[ing] any place where gaming or gambling is suffered or permitted.” Since we don't know what's considered gaming or gambling for the purposes of these laws, we can't say with 100% certainty whether or not they punish just owning a property in which online poker is going on. The implication is that you'd have to facilitate gambling for others for these clauses to come into effect, but this isn't explicitly stated. It's possible that an overzealous prosecutor might perhaps, while inebriated, decide that playing poker over the internet in one's own house counts as visiting a place where gambling is permitted or owning such a place. Any such prosecutor would be quickly laughed out of court in our opinion. To date, no ordinary player has ever been booked on gambling-related charges merely for participating in online poker games. The only times these laws are enforced are when police bust up illegal gambling rings or bookmaking operations. So you have nothing to fear legally as an individual online poker player.

The entire situation of Michigan gambling laws highlights the need for up-to-date and precise language. We've come across other state codes that are very explicit in delineating what is and what isn't allowed. The near-incomprehensibility of the laws we're concerned with today is no good for the citizens of the Wolverine State as a whole although there's probably a contingent of criminal lawyers who are terribly pleased by this fog of legal mumbo-jumbo.

When we turn to Chapter 432.201 - 432.226, which outlines the state's stance on licensed gaming, the rules are clearer, no doubt because there are millions of dollars at stake. This chapter actually includes a section called “definitions” so that we know what it's talking about. Conducting unlicensed gambling activity within the state, lying on a registration form for licensed gambling, attempting to evade paying the appropriate fees, rigging a casino game, and several other infractions incur criminal penalties. They can be as high as 10 years' imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $100,000. Clearly, it's in the best interests of gambling companies and their personnel to adhere strictly to the rules that have been set up by the state. No offshore gambling sites that serve the United States exclude Michigan from their service areas, so it appears that their legal teams feel that they're not in violation of these rules.

 

History of Gambling in Michigan

Hourglass

The area now called Michigan was transferred to the newly formed United States under the terms of the Treaty of Paris in 1783. It remained sparsely populated until the completion of the Erie Canal in 1825. This connected the territory to the large markets of New York City. The population of Michigan grew as new settlers arrived, and it was admitted as a state in 1837.

Logging Camp
Logging Camp Near Cadillac, Michigan

The logging industry found great scope for activity because of the huge natural forests in the area, and it remained one of the top money-makers for the state for most of the rest of the 19th century. The loggers were mostly isolated in the middle of wooded areas, but after their jobs were finished, they would head into town to spend their money. Gambling saloons were only more than happy to oblige them. While these establishments were never as elaborate or numerous as those in the Western frontier towns, one section of Bay City did achieve sufficient notoriety to earn the name “Hell's Half Mile.”

Michigan wasn't exempt from the wave of moral indignation that swept across the country in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and most types of wagering became illegal. However, those who knew where to look in back alleys and basements could always find action. During the prohibition era, many gangsters were involved in illicit gambling establishments and speakeasies, and they sometimes had the tacit approval of law enforcement, who had been paid off.

In 1933, Michigan approved pari-mutuel racetrack betting on horses, under the supervision of the Office of Racing Commissioner. A few decades later, in 1972, there was an amendment to the state constitution that was heavily approved by voters to establish the Michigan Lottery, which has continued running to this day. In the same year, the first charitable bingo games are raffles were permitted.

In 1993, the compacts were signed with Native groups allowing for tribal casinos. The first casino to open its doors as a result of these compacts was the Soaring Eagle Casino in Mount Pleasant, owned by the Saginaw Chippewa tribe. There are now more than a dozen such facilities. In 1996, a proposal was passed to set up three commercial casinos in the vicinity of Detroit. They are the Greek Town, MGM, and Motor City.

 

Regulation Chance for Online Poker

Manilla File Folder

Michigan is an state that appears to naturally possess many characteristics favorable to the implementation of an online poker licensing regime. It has financial problems and so could benefit from the revenues that online poker sites would pay. Michigan also has a fairly liberal voting history and a large population to draw from for players. These details haven't escaped the attention of State Senator Mike Kowall, who introduced SB889 in 2016 to legalize and regulate internet gambling. The bill was approved by committee, but then no further activity occurred. Kowall tried again in 2017 with SB203, and it has passed through the committee as well. We can't say for sure when regulated i-gaming will come to Michigan, but it does appear to be a question of “when” rather than “if”.

 

Land Based Gambling

Michigan is home to the major forms of land based gambling that many states have. Commercial casinos and tribal casinos run along with pari-mutual gambling and the state lottery. The Detroit area has the largest concentration of casinos, naturally, but it has also seen some of the highest variance in terms of revenues and viability as the city has had many financial problems in the very recent past. Tribal casinos and social gambling halls dot the rest of the state, but these are a bit harder to quantify, as the state needs to approve the social gambling halls. The largest poker room in the state is at the Motor City Casino, which has 17 tables and offers daily No Limit Texas Hold'em and Pot Limit Omaha games as well as tournaments several times per week.

Motor City Casino
Motor City Casino in Detroit

If online poker were to be regulated in the state of Michigan, there would be a lot of casinos to help it grow and become a very viable option. The commercial casinos in the Detroit area are well-regarded and nationally connected. The proximity of the state to other powerhouses in the region in terms of casinos (Illinois, Indiana and Ohio) would make it interesting to see if combined player pools would be more likely than what we have seen previously, and if that is so, Harrah’s and the WSOP brand would be well situated to scoop up a lot of the player base.

 

 

Concluding Words

There's nothing holding you back from engaging in real money online poker in Michigan. The laws are unclear, but they don't seem to outlaw Michigan online poker, and anyway, state officials have never tried to penalize online poker enthusiasts. Sign up at one of the sites that we've outlined in this article, and you'll soon be raking in the dough.

 

 

Do you have an address in a nearby state?

States Bordering Michigan

If you are lucky enough to have another address in a nearby state, be it your business address, summer home, second apartment, family home, etc, you may have other online poker options available to you.  Here are a list of the states that border Michigan and Professional Rakeback's review on each of them: Illinois, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. If you're curious about the poker situation in some other part of the country, then our U.S. online poker description page should prove informative.

Most people are fairly ignorant about the status of internet poker in the United States. If you'd like to do your part to spread knowledge and alleviate concerns, then you can share this page with your friends and family members who want to learn more about online poker.