Michigan Legal Poker Sites

Michigan StateMichigan is one of the better States when it comes to opportunities to enjoy live poker games. There are more than 19 casinos, both tribal and State licensed. It was a Canadian casino which kicked off the legislation of State licensed venues back in 1996. The Windsor Casino over the river from Detroit in Ontario was attracting so many visitors (and revenue) that the Michigan government could no longer ignore it.

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This article covers poker in Michigan in all the possible ways it can be played. First of all below you will find more information on the live poker scene in casino card-rooms. After that a look at home and social poker games can be found. Next up online poker is covered, with a story about how this was outlawed before any other State had even considered it, only for the law to be repealed. Finally you will find some key information from the MI Statute books – clarifying the legal position here.

Live Poker Games In Michigan

Whether you enjoy the luxury surroundings of the MGM Grand Casino poker room in Detroit, or one of the many Tribal casinos with poker games dotted around the State – you really do have a great choice in Michigan. In addition to the 3 main Detroit casinos (MGM, Motor City and Greektown) you can cross the river and find plenty of poker action at the Canadian Windsor casino too.

While some of the smaller tribal outfits only run lower buy-in cash games and weekly tournaments, you can find some higher stakes action in the big casinos here. Events include the popular Mid-States Poker Tour – alongside many local events.

Are Home Games Legal In Michigan?

Whether you can play social home games legally depends entirely on which part of the gambling Statutes you are reading. One part of this specifically exempts these games from the broad definition of illegal gambling activity. At the same time, another part does include them in these definitions.

As in most States, the key factor is whether there is an individual profiting from running the game. As long as everyone joins as equals, with nobody profiting by taking a rake from pots or charging an entry fee – then the game is tolerated. There is no history of small stakes poker home games being busted in Michigan – though crossing the line into running a game for profit will get you into trouble quickly.

Michigan And Online Poker Games

MI were the very first State to ban gambling using a computer back in 1999. Fortunately for online poker fans, this law was quietly repealed a short time afterwards. Today it is assumed that the broad based ‘everything is illegal unless otherwise specified’ gambling laws do cover internet poker. Michigan has no history of busting internet poker fans. The offshore poker sites who still welcome US players are open to MI residents – many of whom enjoy the cash games and tournaments available there with no problems.

There is little to indicate that Michigan is planning to regulate online poker either within their State borders or in conjunction with other States. MI is not anti-gambling, so the possibility of future regulation remains open. The chances of this State being one of the first are very slim though.

What Do The Michigan Statutes Say?

Each State defines illegal gambling activity in their own way, here in Michigan it is making money from gambling and the ownership of devices which can be used for gambling which will get you into trouble with the law. Poker as a skill game is counted out with the wide definition of using cards. Winning amounts below $50 is exempted, though it is unclear from the legal wording whether this is per hand or per session.

Here is the key wording from the MI Statute books, this is from section 740-314:

…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…

As broad definitions of gambling activity go – this one covers just about everything poker related in one go!

Overview Of Michigan Poker – Summing It Up

The combination of 19 tribal casinos and the 3 State licensed venues in Detroit give Michigan residents plenty of choice when it comes to poker rooms. In addition there is the short hop across the river to the Windsor Casino in Ontario freely available. Home games are tolerated here as long as they are social only and nobody is profiting from the games. If your pots are under $50 then you are almost certainly not breaking any laws.

With a generally gambler-friendly environment, there is a possibility that MI will join a future round of legislation to regulate online poker. There is no indication that this is being discussed at the moment, so the best hope for online poker fans is that Michigan will join a future wave of regulation.