Michigan Online Poker
For a while, as with a handful of other USA states, Michigan was one of the States where the gambling framework extended no further than the lottery and pari mutuel horse racing wagering. However the Great Lake State has made some progress in recent years, with the number of casinos run by Indian tribes reaching 17 towards the end of the 20th century.
Michigan’s most famous poker players include Joe Cada, the 2009 World Series of Poker Main Event Winner, who won his second WSOP bracelet in 2019. Cada honed his skills at some of the best poker sites in Michigan: offshore sites, some of them licensed in territories in the Caribbean. With that in mind, one would hope the case for legal poker sites in Michigan is strengthened. However at present the situation is hazy. Players are under no risk of prosecution for playing online poker in Michigan, and there has notably been a crackdown on internet cafes used for other forms of gambling.
The various Indian casinos in Michigan hold regular tournaments and cash games, while the Soaring Eagle Casino, one of the Great Lake State’s largest, has hosted tournaments in the Heartland Poker Tour, attracting many players. There is clearly plenty of interest in online poker among Michiganders, though the appetite for online poker regulated in-state is yet to be fully sated.
While online poker remains a gray area in Michigan, there is nothing to stop you from playing poker for cash with friends or family in home games as long as no one takes a rake from the activity. Indeed, Michigan law explicitly states that you are allowed to make money from home poker games as a player, just not as an organizer. Michigan’s state motto, Si quaeris peninsulam amoenam circumspice, means ‘If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you’. It is certainly pleasant as far as scenery and even live poker is concerned, but other parts of the United States seem more amenable to online poker players’ needs.
Does offline gambling generate much revenue in Michigan?
The Michigan state lottery has generated more than $16bn in net state revenue, which when added to $300m from the casinos is not insignificant. However this is yet to translate to a vocal appeal for the regulation of legal online poker sites for residents of the state.
Will we see more big live poker tournaments in Michigan?
Last year there were two Hearland Poker Tour events held at Soaring Eagle Casino in Mount Pleasant, Michigan. These were both hugely popular, generating prizepools of more than $600,000 and awarding first place prizes of more than $150,000 on both occasions. Michiganders can remain hopeful that this interest will lead to other tours such as the World Poker Tour coming to town at some stage in the future.
Have lobby groups like the PPA pushed for Michigan regulation?
The Poker Players Alliance (PPA) are yet to turn their attention to Michigan in a serious way, as the Great Lake State has shown no huge interest in regulating online poker. Instead, the PPA has targeted states where it remains confident of making a difference in the immediate or near future, and this has reaped rewards elsewhere in the United States, just not in bringing legal poker sites to Michigan.
What will happen if neighboring states regulate?
There is a chance that progress in neighboring states Indiana and Ohio could be what Michigan needs to push ahead with legal poker sites of its own. If lawmakers can see the benefit of legal online poker in Michigan’s neighboring states then that would surely strengthen the case for the Great Lake State to push ahead with its own online poker laws. However, while there has not been silence on the matter, other states probably seem closer to regulating poker over the internet than those which share a border with Michigan.