Online Poker and Gambling Laws in Michigan

Michigan is another U.S. state that takes illegal gambling seriously – like many of them, and its views are strict on the matter. This does not, however, reflect what they feel about regulated gambling. There are some old, as well as new laws that have been put in place on the topic of gambling. To better understand how they view illegal gambling, one must look at how gambling is defined by the state:

Section 432.202
2. “Gambling game” means 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, including, but not limited to, faro, monte, roulette, keno, bingo, fan tan, twenty one, blackjack, seven and a half, klondike, craps, poker, chuck a luck, Chinese chuck a luck (dai shu), wheel of fortune, chemin de fer, baccarat, pai gow, beat the banker, panguingui, slot machine, any banking or percentage game, or any other game or device approved by the board, but does not include games played with cards in private homes or residences in which no person makes money for operating the game, except as a player.

The way Michigan reasons what illegal gambling is and whether it is permitted, is by looking at what gambling is permitted and regulated, anything that is not within that list is automatically deemed illegal. As some gambling laws are older, and some newer, the enforcement of each is questionable. However, there have been cases where the old laws still apply and both Operators and Individual Gamblers are still held accountable.

Gambling Allowed in Michigan

There are many forms of regulated gambling in Michigan. These would include the state-run lottery, pari-mutuel betting, and a mix of commercial and tribal casinos. There is also a good amount of charitable gambling, as it generates large amount of cash. They allow bingo, raffles, and other games, including poker.

Social gambling is a mixed issue, as older law states that it is illegal, but with newer laws, it says it is permitted. It is safe to assume that social gambling is legal as long as it follows the following rules, 1) located in a private home or location, 2) stakes are low, 3) no one profit as the Operator.

Online Poker Law

There are no current laws that go against the act of playing online poker. There are instances where Michigan has stated that playing online poker is illegal, but does not show any proof or law as to why. Poker players could face charges with the older gambling laws, which states that winning anything in poker is illegal; however, this is very unlikely to happen. Michigan would be more interested in prosecuting those that host online poker sites from within the state, rather than those that participate on them.

Land Based Casinos and Tribal Stances

Michigan does like its regulated gambling, which is why they have a thriving commercial and tribal casino business. The tribal casinos are mainly run by the Keweenaw Bay, Bay Mills, and Hannahville Potawatomi Indian communities. There have been a few conflicts between the Indian communities and the commercial casinos, but it has not been as drastic as in other states. It would seem that both sides would want to profit from expanding their businesses into online gambling and poker sites.

State Regulated Online Poker

Estimated Date of Legalized Online Poker in Michigan: 2017-2018

The laws regarding illegal gambling are quite clear, but old, which is why the new gambling laws are being used in most cases. Michigan has not made online poker illegal, and has been working towards expanding the gambling business; as it brings in a large amount of state revenue. They do crack down hard on Operators of online gambling sites, but that is just because they are not regulated. If online gambling becomes legal, through a regulating body, Michigan would likely take advantage of it and regulate online poker sites.

Online Lotteries

Michigan has been running their state-run lottery since 1972 and has been making advancements to expand and create a viable way to sell tickets online, but those proposals were suspended in June 2013. They actually sell the Michigan Raffle online.

Online Poker Sites

With the laws on gambling being changed and updated through the new laws, there have been no strides towards regarding playing online poker as explicitly illegal. This means that playing poker online will not likely get the player charged with anything; it is more likely that the Operator be prosecuted. This is why Michigan players can try out the US friendly BetOnline Poker and/or Ignition Poker online poker sites.

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