Poker & Gambling Laws in Michigan

Michigan Poker Laws

Is Online Poker / Gambling Legal in Michigan?

The state of Michigan is fairly friendly to poker players. A lack of laws about online gambling at the state level means online poker players are free from prosecution. The state licenses casinos, and a very healthy tribal gaming scene exists in and around the state. Proximity to Canada, where poker rooms and casinos on the US border are plentiful, when combined with the state’s own liberal position on most forms of gambling means residents of Michigan have a lot of legal ways to play poker.

Internet casinos are popular for people living in Michigan, because the state has yet to address the legality of the game. Since an online poker game doesn’t require a road trip to a state-licensed casino, Internet poker is a convenient way to play a totally legal game. Because of changes to federal law, specifically a clarification of the Federal Wire Act, it’s safer than ever for Michigan-based poker players to enjoy the game they love on the Internet.

Existing Michigan Gambling Law

The Great Lakes States is a rare case in terms of legislation about Internet gambling. For a single legislative year, between 1999 and 2000, online gambling was technically illegal. In 1999, the state government adopted State Bill 562. This added a new section, 750.145d, to existing Michigan Compiled Gambling laws. This new section specified that the use of the Internet to break any existing state gambling law was illegal, carrying the same penalties as those existing laws. Since traditional brick-and-mortar casinos have to be licensed by the state, this effectively meant that any Internet poker room that wanted to accept bets from Michigan would have to abide by the state’s strict regulations, and would effectively make online poker illegal.
Just over a year later, the state government of Michigan went from conservative to liberal control, and it didn’t take long for Public Act 185 to pass – this Act simply repealed the new section, number 750.145d, making Internet gambling again a totally legal activity. This makes Michigan the only state that has moved from a strict anti-online gambling position to a more relaxed environment.

Online Poker Law in Michigan

The result of this change in 2000 is that the Land of Spectacular Peninsulas has no law in the state penal code stating that playing poker over the Internet is illegal. The state legislature has not considered another bill either in favor of or against poker on the Internet. That 2000 law repealing a strict statement against playing online casino games is the most recent legislative action on the subject at the state level. Online gambling is not expressly illegal; therefore it is safe to play poker on the Internet. Even after the 2006 UIGEA bill limited the way US players can fund their accounts, many online poker sites still accept American wagers, and citizens of Michigan can take their pick of those US-facing sites without worrying about breaking a state law.

Federal Law & Michigan Poker

In December 2011, the Department of Justice announced a re-clarification of the language in the 1961 Federal Wire Act. Focusing the Wire Act on sports betting, the federal government essentially made online gambling legal at the federal level. Since no state laws exist in Michigan banning these games, Michiganders are safe to play at any online casino that accepts US bets. With state and federal budgets in decline, much of the United States is leaning more toward taxation and regulation, and since Michigan has shown they’re willing to re-think their entire approach to online gambling, don’t be surprised if The Wolverine State moves to tax and regulate their own poker and casino sites soon.

Learn About Other State Laws

The Future of Poker for Michiganders

Online poker players in this state should expect some changes in state regulations about online poker in the years to come. After the DoJ stated that the Wire Act restricts sports bets only, casino and poker sites are starting to re-consider the US market, and in states like New Jersey, Iowa, and New York, governments are considering opening their own online poker and casino sites to improve their tax income.

The situation for Internet poker players in Michigan is pretty clear – like all US states, Michigan is affected by the 2006 UIGEA rule and abandonment of the US poker market by some of the biggest names in the games. Thanks to changes at the federal level and considerations of future state regulation of online poker sites, access to legal Internet poker play in Michigan will likely increase in the coming years.