What Types of Gambling Are Legal in Michigan

Gambling in the United States has become one of the fastest-rising industries the country has ever seen. That has happened because US states now regulate sports betting and online casino gaming as they wish. The first (legalizing sports wagering) became a possibility post-May 2018 when the Supreme Court nullified the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act that imposed a federal ban on sports wagering, meaning regions got the right to regulate Internet gaming via a 2011 DOJ interpretation of the 1961 Interstate Wire Act that got pushed through by Bobby Kennedy to curb organized crime operations.

In 2022, the AGA reported that the nation had a total gross gambling revenue of $60 billion, a 13% improvement over the 2021 figure. In this article, we seek to explain the forms of gambling entertainment, online and offline, Michiganians can freely enjoy and which ones they should be wary about trying.

Allowed Gambling Genres

Michigan is one of the US regions that has adopted one of the laxest stances towards games of chance and sports betting. In December 2019, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed a bill that permitted retail and Internet betting. That legislation proposed the launch of brick-and-mortar and online sportsbooks, poker hubs, fantasy sports, and gaming platforms in the Great Lake State for 2020. Yet, this only happened in January 2021, when Michigan online casino sites and digital bookies debuted.

In December 2020, The Michigan Legislature passed a bill authorizing the state’s Gaming Control Board to join a multijurisdictional compact regarding poker. That allowed residents to partake in card gambling against New Jersey, Delaware, and Nevada citizens. Michigan Gaming Control Board oversees live horse racing and off-track betting at licensed venues and the state’s three commercial casinos in the Detroit area, MGM Grand Detroit, MotorCity Casino Hotel, and Greektown Casino-Hotel.

Of course, the state also has tribal gaming facilities run by its twelve tribes, with seven operating under 1993 compacts, four under 1998 ones, and one through a 2007 compact. Lotteries (the state one active from 1972) and charitable gambling are also get permitted in Michigan, whose Gaming Control Board has licensed and regulated physical poker rooms since 1997, thanks to the Michigan Gaming Control and Revenue Act.

Problem Areas

The state authorities and its Gaming Control Board are not fond of offline pools, private card games held in non-commercial settings, unlicensed fantasy sports contests, and larger-scale social gambling. Usually, private social games are tolerated, but commercialized ventures where the organizers earn a profit are not allowed. Social gaming activities cannot also be publicly advertised in the state.

In recent times, the Michigan Control Board has taken a firm stance against social gaming platforms like Stake.US and Prediction Strike, which look to skirt the law, leaving residents of the state vulnerable and having little recourse in disputes against these websites.

Stake.US is an especially famous brand, as this is the US-centric off-shoot of the renowned Curacao casino and sportsbook site – Stake, which has made the news many times over on account of Canadian musical superstar Drake using it.’s operator, Medium Rare NV from Curacao, launched its Cyprus arm, Stake.US, in August 2022. And that platform now lists Michigan on its restricted region list, along with the following American territories: Vermont, Kentucky, Idaho, Nevada, Washington, and New York.

Stake.US, Prediction Strike, and Australia’s VGW have all gotten cease and desist letters from state authorities, who consider the sweepstakes services they offer illegal under Michigan law.

The Redemption Game Controversy

In Michigan, businesses with no gaming license cannot offer machines that feature games where outcomes are primarily determined by fortuitous circumstances, meaning actions that players do not control. However, some venues have fallen prey to the myth that they can offer gambling machines as long as these incorporate a skill element and payout rewards in the form of gift cards. That is so because they believe these can be classified as redemption games, not casino ones. That is partly accurate if these games fulfill specific conditions.

Per the Michigan Penal Code, redemption games can only supply prizes equal to or lower in value than $3.75 via a single round of play. Their results also must be produced through the application of skill by a player, and options like card picks, dice, beano, roulette, video poker, slots, and any other option where luck has the final say do not qualify under the redemption exception.

In recent times, Michigan arcades have started to house skill-based games that offer various redeemable rewards, and they are concerned over the proposed House Bill 5227, which looks to redefine what gambling machines are, aiming to close new tech loopholes. Nevertheless, the proposed law has such broad definitions that it will probably outlaw loads of recreational games that can fall under the redemption category. Moreover, it will affect businesses like Chuck E. Cheese and Dave and Busters, which feature mechanical fair game-style machines that will get labeled gambling if the cited bill becomes law. At the time of writing, the state of this bill remains to be determined.

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