Michigan Online Poker Law
To say that Michigan lawmakers aren’t fans of online poker and gaming is an understatement.
The only online poker legalization news coming out of Michigan since 2013 is negative. In fact, let’s include regular live poker in that statement, because a lawmaker is pushing to make a law that will ban charity poker games.
In 1999, a law was passed unanimously that makes it a felony to, among others things, use a computer to wager through the Internet. Although poker is not explicitly mentioned, poker is not considered a game of skill, but a game of chance.
A lawmaker in 2013 proposed a bill that would make it illegal for the state’s lottery control board to play its games through the Internet. Proposed by Republican Rep. Kevin Cotter, the bill had direct encouragement from Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe, which operates Soaring Eagle Casino and Resort.
Michigan Lottery opened bids to companies that would take its games online, but Cotter’s proposal stopped it in its tracks.
But here’s the rub: Soaring Eagle Casino and Resort is preparing to launch a play-money casino that was built by Aristocrat Online, an online gaming company specializing in online slots. Only fools might believe that the tribe has no intention of putting pressure on Cotter and others to allow online slot play in Michigan.
In short, something is going on here, but only time will tell if it will ever lead to online poker. Michigan is a strange state, politically, with vast swaths of rural areas that usually are filled with conservative, anti-gambling people who elect conservative, anti-gambling politicians. The protectionist attitude resonates within some of the lawmakers.
“We could have cases where people gamble away their home from their couch,” said Sen. Rick Jones. He also has a pending bill that would quash the lottery’s plans.
State law dictates that any kind of gambling expansion must always be approved in a referendum. If an online poker initiative somehow gets on the ballot and is approved — a long-shot if there even was one — then online poker will come to Michigan.
As it stands in late 2013, online poker players here shouldn’t hold their breath that online poker legislation is forthcoming.
When Can I play Online Poker in Michigan?
While some lawmakers may see the potential dollars that can be generated through online poker and gambling, the thought seriously wigs out others. The state is home to 25 casinos and slot rooms, so there’s a chance a concerted lobbying effort could make a difference, but at the beginning stages of online poker legalization, the only movement has been Cotter’s bill to restrict online lottery sales.
At least residents who have an easy way to get to Canada always have the option of crossing the border to access the world’s best poker sites.
What is Michigan’s Potential Online Poker Market?
With almost 7 million people over the age of 21, Michigan is one of the top 10 most populated potential online poker markets in America. It’s about the same market as Austria, where online poker is legal.