Sports betting is now legal and operating in the state of Michigan.
On March 11, 2020, two of Detroit’s commercial casinos began taking bets — just days before the start of March Madness, otherwise known as the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. The two major universities in the state — Michigan and Michigan State — will be represented in the tournament, so the timing of the sports betting launch was critical.
MGM Grand and Greektown were the first to market in Michigan, but Motor City Casino is also approved to allow sports betting beginning March 11.
While sports betting is only accessible at retail locations for now, online sports betting will soon available in Michigan — likely before the start of the 2020 NFL season.
On December 20, 2019, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed into law two bills, S4916 and H4311. These new laws legalized sports betting both online and in casinos, as well as internet poker, online casino games and online fantasy sports.
Michigan sports betting allows live and mobile sports betting
Michigan bit the bullet and authorized both live and online sports betting. This might seem like a no-brainer, but in some states like New York, only live sports betting is allowed.
In states like New Jersey and Nevada where there is a history of both online and live betting it is clear that mobile sports betting is extremely popular. In the not too distant future, Michigan should see over 80 percent of all sports bets to be made online.
If legislators had decided to forego online betting, they would have made a big mistake. Without online, there is a much smaller incentive for bettors to abandon their offshore betting sites and return to the legal environment. State gambling tax revenues would be much lower and customer protections almost absent. State regulation of sports betting allows for provisions to help protect punters against problem gambling.
The casinos offering sports betting online are restricted to offering only one brand each. However, sufficient numbers of tribal casinos are likely to enter the market so that there should be a wide choice of brands for sports bettors to use.
That makes for competitive odds, lots of new customer promotions and a much healthier commercial environment.
Where will I be able to make legal sports bets in Michigan?
Michigan has followed the example of other states with licensed casinos and restricted sports betting to its licencees.
There are only three state licensed casinos, all of them in Detroit. All are luxury high end casinos offering an experience that would not be out of place in Las Vegas. It is likely that sports betting will begin first at the casinos and then go online a short time later. That’s how it worked in Pennsylvania which is managing gaming in a similar way to Michigan.
Not all tribal casinos are likely to offer sport betting or get into internet gambling, but enough will to provide serious competition to Detroit.
The Detroit casinos will all be in the market. They are:
Greektown Casino Hotel
The Greektown Casino Hotel is a 30 story building containing 100,000 square feet of gaming space. The 344 foot high building includes a 400 bedroom hotel and a huge conference center.
The buildings are owned by Vici Properties. Penn National paid Vici $300 million to operate the casino business plus another $56 million a year in rent.
Penn National already has sports betting at several of its properties in other states. It has several sports betting partners, but Michigan law proposes to allow only one brand partner per casino.
Kambi provides Penn with sports betting technology, but the online brand Greektown will use will be William Hill.
MGM Grand Detroit
The MGM Grand Casino in Detroit turned 20 years old in July last year. When it opened in 1999 it boasted that it was the first luxury casino resort hotel outside Las Vegas.
Like Greektown, the MGM Grand has 100,000 square feet of casino space. That’s enough for 3,500 slots as well as casino game spaces. The resort includes 401 bedrooms and a 30,000 square foot conference area.
Owners MGM aim to be active in every possible state sports betting market, including Michigan. To this end they have struck a strategic partnership with British company GVC. GVC may be familiar through some of its brands, Sportingbet and PartyPoker.
The two companies have a joint venture called Roar Digital. Roar will use the playMGM and betMGM brands for sports betting and casino games. As Michigan has legalized online poker, PartyPoker will soon return to the state.
The enthusiasm for MGM’s sports betting ambitions is set out by the fact that the Grand already has a sports betting lounge.
The Moneyline Sports Lounge is close to the hotel valet entrance, opposite the TAP restaurant. The room is non-smoking and open to anyone 21 and over. The Moneyline features a 60-foot wide screen, which can show one game or multiple games at the same time.
MotorCity Casino Hotel
The Motorcity Casino Hotel is a luxury casino resort on Grand River Avenue in Detroit. The business is owned by Marian Ilitch of IH Gaming (Detroit Entertainment, LLC).
She and her late husband founded Little Caesars Pizza and as could be expected, there’s a branch in the casino’s restaurant area.
The resort also has 100,000 square feet of casino space, but there are fewer slots than at the MGM Grand. Nevertheless, 2,800 slots should provide enough variety for every taste. 59 table games are available as well as two poker rooms.
The Greektown has plans for a new sports lounge. Customers can expect large banks of monitors displaying the latest betting info as well as live games. VIP areas, a bar and luxury seating are a guaranteed to be features.
Sports betting at Michigan Tribal Casinos
There are 12 Native American gaming tribes in Michigan operating a total of 23 licensed casinos.
Not all the casinos are likely to offer sports betting but there is scope for quite a few to offer online sports betting, casino and poker.
Some have already begun negotiations with sports betting providers and two deals have already been announced.
The Lac Vieux Desert (LVD) Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians has a struck a 20 year deal with PointsBet. Australian company PointsBet has deals with casinos giving it access to 10 states. It has operations up and running in New Jersey and Iowa with an Indiana launch next on its schedule.
The Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians has a deal with The Stars Group which will operate under its FoxBet brand in Michigan. Interestingly Stars thought it had Michigan market access sewn up after striking a deal with Penn National. That deal gave Stars the rights to use a second skin for Penn’s Greektown Casino. Unfortunately the new law only allows one brand or skin per licensee, so Stars had to find another partner for its Michigan ambitions.
Mobile sports betting
Of course, now that Michigan allows mobile sports betting, the real answer to where you can place bets is absolutely anywhere in the state.
Senator Hertel said that he thinks mobile will launch before retail sports betting in casinos, but the delay is likely to be weeks not months.
It is fair to say that the legislation’s May 18, 2020 is a best before by date, the date before which sports betting will definitely start. If so, the end date for mobile sports betting will be around mid-June. By then you will be able to set up a mobile sports betting account and place bets from home or on your travels.
However, even though your phone is mobile, Michigan’s sports betting laws only apply within state borders. As soon as your mobile device crosses the state border you will no longer be able to place bets with your Michigan account.
Geo-location technology is now phenomenally accurate. If you do cross the state line you will find that any bets you have placed beforehand remain current, but you can’t place any more bets until you have safely returned to Michigan.
Michigan sports betting data must be official
One area where Michigan has diverged from the norm is in giving sports the right to demand that sport betting operators use official data for settling their bets.
The sports leagues have advocated for these provisions in every state which has legalized sports betting. Few states have succumbed to the argument, and Michigan’s provisions contain several get-outs.
If the data is not offered to betting operators on commercial terms, the regulator can erase the requirement and allow operators to use other data sources. This forces the leagues to act sensibly in their pricing as they are in effect competing against alternative providers.
Taxes and fees for Michigan sports betting are competitive
State politicians can sometimes get big eyes when looking at potential revenues from legalizing gambling. There’s no doubt sports betting is big business and legislators want to get the largest possible slice of the pie. They have a monopoly power to grant or refuse licences, so why not squeeze as hard as possible?
Two reasons why not. Experience in other jurisdictions shows that there’s a sweet spot for tax rates that generates the maximum revenues. There’s a second sweet spot which provides the most attractive offer to bettors to entice them away from offshore alternatives.
The good news is that Michigan has taken this evidence on board–Michigan tax rates for sports betting are competitive.
The basic sports betting tax rate is 8.4 percent on adjusted gross sports betting receipts. The three Detroit casino pay an additional 1.25 percent city tax. For the first five years, money given to customers for free-play promotions may be deducted from the gross receipts before taxes are levied.
Nevada’s tax rate is 6.75 percent, so Michigan is in the ball park. Even New Jersey’s rates are higher given that it has an 8.5 percent rate for live sports betting and 13 percent for mobile and online wagers.
Online poker and casino games are not so lucky. Governor Whitmer was much less inclined to sign the bill authorizing these games, so insisted on higher taxes.
Michigan tiers tax rates for online poker and casino
Taxes on casino and poker games will be:
- 20% on revenues up to $4 million
- 22% on revenues from $4 million – $8 million
- 24% on revenues from $8 million – $10 million
- 26% on revenues from $10 million – $12 million
- 28% on revenues of $12 million+
At the lower revenue figures these are at the top end of the tax sweet spot. At the higher end, these tax rates will reduce the proportion of players migrating from offshore sites and reduce the potential tax take for the state.
Things could be worse. Pennsylvania has a basic sports betting tax rate of 34 percent. On balance Michigan looks to have made a sensible compromise.
How old do I have to be to place sports bets in Michigan?
The state licensed casinos in Michigan have a minimum age limit of 21. The two new laws enshrine this in legislation for both retail and online sports betting.
The tribal casinos vary. Some allow gambling for 18 or 19 year olds, others keep to the standard 21. Specifically:
Minimum age 18
- Leelanau Sands
- Turtle Creek
- Island Resort
- Ojibwa II
- Lac Vieux
- Soaring Eagle
Minimum age 19
- All Kewadin casinos including; Casino Christmas, Casino Hessel, Casino Manistique, Shores Casino
- Odawa Mackinaw City Casino
- Odawa Petoskey Casino
How do I begin sports betting in Michigan sports?
Assuming retail sports betting begins first, you will need to visit one of the three Detroit Casinos or a tribal casino to place your first legal sports bets in Michigan.
First step is to register with the casino. All three casinos offer their own VIP benefits schemes and you don’t have to play regularly to get valuable discounts on meals, accommodation and entertainment.
Then its simply a question of deciding what to bet on. There are lots of alternatives available including a wide range of sports and bet types. If you’re not sure what any of it means, ask the casino staff and they will explain anything you don’t understand. Read on below for details of the most popular bet types.
There will be two ways to bet. Either at a self-service kiosk, compete with touch screen, or at one of several teller windows.
You will receive a receipt and betting ticket which you need to keep. If your bet wins, take the ticket back to the window to receive your winnings.
The luxury nature of the Detroit casinos and many of the tribal casinos mean they make great places to visit even if you don’t want to bet. That’s useful if you like sports and want to watch a game while you place your bets but your partner wants to do other things. A game and a luxury meal out can make a great trip for both of you.
How do I begin mobile sports betting in Michigan
Mobile sports betting gets rid of the need to physically visit the casino. As soon as internet sports betting launches you can set up an account online in minutes. This is another excellent decision made by Michigan legislators.
In Nevada, you need to open an account at a bricks and mortar casino if you want to bet online. You’ll have to do the same in neighboring Illinois, at least for the first year. But in Michigan there’s no need to physically visit a casino before betting online.
Michigan has followed the experience of New Jersey which has so far been a model of how to introduce legal sports betting.
To set up an online account you go to the sign up page using any of the links you’ll find on TheLines review pages.
There is a simple online form to fill out. Personal details are legally required to avoid any under age gambling. You then choose a screen name and password and you’re ready to go.
If you set up your account on a mobile device, you will need to download the relevant app first. The process is then the same, but many people find it easier to enter text using their laptop. If you set up your account using your PC, your account will automatically work on your mobile device. Simply download the app and sign in using your new user name and password.
Many of the new sports betting operators will offer special deals for new customers. Check the offers out before you open your first account.
How do I make a deposit?
Obviously you need money to place your first bets. This works similarly to having an online bank account. The sports betting operator accepts deposits from many different methods. The new laws actually specify a minimum number of methods that the casinos must provide.
Your deposit is linked directly to your account, so you can always see your account balance online. When you make a bet the money is debited from your sports betting account. When you win, the operator credits your account.
The common deposit methods include:
- Bank cards—Credit cards and debit cards are very easy ways to deposit funds online. There are still some banks which won’t allow gambling transactions, even when they are completely legal. If you have a problem, check with your bank and/or use one of the alternative methods below.
- Prepaid cards—Many casinos and other payment providers offer pre-paid cards. The three main casinos are all likely to offer their own branded versions with additional benefits for making deposits.
- Bank transfers—Michigan law mandates that casinos and online operators allow the use of ACH transfers (echecks). These are very quick to use and avoid any charges from a third party provider. Wire transfers are best for depositing large amounts.
- Payment Processor Electronic Wallet—Big e-wallet brands include PayPal, Skrill and NETELLER. After setting up an online account these services offer effortless deposits and withdrawals. Depsoits from an ewallet are processed instantly so there’s no wait to play. Withdrawals take a little bit longer as the casino is required to verify age and identity before making payments. The delay can be seconds or minutes so still a fast way to cash out. Most payments businesses offer an associated pre-paid card to make purchases or withdraw cash from an automated teller.
- Cash—The casinos will accept deposits for your online account if you make them in person at the casino cage. You can also use services such as PayNearMe which is available at most local 7/11 stores,
- Check or money order—People are moving away from checks but they are still popular with many and can be used to fund your online sports betting account.
How do I withdraw my winnings?
Unless you have paid with cash at a PayNearMe service, you can usually use the same method to withdraw as you used to deposit. If not the normal way to get your cash out of your online account is with an echeck.
It’s worth saying that easy withdrawals are a major benefit of using the legal state regulated gambling services. You may have heard the horror stories of customers at the black market offshore sites who have lost money when they have gone bust. That’s bad enough but the common problem all the offshore sites have is that it takes them a long time to pay out winnings,
The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) of 2006 made it illegal for offshore operators to use the US banking system to make payments. State regulated gambling means you can make deposits and withdrawals through banks and payment providers like Skrill.
From a purely practical perspective, easy withdrawals and the security of your money make the best argument for switching your betting back to the good ol’ USA!
Can I use my casino VIP scheme online?
Michigan sports fans that already have a VIP account at one of the casinos are familiar with the various benefits of the programs.
The new laws require online sports betting operators to operate in partnership with a casino. This creates the opportunity to merge the benefits of online play and bets made at the casinos.
M Life Rewards from MGM is an example of online/offline synergy. Online sports bettors can earn points which can be used for benefits from the M Life scheme.
One of the reasons casinos are now in favor of internet gambling is that they have seen the benefits for their retail operations. In particular, younger sports bettors and poker players who wouldn’t otherwise visit a casino, may do so to take advantage of a promotion they see online.
Can I use my online account outside Michigan?
Michigan sports betting laws only apply inside the state borders. If you cross the border into another state you can no longer bet legally with a Michigan licensed operator.
If you already have an internet sports betting account in another state such as New Jersey, you cannot use that account in Michigan. Even if the same operator, the same brand opens in Michigan, you can’t use your New Jersey account. You must open a new account in Michigan.
The big sports betting operators like MGM and DraftKings are providing the technology to make it easier for existing customers to sign up for accounts in other states, including easy sharing of account balances. However, under no circumstances can you use an online account that is not licensed in the state where you are present.
As noted above, geo-location technology is outstanding. One step over the state line and the internet sports betting operator knows that it is no longer allowed to accept your bets.
Will the Michigan sports betting odds be competitive?
The tax provisions of the new law make it easy for casinos and online sports betting operators to offer competitive odds for sports fans.
The Michigan system means several operators will compete for every sports fan who wants to bet, and that means competing on price.
Odds should be no different from those offered in Vegas. What bettors should notice is when odds vary from one Michigan operator to another. The big business of sports betting uses sophisticated algorithms and data for setting the odds of any event. The systems differ from operator to operator, so sometimes you can get better odds at a different online account. It costs nothing to check, so if you are a regular bettor it is worth establishing several online accounts.
What sports can I bet on in Michigan?
The new Michigan sports betting laws leave it up to the regulator to determine valid sporting events for betting. The law does specify that bets can’t be placed on sports events involving minors, so no high school football, but almost all other sports may be offered.
The list of sports available in other jurisdictions typically includes:
- Auto Racing
- Mixed Martial Arts
- Track and Field
For the less popular sports, wagers are only offered on major competitions. These might include the Olympic Games, and the World Cup for rugby.
What types of sports bets can I make in Michigan?
Again, the law doesn’t place restrictions on the types of bets that can be placed. Modern technology allows for some quite innovative options. The most popular of these include:
- Moneyline bets —Moneyline bets are the simplest form of bet. You simply bet on which team will win a specific game.
- Totals bets — With a total bet the winners don’t matter. The bet is on the total score of the game. Also called an over-under bet you predict the score of both teams added together. The bookmaker quotes a line and you take either the over or the under.
- Spread bets — In a spread bet you are betting that the gap between one team’s score and their opponents is larger than a specific number. Spread bets act as a type of handicapping so that despite the odds, each team has the same chance of winning. You bet on the team you think has the best chance of beating the spread. If you bet on the favorite and they win by more than the spread, you win. If you bet on the underdog and they lose by less than the spread you win.
- Futures bets — Like all bets, futures bets are about the outcome of an event that has not yet happened. The difference is that futures bets are on events a long way off. A typical futures bet would be to wager on the two teams that will make the Super Bowl, or which team will win the league championships in football.
Some bet types depend on winning several bets in a row
- Parlay bet — A parlay bet links together several individual bets. In a typical parlay, you select the winner of several games that will be decided on the same day. You have to get every game correct to win your bet. Multiple legs to a parlay mean the odds of winning can get very long. On the other hand parlay bets allow you to win a lot of cash for a small initial wager.
- Round Robin — Just like a parlay chains together several simple bets, a round robin links together several parlay bets. First you create a list of the teams you choose for your parlays. Then you choose how many legs you want each parlay to have. If you choose eight teams for your round robin list and select three leg parlays, you are making bets on all possible combinations of three teams from the total of eight. Each combination is treated as a separate parlay bet, and within the round robin, your winnings are calculated independently. Unlike a parlay, you don’t have to win every leg of the Round Robin to win. If one of your combinations wins, you get paid those winnings regardless of what happens in your other parlays.
- Teaser — A teaser bet is like a parlay but the legs of the bet are restricted to totals bets or spread bets. The advantage is that the bettor can adjust the points spread or over/under a certain number of points. This reduces the odds, making the bet easier to win, but the pay-off is lower or vice versa.
In-game wagering & In-play bets
Legal state-regulated sports betting sites get access to real time sports data that means they can offer bets even after a game has started.
With in-game bets you don’t have to pick the winner before the game starts, you can wait and see how the teams perform before placing your bet.
As the game progresses, the sports betting operator can see what impact play has had on possible outcomes—in other words, the odds change as the game progresses. They can offer odds almost instantaneously on outcomes whose probability has changed since the game began.
If you have bet on one team to win and the play is going against them, then you can place an in-game bet to protect your losses.
Other in-game bets available might be on the score at the end of a half or which player will score the most.
In countries where in-game betting is legal, it has become extremely popular. In the UK almost 80 percent of all bets placed on a match are now placed in-game. Admittedly many of these are bets placed by people who just didn’t manage to get their bet on before the match started!
These bets make watching games a lot more exciting and have become enormously popular wherever they are legal. In particular, in-game betting is another big advantage only offered by legal operators. Offshore operators not licensed in the US don’t have the same data access to make these bets possible.
The reality is that the legal betting environment offers a lot more fun than betting offshore at some dodgy operator!
Will Michigan allow bets to be cashed out early?
One further advantage of the real-time data is that operators can now offer to cash out your bet before the final outcome is known. They can use their knowledge of how the probability of you winning has changed since the game began to offer price for you to close your bet early.
Of course you pay a fee for this service. Nevertheless, it can avoid much heartache to cash out a winning bet before the opposing team makes a miracle recovery in the final quarter.
What companies will be offering sports betting?
Lots of sports betting companies want to get in on the market now that Michigan has legalized sports betting.
As mentioned above, William Hill, PointsBet , Fox Bet and playMGM will definitely be in the market. Other brands that will be pitching for a partnership with the remaining casinos include:
It would be no surprise to see all of these find a place in the market.
What other forms of internet gambling will be available in Michigan?
Michigan’s new laws are not just good news for sports fans. Online poker, online casino and online fantasy sports will all also be available. Online lottery is already available and the new laws restrict lottery games to the lottery and casinos may not offer them.
The wide variety of gambling is a sensible choice for Michigan. One of the problems highlighted by the regulator in France is that any internet gambling system that fails to offer a wide choice of games leaves a space for the black market.
Players and bettors who can only get their main game at an offshore site, take all their business offshore. On the other hand, if the legal system offers the games players want, then they have no reason not to switch.
Online poker players will get PokerStars and PartyPoker. Other brands like the WSOP and 888 are almost certain to join the market.
Online casino and slots players will soon find thousands of new slot titles and tens of varieties of table games to choose from.
Where will Michigan gambling tax revenues go?
Michigan’s gambling taxes are largely hypothecated to specific government services.
- 30 percent of gambling taxes go to the city in which the licensed casino is located. This is for use in:
“(i) The hiring, training, and deployment of street patrol officers in that city.
(ii) Neighborhood development programs designed to create jobs in that city with a focus on blighted neighborhoods.
(iii) Public safety programs such as emergency medical services, fire department programs, and street lighting in that city.
(iv) Anti-gang and youth development programs in that city.
(v) Other programs that are designed to contribute to the improvement of the quality of life in that city.
(vi) Relief to the taxpayers of the city from 1 or more taxes or fees imposed by the city.
(vii) The costs of capital improvements in that city.
(viii) Road repairs and improvements in that city.”
- The next 65 percent of revenues goes to the state fund.
- The final 5 percent goes to the Michigan agriculture equine industry development fund.
Of the 30 percent going to central state funds, $500,000 will go to the compulsive gaming prevention fund. A full $2 million goes to a fund to support first responders who have been injured.
All remaining funds, after administrative expenses go directly to the state school aid fund to be spent on education.