Is Sports Betting Legal in Michigan?

Michigan is home to an enthusiastic sports base. They have a plethora of professional athletic teams, in addition to a couple collegiate programs that draw large amounts of local and national interest. The city of Detroit is home to all of its major sports squads, and the fans are routinely recognized as one of the most intense apologists in America. Michigan has some pending sports-gambling legislature that matches this oft-revered (though sometimes-maligned) passion.

Michigan Sports Betting Law

Right now, Michigan’s sports betting laws do not differ drastically from other places in the United States. The usual games are allowed—horse racing, casino table games, social gambling, poker (in casinos), etc. But some members of local government are attempting to push the bill and expand laws to legalize other forms of gambling, which in essence, throws Michigan on the more liberal side of the wagering fence.

Casino Options Aplenty

Nineteen tribal-operated casinos are scattered throughout the state of Michigan.

Ownership is split among 14 different tribes, with most of them showing up in different cities, rather than same-sector clusters. Michigan saves the casino groupings for its state-licensed big-company establishments. Three of them can be found in Detroit, further driving up that city’s appeal next to its four professional sports teams.

Cloudy Poker Laws

In Michigan, if you’re not playing poker inside a casino, it’s safe to assume you’re breaking some law. Weekly poker games among friends are the likely exception, but Michigan has worked had to obscure the language on games that balance chance with skill, no doubt in hopes it’ll dissuade people from participating in events outside tribally and state-licensed casinos that drive up revenue for the local government. To cover yourself, just avoid playing video poker in the back room of shady establishments or entering poker tournaments for non-charity purposes.

Daily Fantasy Betting is Still Pending

A bill has been proposed to legalize daily fantasy sports in Michigan, but the government, as of summer 2017, has yet to rule in one way or the other. It’s not yet known which way the ruling with lean either. Something that might support it passing through: Other gambling bills being proposed are more ambitious, so this one will look rather innocent in comparison.

The Attempt to Legalize Sports Betting

Michigan is among the states that have more and more representatives coming out in support of legalizing sports betting. Their case rests on a simple, albeit powerful, argument: It’s happening, regardless of their stance.

People won’t stop gambling online just because Michigan has gray-area legislature in that department. They won’t even stop frequenting digital sportsbooks and casinos if it’s made outright illegal. Participation will continue to take place. It will remain rampant. So why not strive to monitor it and get a slice of the revenue, much like the state, and other states, have done with casinos?

The catch here is that monitoring online gambling will be fairly tough.

States are easily able to command imposed taxes from domestic agencies like those of fantasy sports sites FanDuel and Draft Kings. Diving into the online gaming industry, which is dominated by overseas companies, will be far more difficult. Demanding reports from the bettors themselves won’t do it, and these gambling sites needn’t cooperate with Michigan unless they’re bent on legally tapping into the United States’ wagering community.

Opening domestic sportsbooks would help combat this, but it isn’t everything. So until Michigan or another state comes up with an effective way to monopolize digital gambling, all proposed bills will either be rejected or, at best, remain in perpetual limbo.

Michigan Gambling Law Overview

Please see below for a more specific breakdown of what betting types are and aren’t allowed in Michigan at this time.

  • Casino Gambling: Legal
  • Tribal Gambling: Legal
  • Poker: Legal (with restrictions)
  • Horse-Race Betting: Legal
  • Dog-Race Betting: Not legal
  • Lottery: Legal
  • Daily Fantasy Betting: Not legal (but a bill is pending)
  • Social Gambling: Legal (with restrictions)
  • Charitable Gambling: Legal
  • Online Gambling: Not specified 

Michigan Sports Teams

Detroit Lions (NFL)

Pretty much every NFL team enjoys an engaged and loyal fanbase, and the Detroit Lions are no different. They carry historical mystique, thanks to their longstanding existence—they became the Detroit Lions in 1934—and four championship appearances (three victories) during the 1950s alone.

Success from six decades previously cannot sustain popularity, but the Lions have been able to shoot some of the gaps since. They were playoff staples—mostly Wild Card appearances—through the 1990s, and they’ve clinched a postseason berth in three of the past six seasons, which is no small feat in the NFL’s turbulent competitive climate.

One thing that’ll help their national and local standing: Making it past the Wild Card game for the first time since 1991.

Detroit Tigers (MLB)

With 117 seasons of existence to its name, the Detroit Tigers are yet another Michigan-based franchise steeped in rich history. They only have 16 playoff appearances to their name, a wildly low number given their years of operation, but they’ve won 11 pennants and four World Series.

Sprinkle in their run of quasi-dominance between 2011 and 2014, which included one World Series bid, and they’ve done just enough to remain one of MLB’s foremost draws.

Detroit Pistons (NBA)

The Detroit Pistons are low-key one of the NBA’s most storied franchises. They have secured 48 playoff berths through 69 years of existence, won three championships and, in the 1980s through early 2000s, served as the quintessential beacon for how every squad should play defense.

Times have been tough, however, in recent years.

The Pistons have nabbed just one playoff berth since 2009, and despite one of the Association’s highest payrolls at the moment, they’re far from a bona fide postseason staple. There is hope they’ll return to the NBA’s springtime dance in 2018, but head coach and president Stan Van Gundy really needs to get more from his most highest paid players.

Point Guard Reggie Jackson and Center Andre Drummond are being compensated like cornerstones, and yet, they’re constantly bandied about the trade rumor mill, because the Pistons aren’t sure that’s what they actually are or will ever become.

Michigan’s Biggest Sporting Event of the Year

No one sporting event stands out in Michigan on an annual basis, but that’s only because the Nascar contests they host come on a rolling, rotating term. Make no mistake, though, their Nascar events are a big deal. How could they not be? Detroit, after all, is known as the Motor City.

These races typically take place at the Michigan International Speedway, which holds around 71,000 fans. The most frequently included races are the Monster Energy Nascar Cup Series, Nascar Xfinity Series and Nascar Camping World Truck Series.

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