On Dec. 20, 2019, Michigan made history.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed a package of gambling bills to make Michigan the first state with commercial and Native American casinos, as well as online sports and online casino gaming.
Retail sports betting in Michigan debuted in March, but it was put on hiatus during the coronavirus pandemic as casinos shut down and sports were paused. But with leagues and teams resuming play, a sense of normalcy has returned at the sportsbooks across the state.
Now Michiganders await the next major launch: online casino gaming.
“The ability to gamble on the fly is the biggest thing,” Michigan resident Andrew Bernal said. “Especially during the pandemic, I see it as a good thing. It allows people who are bored on a certain night and want to entertain themselves and they have the extra money to do it, they can go ahead and do it.”
Michigan gamblers will be able to play online slots, blackjack, roulette, three-card poker, baccarat and online poker from the comfort of their homes. For some, including Bernal, that’s important given the current pandemic.
“I personally haven’t gone to any of the casinos since the pandemic started,” he said. “Just with the Michigan (Covid) cases, I don’t go somewhere where I have to go indoors with a lot of people, usually.”
Bernal’s gaming background started when he was 18 and he would make trips to Soaring Eagle Casino in Mount Pleasant. Blackjack is one of his favorite casino games, and seven years ago, his interest in sports betting piqued during a trip to Las Vegas.
Before the pandemic in Detroit, Bernal would regularly go to the MGM Grand Detroit to play blackjack. But since the shutdown and the pandemic, Bernal has looked for other gaming options online. He’s come across offshore sites offering sports betting and blackjack, but since those games are unregulated, he prefers not to play them. Instead, he’s waiting for Michigan’s online casinos to launch.
“I’m very skeptical about some of the online sites and their blackjack,” he said. “I don’t know all their rules about it, so (it’s nice) knowing (online gambling in Michigan) will be regulated by the state. Then I was also told where they’ll have a live dealer on video dealing cards if you’re at a table. I wasn’t aware of that, but that’s kind of cool that they can do that on a mobile app.”
When online gaming launches in Michigan, bettors like Bernal will have peace of mind knowing they can do so comfortably in their own homes while having the proper regulations put in place.
Here are the online casinos expected to launch in Michigan, along with their welcome bonuses:
MGM Resorts International is the owner and operator of MGM Grand Detroit, and it’s bringing its virtual experience to Michigan. The company has been live in New Jersey since 2017 and operates in two other states. Bet MGM includes a wide selection of games, including the casino classics such as blackjack, roulette, slots and more, in addition to exclusive titles. For new customers, BetMGM gives a $25 no-deposit bonus and will match the first deposit up to $1,000.
BetRivers will provide an online casino through its partnership agreement with Little River Casino Resort in Manistee. In Pennsylvania, where BetRivers is already active, the company offers both table games and slots. The welcoming bonus is a 100% first deposit match bonus, up to $250.
DraftKings is able to offer an online casino because of its partnership with Bay Mills Resorts and Casinos. In Pennsylvania and New Jersey, where DraftKings’ online casino is active, new users receive a free $35 upon signing up, in addition to a 100% deposit match up to $250. Originally started as a daily fantasy site in 2009, DraftKings has expanded its operations to include sports betting and online casinos.
Similar to DraftKings, FanDuel started with daily fantasy sports before expanding to sports betting and online casinos. The company already has an established presence in Michigan. On March 12, 2020, FanDuel entered into a collaboration with MotorCity Casino Detroit. The agreement allowed FanDuel to become the official sponsor of MotorCity’s sportsbook. FanDuel’s welcome casino bonus is unique with its $200 risk-free play. After signing up and making a minimum deposit of $10, if a user’s balance is down after 24 hours, a refund is issued for up to $200.
Golden Nugget will be able to offer its online casino services through its partnership with the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community. The company features one of the largest selections of table and slot games in New Jersey and is expected to bring the same type of expansive game library to Michigan. For new users, Golden Nugget offers a 100% deposit match up to $1,000.
Parx is more well-known in Pennsylvania where it has the largest casino complex in the state. But through a partnership with Gun Lake Casino, the casino is looking to expand into Michigan. In other states where new users sign up, Parx matches your first deposit 100% up to $500.
The world’s largest online poker site is expected to start offering real money poker and casino games in Michigan. PokerStars partnered with Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians Gaming Authority in order to launch an online casino in the state. In New Jersey and Pennsylvania, PokerStars Online Casino has offered new users one of the top welcome bonuses: deposit match bonus up to $1,500.