Michigan is not the best state to enter into as an operator of online casinos as any form of gambling operation aside from those specifically authorized by the state can result in up to ten years imprisonment or fines of up to $100,000 pursuant to 432.218(1).

When it comes to unlawful gambling in the State of Michigan, it is better to be the loser than to be the winner:

750.314 Winning at gambling.

"Any person who by playing at cards, dice, or any other game, or by betting or putting up money on cards, or by any other means or device in the nature of betting on cards, or betting of any kind, wins or obtains any sum of money or any goods, or any article of value whatever, is guilty of a misdemeanor if the money, goods, or articles so won or obtained are of the value of not more than $50.00. If the money, goods, or articles so won or obtained are of the value of more than $50.00, the person is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than 1 year or a fine of not more than $1,000.00."

750.315 Losing at gambling.

"Losing at gambling—Any person who shall lose any sum of money, or any goods, article or thing of value, by playing or betting on cards, dice or by any other device in the nature of such playing or betting, and shall pay or deliver the same or any part thereof to the winner, and shall not, within 3 months after such loss, without covin or collusion, prosecute with effect for such money or goods, the winner to whom such money or goods shall have been so paid or delivered, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine not exceeding 3 times the value of such money or goods. Such loser may sue for and recover such money in an action for money had and received to the use of the plaintiff; and such goods, article or valuable thing in an action of replevin, or the value thereof in an action on the case."

Winners at illegal gambling can theoretically go to jail for up to one year and face fines of up to $1,000 if the amount won is greater than $50.00. Losers, on the other hand, have the right to sue within three months to recover the monies lost, and if they fail to do so, the winner becomes guilty of a misdemeanor and may be forced to pay a fine of triple the value of the money won!

In terms of illegal gambling busts in the state, we have the usual illegal sports betting busts.

In 2009, there were some arrests in connection with running illegal gambling houses, meaning buildings that housed slot and/or video poker machines:

In any event, despite the arrests for unauthorized forms of gambling, there is nothing that suggests that anyone has ever been arrested in Michigan for participating in online gambling as a mere player. It simply doesn’t actually happen.  

DFS bills in Michigan have stalled as has any attempt recently to legalize and regulate other forms of online gambling, but given their liberality in other forms of gambling (most are actually legal) there is a good chance that Michigan will soon get on board with both of these forms of gambling as well. For the time being, I would suggest that Michigan is lightly restrictive simply because players could theoretically incur penalties.



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