Michigan Gaming Control Board and Best MGCB Casinos

MGCB Casino LicenseThe rules surrounding gambling in the US state of Michigan changed substantially back in 2019. For the first time in history, online casino gaming is legal! But there are quite a few restrictions on it, and that’s where the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) comes in.

There’s a lot to take in when it comes to the rules surrounding online casinos in Michigan. So, buckle up and stick with us as we shed some light on how it all works. Find below all the casinos holding this gambling license.

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The Michigan Gaming Control Board

The Michigan Gaming Control Board or MGCB is the government organization that oversees all gambling activity in the state of Michigan. It was formed back in 1996-97 to govern the physical gambling operators in the state. The most notable members of the MGCB are Executive Director Henry Williams and Board Chair Linda Forte.

In 2019, Michigan's state legislature passed major updates to the state's gambling law, making Michigan the 20th state to allow sports betting and the 5th state to allow online casino games.

In Michigan, online gambling can only be arranged by the three commercial brick-and-mortar casinos in Detroit: Motor City Casino, Greektown Casino and MGM Grand Detroit. Each of them is only allowed to run one online casino site, one sportsbook and one horse racing site.

In addition, the 12 federally recognized tribes can run their own casinos, both online and offline. Their activities don't fall under the jurisdiction of the MGCB but are governed under separate agreements with the tribes and the state.

On this page, we discuss the licensing system and gambling laws in Michigan, list the licensed online casino operators and answer the most frequently asked questions about the system.

Here's what's behind the MGCB casino license

How the Michigan Gaming Control Board Works

Originally, the MGCB was set up to licence and regulate land-based casinos in Michigan state. However, everything changed in 2019. A law was passed as a result of a state-wide vote to allow online casino gaming and sports betting for all citizens of Michigan.

This was a big change for the three land-based casinos of Michigan: MGM Grand Detroit, MotorCity Casino and Greektown Casino-hotel. For the first time, they were able to operate online. And when they can do that, they can operate anywhere in the world (almost).

To enable this, all they had to do was pitch their ideas to the MGCB. And you already know all three of them did! They'll need to ensure that they pay the relatively high tax rate of 20-28% plus the application fee that we'll cover in more detail later on.

Protecting the Players' Funds

Online casinos in Michigan will need to ensure that they operate within the strict gambling laws in the state. These include making sure that the players' money is well looked after. They can't be seen holding onto the money for too long or charging giant fees for withdrawing!

And don't think the MGCB won't be checking up on them! They're constantly on the lookout to ensure the casino's act with due diligence. Plus, it's not exactly hard to police. There are only three of them, after all…

Online Gaming Licensed Providers

In Michigan, everything related to gambling is regulated and licensed by the MGCB. In addition to the actual casinos and betting sites, the game suppliers and the casino platforms also need to be closely vetted and approved by the gaming regulator.

Having to license every firm and individual that operates in the gambling space may seem overzealous, but there's a good reason for doing this. When everyone goes through the same application process and passes the mandatory checks, players can be sure that bad actors are weeded out. You wouldn't want convicted criminals running the games or have regulators and politicians owning the casino they're supposed to be supervising? Those are among the things that the system is set out to prevent.

The terms around gaming companies are often a bit murky and used interchangeably, but here's how they're usually defined:

  • Operator: A casino or sportsbook company that runs the website and offers the games to the players.
  • Supplier: A manufacturer of physical and digital games. Also known as a game provider, it sells or leases its product to the operators and platforms.
  • Platform: A software company that combines games, payment methods and user interface into one smooth package. An operator buys the platform suite for its website as a turnkey solution.

Of these three classes, the operators are the only customer-facing companies. The others are B2B companies whose client is the operator. Below, we look at these in more detail.

Licensed Operators in Michigan

Soon after passing the new gambling laws, the Michigan Gaming Control Board issued provisional gaming licenses to 15 gambling operators. They include local brands, big names in the US, and some international behemoths.

Currently, there are 15 licensed online casino operators in Michigan:

  • Golden Nugget Casino
  • Caesars Casino
  • BetMGM Casino
  • DraftKings Casino
  • FanDuel Casino
  • WynnBET Casino
  • Stars Casino
  • BetRivers Casino
  • PointsBet Casino
  • FireKeepers Casino
  • Play Gun Lake Casino
  • Four Winds Casino
  • TwinSpires Casino
  • Barstool Casino
  • Eagle Casino & Sports

Licensed suppliers and platform providers 

In Michigan, every firm or individual providing goods and services to the gambling industry must apply for a supplier license if those goods and services are directly related to gaming activities. 

If a potential supplier's goods or services tick at least one of the following boxes, they must apply for a license before they can offer their services to Michigan casinos:

  1. They are specifically designed to be used in gaming.
  2. They are needed to conduct gaming.
  3. They can affect the outcome of a gambling game.
  4. They can affect how gross receipts from gambling are stored or calculated.

In addition, any repair and maintenance of gaming equipment, security and surveillance is a licensed activity.

As you can see, a whole range of companies falls within the licensing system. In addition to actual game suppliers that make the slots and table games, everyone in touch with gambling operations must have a license.

In Michigan, suppliers need to have a potential partner they will offer their services to before they can apply for a license. In addition, companies and individuals need to have a clean record, be financially stable and not have too much political, regulatory or financial influence that would create a conflict of interest.

Applying for an MGCB Licence

The casinos themselves (MotorCity and the rest) don't have much interest in operating online. They're strictly in the land domain! But that opportunity to get an online casino licence with a land-based casino in Detroit shouldn't waste. So, they make partnerships with online casino operators or sports betting agencies. As a result, the pairings look like this:

  • MotorCity Casino trades online as FanDuel
  • Greektown Casino trades as Barstool Sports 

The only exception is MGM. They've decided to take on the online world by themselves. As such, they trade online as BetMGM if you like the sound of playing with them! How much have these best online casinos had to pay for the luxury of trading online? A fair amount. The joining fee is $50,000, and the annual fee starts at $100,000. Casinos aren't cheap.

How to Make a Complaint via the Michigan Gaming Control Board

If you don't like how one of these three online Michigan casino sites operates, you might want to reach out to the MGCB with a complaint. Fortunately, the process to do that is very straightforward.

All you have to do is fill out this form. After you've done that, the MGCB will aim to get back to you within ten days with some form of resolution. This will either be that they have found that you have grounds for a complaint (in which case they will investigate further) or that you do not have grounds so that the case will be closed.

Safe betting tips in the best MGCB online casinos

Online Gambling and Fantasy Contests

Having updated its gambling regulations in 2019, the state of Michigan now allows several forms of online gambling:

  • Online casinos
  • Online sports betting
  • Online horse racing betting
  • Online poker
  • Daily fantasy sports

These are governed by three separate laws:

  • Lawful Internet Gaming Act
  • Lawful Sports Betting Act
  • Fantasy Contests Consumer Protection Act (draft)

With such a wide selection of games to choose from, players in Michigan are spoilt for choice. In addition, the careful licensing system ensures that bad actors are weeded out and only reputable companies can operate in the state.

The minimum gambling age in Michigan is 21 for commercial casino games and sports betting, and 18 for poker, horse racing, lottery, and daily fantasy sports. Some Native-American casinos also allow 18-year-olds to play casino games.

Millionaire Party

The Millionaire Party is a charity initiative run by the Michigan Gaming Control Board. Under the Millionaire Party program, qualified charity organizations can organize events and fund-raisers with gambling games and play money.

The Millionaire Party events can be held in the organization's own space or other approved locations. The event organizers can use their own staff and equipment to run the games or rely on one of the licensed suppliers in the state. The most popular game offered at such events is Texas Hold'em.

The Millionaire Party initiative sets out conditions for eligible organizations. To host Millionaire Party events, the organization must be one of the following types, operating without profit for its members:

  • Religious
  • Educational
  • Service
  • Senior Citizens
  • Fraternity
  • Veterans

In addition, the organization must have existed for at least 5 years or have a tax exemption status.

To see if your organization meets the requirements, read more on the MGCB website.

Indian and Tribal Casinos

In addition to the state-regulated online and brick-and-mortar casinos, Michigan is home to 27 Indian casinos. Owned and operated by 12 federally recognized tribes, there are Indian casinos in 21 counties.

There are two different age limits for Michigan Native-American casinos. Some let you play when you're at least 18 years old, whereas in others you have to be 21 or older.

18+ casinos:

  • Bay Mills Casino in Brimley
  • Island Resort Casino in Harris
  • Leelanau Sands Casino in Peshawbestown
  • Little River Casino Resort in Manistee
  • Northern Waters Casino Resort in Watersmeet
  • Ojibwa Casinos in Baraga and Marquette
  • Saganing Eagles Landing Casino in Standish
  • Soaring Eagle Casino Resort in Mount Pleasant
  • Turtle Creek Casino in Williamsburg
  • Kewadin Casinos in Christmas, Hessel, Manistique, Sault Ste. Marie and St. Ignace
  • Odawa Casino in Petoskey

21+ casinos:

  • Firekeepers Casino in Battle Creek
  • Four Winds Casinos in Dowagiac
  • Four Winds Casinos in Hartford and New Buffalo
  • Gun Lake Casino in Wayland
  • Odawa Casino in Mackinaw City

Horse Racing

Michigan is not a huge horse racing destination but does have two race tracks: Hazel Park and Northville Downs.

Hazel Park has held races since 1949 and there's still racing every year between May and September.

Northville Downs has hosted live racing for over 100 years. The racing season for Northville runs from March to October.

In addition to the on-site events, Michigan racing fans can enjoy the thrill of thoroughbred and standardbred racing online. Sportsbooks such as TwinSpires even have dedicated horse racing sections with tailored bonuses.

Finding an MGCB Casino Online

You won't have to do a lot of searching to find an online casino site licensed in Michigan. That's because there are only three of them! You've got a choice of the following:

  • Barstool Sports casino
  • BetMGM casino
  • FanDuel casino

But how do you know which of these is the best one to sign up for? There are a few factors that go into this. They're all big and legit casinos, so you don't have to worry about security as much as you would with some smaller casinos.

So, you can begin to analyze them based on other criteria such as the quality of their welcome bonus, how good their website and mobile app is and the selection of available games. Do they have live casino games? How many slots are there? These are all things you should consider as you begin your search for an online casino in Michigan! For more help with it, try the following tips.

Detroit Casinos

In 1996, when Michigan legalized commercial gambling, it accepted the applications of three companies that wanted to build casinos in Detroit:

  • Motor City Casino
  • Greektown Casino
  • MGM Grand Detroit

These are still the only commercial casinos in Michigan. In addition, there are 27 Indian casinos owned and operated by 12 federally recognized Native American tribes.

Below, we look at each Detroit casino in more detail.

Land-Based Casino Locations

Motor City Casino

Is the only locally owned casino in Detroit. Located on Grand River Avenue, the Motor City Casino boasts a wide range of gambling, entertainment and dining opportunities.

The casino features over 2,500 games, including popular slots and classic table games. You can spin the reels for as little as 10 cents per round, or put your money on the table for up to $100 per hand. You can choose from the usual suspects, such as craps, blackjack, roulette, baccarat and casino poker, or play one of their many modern variations.

Motor City Casino is also one of the top entertainment venues in Detroit. In the summer and fall of 2022, you can see George Clinton, Patti LaBelle and the Hunks Show.

Hollywood Casino at Greektown

Is the Detroit casino closest to the Detroit River. In a city that lives and breathes anything with motors, the Greektown casino is the most convenient place to play. Located on Chrysler Drive, you can access the parking garage practically from the highway. Alternatively, you can use the hotel's valet service on St. Antoine Street.

Once you're there, you can enjoy Greektown's fantastic entertainment and gaming opportunities. The Hollywood Casino at Greektown features 100,000 square feet of gaming space with over 3,000 slots, video poker machines, table games and a 24-hour poker room. There's also Barstool Sportsbook with 40 betting kiosks and 25 HDTVs for viewing the top games and events.

Speaking of events, Greektown has a long history of arranging both corporate and personal events. And if you're in for something special, there's plenty of entertainment to choose from. The Greektown casino has partnered up with the Detroit Music Hall, bringing in the top names of music, comedy and drama. In 2022, you can see Wanda Sykes, Boyz II Men, and Tower of Power, just to name a few.

MGM Grand Detroit  

MGM Grand Detroit is everything you can expect from a world-class casino resort. Owned by one of the biggest casino resort companies in the world, MGM Grand Detroit has the look and feel of AAA Four Diamond luxury.

The hotel offers a wide range of amenities and entertainment, plus a good selection of restaurants and nightlife. Granted, you can't enjoy a similar cornucopia of fine dining eateries and shows as the best brick-and-mortar casinos in the US will offer. However, you'll still get your belly full of prime steak and soak in the pool like in the good old days.

When it comes to gambling, MGM Grand Detroit doesn't leave you hanging. The casino offers the first smoke-free gaming environment in the city, with its two Crystal Clear Gaming areas. You can enjoy a wide selection of popular slots, plus table games such as roulette, blackjack, and baccarat.

Read the Player Reviews

Lots of people have played the three online casinos licensed in Michigan. As a result, there will be many player reviews out there for you to read. This is a good idea because it'll give you an honest opinion of which casino is the best of the three. Naturally, you're more likely to see better reviews for the casino site that's the best.

This will also be a good way to find out which of the casinos isn't worth your time. Casinos with many scalding reviews are worth staying away from, that's for sure! Here are the top casinos with this review:

RankingOnline CasinoMGCB LicenseOur Score
1BetMGM CasinoYes9/10
2Twinspires CasinoYes10/10
3Betrivers CasinoYes6/10
4Four Winds CasinoYes8/10
5Golden Nugget CasinoYes8/10
6Wynn CasinoYes7/10
7William Hill CasinoYes10/10

Check the Terms and Conditions

We just mentioned that casino sites have welcome bonuses for new players a lot of the time, which can be a great thing! On top of this, they can even offer ongoing bonuses to their existing customers to make sure they don't go anywhere.

While these bonuses may look amazing at first glance, checking the terms and conditions is important. You may find some hidden clauses that make it difficult to withdraw your winnings. At worst, they may require retrospective deposits from your pocket to release the winnings.

Responsible Gambling Under the MGCB Licence

How do Michigan online casinos look after you, the player? The MGCB requires that the casinos they licence have a duty of care to everybody who uses them, which is good for our safety. There are a couple of ways they do this. Primarily, they need to check the players' IDs to ensure that they are over 21 years old. Failure to do this could result in some serious prosecution.

Further, they must offer safe gambling tools such as reality checks—these check-in with players to ensure that they're not getting carried away with their time or money.

Safe betting tips in the best MGCB online casinos

Our Opinion on the MGCB License

The MGCB is a well-organized company. So much so that it feels a bit of a shame that they're only able to work with the three casinos which are already in Michigan! We hope to see some new land-based casinos pop up in the city of Detroit in the future. Who knows what the future holds? A lot has changed so far, so it might continue. 

MGCB Casinos FAQ

Getting your head around the MGCB and how casinos are licensed in Michigan can be confusing. That's why people have questions to ask! We've got the answers to the most common questions coming right up.

Is online gambling legal in Michigan?

It is now! The law changed back in 2019 to allow online gambling to be legal in the state of Michigan for the first time in history. As such, the first Michigan-license online casinos were born. A great time for gamblers in Michigan!

How many casinos are there in Michigan?

Right now, there are as many as 26 casinos in Michigan! Interestingly, however, only three of them are licensed by the Michigan Gaming Control Board. That’s because the other 23 are owned by Native American tribes and so they’re actually licensed by a separate body altogether.

What is the Michigan Gaming Control Board?

The three casinos in Michigan (all of which are in the city of Detroit) that aren’t owned by Native American tribes are licensed by the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB). The MGCB basically just makes sure the casinos are operating within the law, and it does a great job of this.

Where can a Michigan gambling licence be used?

If you’re lucky enough to be a part of one of the three online casino sites licensed in Michigan then you’ll be able to do business in a large portion of the world. That is, of course, except for countries where online casino gaming is legal, such as Japan.

Is sports gambling legal in Michigan?

There’s actually a big sport betting culture in Michigan as well. In fact, each of the three casino sites that do business in Michigan also has its own sportsbooks. Casino and sports betting go hand in hand in the state of Michigan.

Is there gambling in Michigan?

There sure is now. After the law changed in 2019, gambling is alive and well in this state. A lot of the gambling takes place in the land-based casinos but increasingly, lots of it is taking place online these days as well.

What are the drawbacks of an MGCB gambling licence?

There is one clear and obvious drawback of the MGCB gambling licence and it's that only land-based casino in Michigan is able to apply for a licence. It’s very restrictive! On top of that, the taxes and application fees are quite costly.

How do I tell if an MGCB gaming licence is fake?

It would be pretty hard to fake a gaming licence in Michigan considering how limited the gaming board actually is. If you do have any concerns, however, you can always reach out to them.

Loren Oller
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I consider myself to be an avid guitar player, sports enthusiast, and a big fan of blackjack and social casinos. My task is pretty easy to resume.. make sure you are well informed on all US casinos that might interest you. I've been writing reviews based on my experiences for a while and I'm happy to say that my work will truly help you even if it's just by telling you the legal gambling laws of a state or the top games that are trending right now!
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Reviewed by Julia Attard, Senior Author