The Competitive Landscape of the Michigan Casino Industry

The great state of Michigan has long had a thriving casino industry, whether it’s the numerous native American casinos that dot the reservations in the northern parts of the state and the Upper Peninsula or the lower peninsula’s offerings in Detroit, Battle Creek and Mt. Pleasant... among many other places.

Photo of Michigan at night.
Photo by William Duggan on Unsplash

The gaming landscape is starting to change because of the prevalence of online casinos and sportsbooks, and here’s a look at what each of the different betting outlets has to offer for prospective users.

Mobile Gaming: the Way of the Future?

The mobile gaming industry has been all the rage over the past few years, and it’s easy to see why. In today’s increasingly online world, one of the best abilities for any platform is availability. Because one can access mobile betting platforms with the tap of a button, advertising works better than ever before.

It’s not like you’ll have to plan out a trip halfway across the state in order to be able to bet after seeing an enticing billboard ad: it’s as simple as downloading the requisite app and making an account, no matter if you’re sitting on your coach at home, on break at the office or waiting in line at the gas pump or grocery store.

Even better is the fact that most Michigan Online Casinos come equipped with plenty of promotions for first-time users, like free spins of the slot machine. It can be a little disconcerting getting used to the mobile version of casino games, but you can have your foot already in the door with these risk free betting options.

Keeping an Eye on Taxes

It’s even easier to get into mobile sports betting in Michigan than it is in many other states, because you won’t be penalized for using online sportsbooks. Many other states levy higher tax rates on the mobile books than they do at in-person locations like casinos, hoping to dissuade potential bettors from running wild because of the easy access that betting from their phones creates.

Michigan has no such stipulation, however, as you’ll be subject to the same 4.25 percent tax rate no matter if you win at a physical casino or from your phone. It’s one of the chief drawbacks of mobile betting in much of the rest of the country, but bettors in the Great Lakes state get off comparatively scot free.

The only major difference you might run into when it comes to taxes is that some municipalities levy an extra city tax on gambling winnings. Unless you win massive amounts of money in one sitting, you probably aren’t going to get a tax form to help you report the money you won or lost every year, so it’s an excellent idea to keep a running balance of your gambling successes and failures so that you don’t run into any surprises on Tax Day. Just as you get taxed for the money you win, you can write off the money you lose, so keep track of everything to help yourself save money when April rolls around.

In Defense of the Old Ways: Retail Sportsbooks

At the same time, though, there's still plenty to be said for betting at a physical location. Many casinos are really going above and beyond to improve their hospitality so that they don’t lose customers to the mobile books.

At the end of the day, there’s only so much you can do with mobile betting: the ability to play casino games and win money from your phone is hard to beat, but you aren’t getting the creature comforts you could at a physical casino. There are no hotels on location, no complimentary food and drinks, no live music or spas for you to enjoy as you get some much needed time off.

I have a lot of family in the Upper Peninsula, so I have great memories of going up to the Kewadin Casino in Sault Ste. Marie every year. If you make the trek up during the winter, they turn it into a beautiful northern resort, a cozy atmosphere that you have to see to believe.

If you don’t want to brave the Mackinac Bridge during the depths of winter, the Little River Casino and Resort on the shores of Lake Michigan is another excellent option to give you that cozy, northern feel. Replete with outdoor gas fire pits to keep you warm on a cold winter's night — and, of course, all the betting options one could ever ask for — Little River is roughly an hour from Cadillac and Traverse City, making it a much more reasonable trip for those who live in the southern reaches of the state.