Michigan shares a border with Ontario, Canada. As such, many Canadians choose Michigan as a vacation destination. However, do they go to Michigan to gamble? Let’s explore.
Michigan’s Gambling Laws
In the state of Michigan, gambling is defined as “accepting money or a valuable thing contingent upon the result of a game, race, contest, or happening of an uncertain event.” It is regulated at the state level, and Michigan often uses gambling taxes to pay for education or other essential state services. Therefore, for the most part, any gambling that fails to benefit the state in some ways is usually deemed illegal.
Michigan’s gambling laws permit residents to gamble on Native American land, bet on horse races at licensed tracks, play Bingo, and place minor bets at league bowling alleys and other extremely minor forms of gambling.
All types of private gambling are illegal in the state of Michigan. Therefore, for example, you cannot host a low-stakes private poker game with friends. You also can’t bet on Super Bowl squares. However, you can conduct a raffle or play a game of Bingo at senior care facilities and carnivals.
The state legalized online gambling and online casinos in MI in December 2019.
Canada’s Gambling Laws
In 1985, the Canadian government declared that provinces and territories would monitor and legislate all gambling-related affairs. Consequently, rules about gambling vary depending on where you are in Canada.
Here is a quick look at the forms of gambling that are legal in each province/territory:
- Alberta = Casinos, Lottery, Sports Betting
- British Columbia = Casinos, Lottery, Horse Racing, Sports Betting
- Manitoba = Sports Betting, Casinos
- New Brunswick = Lottery, Sports Betting, Horse Racing, Casinos
- Newfoundland and Labrador = Lottery, Sports Betting
- Nova Scotia = Lottery, Casino, Sports Betting
- Ontario = Casino, Sports Betting, Lottery
- Prince Edward Island = Casinos, Lottery, Sports Betting
- Quebec = Horse Racing, Sports Betting, Casinos, Lottery
- Saskatchewan = Casino, Lottery, Horse Racing, Sports Betting
- Northwest Territories = Sports Betting, Lottery
- Nunavut = Sports Betting, Lottery
- Yukon = Lottery, Casinos, Sports Betting
However, all Canadians are free to play at online casinos, including those provided by companies located outside of Canada. That being said, there is a stipulation for Canadians when gambling online. Canadians can only play on an online gambling platform if it’s located in the province they are in or if the online casino is outside of Canada.
Additionally, Canadians do not have to pay tax on winnings from horse racing, sports betting, lotteries, or other games of chance.
Should Canadians Gamble in Michigan?
Despite the close proximity of Michigan to Canada, it doesn’t make fiscal sense for Canadians to go to Michigan to gamble. This is because Canadians do not have to pay taxes on their winnings. However, if a Canadian wins money from gambling in the U.S., they are subject to a 30% withholding fee of the total win. So, for example, if a Canadian wins $1600 at poker in a Michigan casino, they’ll only walk away with $1120.
However, up until 2021, Canadians may have wanted to go to Michigan to place bets on sporting events. This is because sports betting was legalized in Michigan in 2020, whereas Canada only legalized it in 2021.
It used to be that traveling to Las Vegas, Nevada was one of the few completely legal ways to bet on sports in North America. However, in 2018, a U.S. Supreme Court ruling struck down the ban on sports betting in other jurisdictions. Since then, a number of states have legalized sports betting, including Michigan and other states near or on the Canadian border. As a result, Canadians had the option of traveling to Michigan to place sports bets.
However, in 2021, the Canadian government legalized gambling on individual sporting events at the discretion of the provinces and territories. Ontario, Michigan’s closest neighbor, was one of the first provinces to jump on the bandwagon and give the okay for residents to bet on single games.
Furthermore, Canadians don’t benefit from gambling in the U.S. In Canada, gambling winnings aren’t taxable. However, anything won from gambling in the U.S. by a Canadian is subject to a 30% withholding fee. Additionally, Super Bowl square betting is illegal in both Michigan and Canada. Therefore, it doesn’t make sense for Canadians to go to Michigan to gamble.