Michigan Interstate Poker Traffic Up 32% At PokerStars, BetMGM Next To Join

Written By Hill Kerby on December 8, 2023
Graphic showing PokerStars' interstate online poker play between Michigan and New Jersey has increased traffic 32%

This year has been monumental for Michigan online poker. The Great Lakes State is now the number one online poker jurisdiction in the nation.

Online poker players in Michigan gained the ability to participate against players across state lines. That started on Jan. 1, when PokerStars MI entered into shared liquidity with PokerStars NJ.

Since then, cash traffic has grown in Michigan by 18.7% year-over-year. PokerStars’ market share has increased, contributing to Michigan overtaking Pennsylvania as the top online poker market in the US.

This is only the tip of the iceberg, too. BetMGM recently announced plans to integrate shared liquidity on its online poker skins, creating even greater potential demand for Michigan online poker looking ahead. Keep reading to learn more.

Shared liquidity pays off for PokerStars and Michigan

 

PokerStars Michigan officially merged player pools with New Jersey on Jan. 1, less than two years after it went live. Eleven months later, PokerStars MI has a 32% YoY increase in traffic.

Michigan’s online poker accounted for shared liquidity when it went into law, allowing the state to “fast track” its way to where it sits today. As Michigan’s first online poker site, PokerStars already held the top spot in the state before its shared liquidity began.

Shared liquidity enabled PokerStars to increase the gap between it and Michigan’s other sites. BetMGM Poker MI traffic is down 10%, and WSOP.com MI is down 4%, suggesting some of its players have switched to the more robust offerings at PokerStars.

Overall traffic is up for the year, too, meaning PokerStars’ gains outweigh BetMGM’s and WSOP’s declines. This suggests that interstate online poker is more attractive than ring-fenced player pools. (What a concept.)

That growth has recently enabled Michigan to overtake Pennsylvania as the top online poker market, gaining a 29% market share versus 28.89% in PA. This growth has also contributed to an excellent 2023 so far for Michigan online casinos, with nearly $1.6 billion in revenue so far this year.

BetMGM shared liquidity ‘imminent’

It’s impressive that Michigan became the US’s number one online poker market within a year of PokerStars merging player pools with its New Jersey client. Now, BetMGM will follow in its footsteps.

In BetMGM’s Dec. 4 business update, the company said shared liquidity for its poker clients was “imminent.”

At a minimum, that would allow for merged player pools in Michigan and BetMGM’s three NJ clients (BetMGM Poker, Partypoker and Borgata Poker). This would make it the second Michigan online poker site to offer shared liquidity. WSOP.com is ring-fenced in Michigan and Pennsylvania despite having combined player pools in New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware.

Currently, BetMGM is the only primary US operator not to offer shared liquidity in any of its markets. It operates independently in Michigan, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

More expansion already in the works

In addition to the above news, West Virginia recently announced its first significant step forward since legalizing online poker in 2019. The Mountain State joined Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware as the fifth state to join the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement (MSIGA).

West Virginia online poker could go live next year and have shared liquidity on day one. Although its population and projected traffic are relatively low, the news creates momentum for future states to follow suit.

When West Virginia online poker goes live, BetMGM and PokerStars should include their player pools with Michigan’s and New Jersey’s, adding even more of a boost.

Online poker has moved slowly since first becoming legal in 2013. However, its recent progress leaves room for hope throughout the rest of this decade. If Michigan can become the top market in under three years of operations, the least we can do is hope more states compete over the next few years.

When will WSOP.com MI share player pools?

WSOP.com faces a unique situation compared to its competitors, PokerStars and BetMGM. It is the only operator licensed in Nevada and Delaware (cash games only), while all three sites operate in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Michigan. 

Pennsylvania requires all operators to keep player pools within state lines, meaning WSOP.com could, in theory, become the first four-market site.

Unfortunately, WSOP.com’s shared liquidity between DE, NJ and NV predates its launches in PA and MI. Those subsequent launches came on WSOP’s new software, which is incompatible with the outdated software the first three states still use.

Before Michigan (and West Virginia) can join forces with New Jersey and Nevada – including playing for coveted WSOP bracelets – WSOP.com will need to upgrade its software in those states. Until news of such an announcement comes, we don’t expect it to happen anytime soon.

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Hill Kerby

Hill Kerby comes from a background of poker, sports and psychology. He brings all of these areas into his writing, where he feels fortunate to be able to create value in the growing, legal betting industry.

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