Michigan Reviews Online Poker Interstate Agreement, But Launch Still Not Imminent

Written By Matt Schoch on June 9, 2021

Online poker is off to a nice start in Michigan — but that nice start will remain within state lines.

Two operators offer intrastate play, and BetMGM Poker MI and PokerStars Michigan have had a strong few months.

However, bigger prize pools, more tournaments and more players will come once the fenced-in Michigan online poker market tears barriers down.

The Michigan Gaming Control Board is reviewing an agreement for Michigan players to compete against players from other states, its executive director told PlayMichigan recently.

However, that doesn’t mean multi-jurisdictional play is imminent in the Great Lakes State.

Online poker compact among first tasks in Williams era

This week, Henry Williams began his first full month as executive director of the MGCB.

With online gambling launching on Jan. 22, there is still much work to do as the state completes its first full year with internet sports betting, online casinos and online poker.

One of the biggest tasks is compacting with other states to allow for interstate online poker play. The concept has already been approved by lawmakers and the governor in a legislative clean-up last year.

Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware are part of a multi-state agreement for play across each other’s state lines. Pennsylvania and Michigan are expected to join soon, but regulators are at work on approval.

Williams told PlayMichigan that approval process is underway.

“We’re in discussions now with the other jurisdictions,” Williams said. “We’re looking over the agreement.”

However, although that might make it seem like launch is imminent, Williams still hasn’t adjusted what seems like a conservative timeframe for interstate poker agreements to be made.

“We’re hoping by the end of the year, we’re going to have something in place for that,” he continued.

WSOP waiting on interstate play to launch in Michigan

During its public first-quarter earning call, 888 officials indicated plans to soon launch the WSOP brand in Pennsylvania and Michigan.

As the only operator currently to have interstate play, WSOP could expand its player pools and shared liquidity.

In addition, WSOP has a natural pathway to the Michigan market. Its parent company, Caesars, recently purchased William Hill.

Caesars Casino will eventually take over online branding for William Hill Casino in Michigan. William Hill has Michigan market access through the Grand Traverse Bay Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians.

The tribe, operators of Turtle Creek Casino and Leelanau Sands Casino near Traverse City, still can partner with an online poker operator for market access.

As for PokerStars Michigan and BetMGM Poker, those operators could benefit from interstate poker agreements soon after Michigan and/or Pennsylvania join the fray.

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Matt Schoch

A Michigan native, Matt has worked at newspapers in Michigan, Missouri and the Virgin Islands. A versatile sports reporter, Matt has covered sailing on the Great Lakes, cricket in the Caribbean, high school and pro playoffs, and the Olympics in Rio. He's also the host of the Locked On Pistons Podcast and producer of a documentary on Emoni Bates. A former blackjack dealer, Matt has studied the industry from all sides.

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