Many experts predicted that 2023 would be the year Michigan would finally begin offering interstate online poker. Not many would have thought it was coming on January 1st, however!
PokerStars has officially become the first online poker operator in Michigan to offer a combined player pool with another US state.
The recent news was announced just before the new year on December 28th by the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB). According to the press release, approval was granted to The Stars Group (owned by Flutter Entertainment), PokerStars, and the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians to begin offering combined player pools and tournaments online with New Jersey poker players.
Seven Months Since Signing MSIGA
The announcement comes after a long wait for online poker fans.
The MGCB joined the MSIGA or Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement back in May 2022. As part of the agreement, the MGCB played a critical role in developing system requirements, conditions, and conduct of multistate operators. Operators were required to submit detailed security standards for review and inspection along with the construction of new servers for many operators. Michigan set up rigorous standards for any entity interested in offering multistate poker simply because higher security is needed to protect tournaments with more players and larger prizes.
PokerStars was the first operator to make such upgrades in Michigan and was granted the first license to begin offering interstate online poker in MI and NJ.
“Poker players in Michigan have anticipated eagerly the launch of multistate internet poker,” says MGCB executive director Henry Williams. “I congratulate the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians and TSG Poker Stars for being the first operator and provider granted permission to launch multistate internet poker in Michigan.”
Michigan’s other online poker providers, BetMGM and the World Series of Poker were not given the green light to begin interstate poker with Michigan. While BetMGM is still gaining a following in the online poker world, the WSOP is the most popular online poker brand in New Jersey. In fact, WSOP already offers interstate poker in Delaware, New Jersey, and Nevada. Despite the traction WSOP has gained, they were unable to complete the requirements to launch by January 1st. This could come to cost the online poker room, as they’re currently the most popular poker brand in New Jersey. With Michigan fans favoring the PokerStars brand, the recent merge could see PokerStars taking the cake in the battle for the #1 online poker room!
A Long Battle
Since discussion began for online poker, sports betting, and online gaming, legislators were considering multistate poker programs. Back in December 2019, when online sports wagering, casino gaming, and poker was legalized in Michigan, language allowing multijurisdictional play was omitted from the internet gaming law signed that month. It wasn’t until December 2020 when state legislators signed a bill (now PA 327 of 2020) allowing multijurisdictional play and giving the MGCB the ability to join a multistate poker compact.
Since signing that bill into law and joining the MSIGA, Michigan’s reason for entering the multistate poker market remains largely the same.
Senator Hertel (D-East Lansing) said when sponsoring the bill, “Michigan poker players will enjoy more options and will likely play for bigger money when they can compete against players from other states.”
Put more eloquently, an online multistate poker agreement would increase player pools and tournament prizes, leading to more tax revenue for Michigan’s public education system.
MGCB Executive Director believes, “By joining, Michigan will almost double the potential pool of participants in multistate poker games.”
PokerStars hosted an online tournament to celebrate the news and complement the current PSPC PCA Adventure in the Caribbean taking place this January. The online series dubbed “PSPC” ran from Friday, January 13th – January 30th and featured a $250 buy-in main event with a $300K guarantee.
Mac Daniel is a Michigan native and freelance writer for PlayOnlineCasino and PlayOnlineSportsBetting. He has experience writing about a wide variety of topics, including healthcare, tourism, non-profit organizations, and most recently casino and sportsbetting news. To check out more of his work, visit: playonlinemichigan.com