Michigan Ready to Legalize Interstate Online Poker
When online gambling passed in Michigan, interstate online poker was conspicuously absent from the bill. Legislators have now corrected that error. Last week, news broke that the Michigan legislature has passed a bill that will cleanup the law creating legal online casinos in the state.
The bill includes the addition of interstate online poker. What might interstate online poker look like in Michigan, and how soon can we expect it. We take a look at both questions.
SB 991 Heads to Governor’s Desk
Last week, the Michigan state legislature passed SB 991. The bill was filed as a way to add interstate online poker to legal online gambling. When online gambling was passed, interstate gambling was not included in the measure.
Presently, there is only one interstate network in the United States. The interstate online poker network presently consists of Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware. The network is facilitated by 888 Holdings with WSOP.com the site used in Nevada and New Jersey.
SB 991 will allow state casinos and tribal casinos to enter into interstate compacts to form international networks. The bill acknowledges that overall gaming revenue will only see a slight increase due to this move. However, this could change in the future as more states legalize online poker and form networks.
The bill is now on the desk of Governor Gretchen Whitmer and is awaiting signature. It was delivered on the 22nd and still remains unsigned. There’s little reason to believe she will not sign the bill.
What Networks Could We See In Michigan?
We predict that players will eventually see up to three networks in Michigan. The first will be the 888 Holdings network facilitated through WSOP.com. That is the primary iPoker network and the one that’s the easiest to join.
The next network we expect to see is a PokerStars network. PokerStars does not presently offer interstate online poker, but after the eventual launch in Michigan, the online poker site will be active in at least three states. The site presently operates in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. It is expected that the site will eventually launch in West Virginia, perhaps as early as Summer 2021.
The final potential network would be through partypoker. Partypoker currently operates in New Jersey but is expected to expand to PA, WV, and Michigan in the future. Should they expand, expect an interstate network to follow.
When Will Interstate Online Poker Be Available
Once the bill is signed, the question remains as to when an interstate network will launch. The answer to that is a bit tricky. For starters, sites still have to launch in Michigan, and it is unknown when PokerStars will launch. Other sites are not expected to launch until later, so it could be as late as Q4 2021 before we see multiple sites launched, if then.
Next, there’s the question of the status of the federal Wire Act. The US Court of Appeals has yet to rule on the lawsuit surrounding the Wire Act. The death of a judge clouds whether we will get a verdict or if another trial will happen.
Regardless, we won’t know anything until President-elect Joe Biden is installed into office. That means we won’t have an answer until at least February. As such, we expect PA to hold off on any movement on interstate online poker until later this year.
Ultimately, we predict that Michigan will not see interstate online poker until sometime in 2022. There’s just too much that needs to happen for it to launch this year. For now, the state will have to settle for legal online gambling which should be coming anytime now.