Michigan Senate to Consider Interstate Online Poker
We already know that Michigan is steadily marching forward toward its launch of online casino gambling and online poker. However, it now appears that the state may be the latest to offer interstate online poker.
There is a bill presently making its way through the Michigan legislature to allow the state to enter into interstate compacts for online poker. The bill is now being considered by the State Senate and has an excellent chance to move to the House for eventual passage.
SB 991 Reaches Senate
If you haven’t heard of SB 991, that’s because it hasn’t garnered much attention. Most online gambling sites are focusing on the initial launch of online poker and online gambling. The new bill is a slight modification of the Lawful Internet Gaming Act. It will allow the state to enter into online poker compacts with other states offering legal online poker.
Presently, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, and West Virginia have legalized online poker. West Virginia has yet to launch games. Currently, the interstate online poker market consists of New Jersey, Delaware, and Nevada. Pennsylvania is not presently allowing interstate poker because of concerns over the Federal Wire Act.
On Tuesday, Michigan’s Senate Regulatory Reform Committee held a meeting, and SB 991 was one of the bills discussed. The bill’s sponsor, Senator Curtis Hertel Jr, said that the legislation was needed to make online poker interesting for Michigan citizens. Otherwise, the sites will be limited to just those physically in Michigan, making the sites less viable.
The Committee meeting went well, and now the bill will move on to the Senate floor for a vote. If successful, the process will start again over in the House.
Hertel Likes the Bill’s Chances
Hertel expects that SB 991 will go to a vote, at least in the Senate. He also appears to like the chances of the bill in the House. There have been few objections to the bill to this point, so it is likely to get a decent look in both chambers.
The question is whether lawmakers will see the value in allowing interstate online poker. Presently, there’s only one interstate poker network. WSOP.com effectively combines player pools from NV, DE, and NJ. This summer, the site held the World Series of Poker Online, allowing players to win WSOP bracelets from their computers. One player won a bracelet in the parking lot of Whole Foods in New Jersey.
Interstate Poker Should Be More Robust in Coming Years
Allowing a path to interstate online poker will be vital to growing online gambling markets in the United States. Nevada proved early on that it is difficult for smaller states to support more than one online poker site. The state started with two primary brands with Ultimate Poker closing down about a year after its launch.
The future for interstate poker is bright, especially now that PokerStars has expanded beyond New Jersey. They are presently in Pennsylvania and are expected to launch in West Virginia and Michigan at some point soon. This will make a second viable option for an interstate network. Over time, expect partypoker to expand into multiple states, giving another reliable online poker option for interstate poker.
Interstate poker increases the liquidity of online poker sites as it gives players an incentive to play. Would you rather play at a site with tournaments averaging 50 players or one averaging 300 players? Obviously, you want the site with larger fields, which means larger prizes. This also means more rake for online poker sites, which leads to more tax revenue for the state.
Fortunately, there’s nothing overly controversial about interstate online poker. The only potential hitch is if the government wins its appeal in the Wire Act case. However, that is increasingly unlikely. Interstate poker seems an obvious win-win scenario for Michigan, and we expect the bill to move to the Governor’s desk before the end of 2020.