Between now and year’s end, we’re hoping to be in, I want to carefully say, three additional states888 Holdings’ Senior Vice President and Head of US Yaniv Sherman said he believes the 888/WSOP network will expand into a third state—after Pennsylvania and Michigan—by year’s end.
Considering the current landscape, the third state is likely to be West Virginia.
The words come in an exclusive interview with Poker Industry PRO set to be published in the coming days. Sherman discussed a wide range of topics, including the gaming giant’s recent partnership with the parent company of Sports Illustrated to offer SI-branded sports betting and iGaming products in the US.
Eyes on West Virginia
While online poker has been legal in West Virginia since 2019, there are no operators in the state because its small population makes it an unattractive market for poker. One workaround would be for West Virginia to either join or form an interstate compact like the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement (MSIGA), which currently includes Delaware, Nevada and New Jersey.
In a separate exclusive, West Virginia regulators recently told pokerfuse the state was interested in joining a compact. Michigan and Pennsylvania have also been weighing their options, with AGs from both states signing onto a letter asking the DOJ to clarify its position on the federal Wire Act.
But being more ambitious than that, [we want] to get in as many states as possible, especially with Poker 8.Sherman said 888 is “hoping that Pennsylvania and Michigan join the existing compact sometime in the near term. We’re looking to launch that five- or six-state interstate poker liquidity network that we all think will be a milestone in US gaming.”
“Between now and year’s end, we’re hoping to be in, I want to carefully say, three additional states,” he went on to say. “But being more ambitious than that, [we want] to get in as many states as possible, especially with Poker 8.”
With the imminent launch of the WSOP PA and WSOP MI poker rooms, it is safe to say that Michigan and Pennsylvania, coupled with Delaware, Nevada and New Jersey, would complete the “five-state compact” suggested by Sherman.
A decision by Michigan, Pennsylvania or both states to join MSIGA would be a huge boost to the interstate 888/WSOP network, the only one of its kind operating in the US.
Sherman offered a clue into what would be the sixth member of a six-state compact. He lauded states for moving forward “with Michigan, Pennsylvania and West Virginia” on building online poker industries in their states. “If you’re doing it around poker, you need to get off the ground with this share of liquidity.”
Connecticut Another Possibility
The executive added that 888 is interested in expanding into Connecticut at some point, either through its WSOP partner, its own brand or through a partnership with one of the state’s two tribes.
Under the new online gaming regimen that took effect this month in Connecticut, the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes maintained sole rights to offering online poker and casino gambling in the state and will also offer online sports betting. The law also authorizes the Connecticut Lottery Corporation to provide online sports betting.
But the law also requires changes to existing compacts between Connecticut and the two tribes, and those changes must then be approved by the US Department of Interior (DOI).
Sherman said that once 888 moves its customers in Delaware, Nevada and New Jersey to the new Poker 8 software, “any state, whether it’s Connecticut or West Virginia, that already offers poker licenses…and will be looking to proactively promote [online poker], will have a ready-made liquidity pool [and a] regulatory framework.”
PRO’s full interview with 888 Holdings’ Senior Vice President and Head of US, Yaniv Sherman, where a range of topics on the operator’s strategy for online poker, casino and sports in the United States, will be published exclusively for subscribers in the coming days.