Michigan Lawmakers Consider Interstate Online Poker Ahead of iGaming Launch Michigan Lawmakers Consider Interstate Online Poker Ahead of iGaming Launch

Online poker enthusiasts in the state of Michigan will be happy to know that lawmakers in their state are considering allowing them to compete with poker players in other states after online poker goes live in the state.

A bill introduced by State Senator Curtis Hertel Jr would amend Michigan’s Lawful Internet Gaming Act and give the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) the authority to enter into agreements to allow online poker operators to share their player pools in other states with those in Michigan once the market opens later in the year.

The bill (SB 991) was originally introduced on June 25 of this year. It was then introduced to the Senate Regulatory Reform Committee where it was voted on and passed last week. The bill is now eligible for a full vote of the Senate, and if it is approved there, it will move over to the House where an affirmative vote would send it on to Governor Gretchen Whitmer to sign into law.

Unlike efforts to include interstate igaming in the Lawful Internet Gaming Act when it was crafted and passed by lawmakers and signed into law in December 2019, SB 991 would only allow multijurisdictional access to igaming for poker.

The bill restricts the ability of the MGCB to enter into compacts with other jurisdictions to those within the United States – no international agreements would be allowed – as long as doing so does not contravene state or federal law. In addition, compacts with tribal jurisdictions would be allowed if SB 991 becomes law.

Currently there is no firm date for when online poker in Michigan will premiere, but Richard S. Kalm, Executive Director of the MGCB, is hopeful that an online gaming launch in the state “can happen by late fall.”

In the meantime, the MGCB is hard at work processing applications for internet gaming and internet sports betting suppliers and vendors.

What Online Poker Rooms Will Launch in Michigan?

While the MGCB is diligently at work processing the applications from online poker providers (along with those from online casino and sports betting providers), it is only possible to speculate on which operators will be part of the launch which is expected in the final weeks of the year.

Based on a list of Supplier License Applications received by the MGCB, the most likely online poker rooms in Michigan to go live before the end of 2020 are:

Noticeably absent from that list is WSOP MI, whose parent company Caesars Interactive Entertainment (CIE) has yet to apply for a Supplier License in Michigan.

In July, the MGCB strongly encouraged those wishing to a part of the coordinated initial launch to submit their applications to the MGCB by August 14. And though it was cautioned that meeting that date would only increase the likelihood that the applicant would be a part of the launch, as of the writing of this article, CIE does not appear on the list of applicants that are pending review by the MGCB.

The only other Supplier on that list that has an online poker platform up and running in the US is Pala Interactive Inc which has a small online poker room (Pala Poker) in New Jersey. With Pala’s strong emphasis in New Jersey on its online casino and its inability to gain traction in the online poker market since its launch in 2017, it would be a surprise to see Pala Poker in Michigan any time soon.