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With the launch of iGaming on the horizon in Michigan, we take a look at which online poker rooms are expected to launch once the market goes live later this year.

In July, the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) issued a notice to potential applicants interested in participating in internet gaming to submit their applications to the board with a deadline of August 14.

Close to 50 applications were sent to the the MGCB, a majority of them showing interest in both internet gaming (poker and casino) and internet sports betting.

While submitting an application on time does not guarantee a timeline for launch, it does increase the likelihood that the applicant will be a part of the coordinated initial launch.

PokerStars MI and partypoker MI are the Main Contenders for the First Wave of Online Poker in Michigan

Not surprisingly, TSG Interactive US Services Limited, the arm of the The Stars Group that manages the PokerStars US operations, and BetMGM LLC, in conjunction with Roar Digital, the company that operates the partypoker US Network, are the standouts as the highest-profile online poker providers on the list of those suppliers that have submitted their pplication to the MGCB.

Both of these operators have already formed partnerships with the state’s land-based casinos and tribal casinos as required by the laws just like in other states.

The Stars Group secured a partnership with the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians Gaming Authority, gaining first skin market access for real-money online poker, casino games and sports betting in Michigan.

As stated earlier, partypoker’s parent company (GVC) has a partnership with MGM Resorts which owns the MGM Grand Detroit.

When online poker goes live in Michigan, expect both PokerStars MI and partypoker MI as the prime candidates for online poker rooms in the state.

WSOP and 888 Missing from the Suppliers License List

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

WSOP.com currently operates in New Jersey and Nevada where it is the largest network operating on the All American Poker Network AAPN and sharing its player pool with 888.

So, the decision by 888 to not submit a application as an online poker supplier in Michigan combined with CIE not aggressively moving to have WSOP MI included as part of the initial launch is surprising, to say the least.

888 was recently approved by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) as an Interactive Gaming Manufacturer during the most recent meeting of the board, so it does show that the operator is committed to expanding in the US but just like the WSOP it is playing the waiting game.

It is possible that the companies may be waiting for cross-border liquidity sharing to be permitted once the Wire Act case is settled, and they may eventually go live in 2021.

Other Operators that Could Launch Online Poker in Michigan

Apart from TSG and BetMGM, the only other supplier on that list that has an online poker platform up and running in the US is Pala Interactive Inc. Although Pala is mostly known for its online casino, it does offer a small online poker room (Pala Poker) in New Jersey.

However, it is unlikely to launch an online poker room in Michigan any time soon unless the state allows shared liquidity which might make it lucrative as it already operates in New Jersey.

Other suppliers that have submitted their applications include Rush Street Interactive which has reportedly shown some interest in launching online poker in Pennsylvania. Betfair Interactive US LLC, Parx Interactive Inc , and IGT are also among the list of those that has submitted a Supplier License Application for Interactive Gaming.

Michigan Notable iGaming Supplier License Applicants

Notable Supplier License Applicants Online Operator Type of License Expected to Launch Online Poker in MI?
TSG Interactive US Services Limited PokerStars Internet Gaming and Internet Sports Betting Yes
BETMGM, LLC (Roar Digital) Partypoker Internet Gaming and Internet Sports Betting Yes
American Wagering Inc. William Hill Internet Gaming and Internet Sports Betting No
Betfair Interactive US LLC (FanDuel) Betfair Internet Gaming and Internet Sports Betting No
Crown MI Gaming, LLC DraftKings Internet Gaming and Internet Sports Betting No
GAN Nevada Inc. B2B Internet Gaming and Internet Sports Betting No
IGT B2B Internet Gaming and Internet Sports Betting No
Pala Interactive LLC Pala Poker Internet Gaming and Internet Sports Betting Maybe
Parx Interactive Inc Internet Gaming and Internet Sports Betting No
Rush Street Interactive MI, LLC Play Sugar House Internet Gaming and Internet Sports Betting Maybe

Notable Supplier Applicants Missing

888 Atlantic USA 888poker
Caesars Interactive Entertainment (CIE) WSOP.com

When is Online Poker Expected to go Live in Michigan?

While the MGCB is hopeful that online gaming will be live in the state “by late fall,” online poker is likely to take a back seat to the other gaming verticals such as online sports betting and online casino.

Pennsylvania, which was the latest US state to launch igaming, rolled out online sports betting and online casino first, and online poker lagged by more than three months. Compared with other gaming verticals, online poker software is more complex and requires additional testing and regulatory oversight. Also, the fact, that online casino games generally produce more revenue than online poker likely makes it a priority for both operators and state regulators.

However, it is still possible that online poker could be up and running in Michigan before the end of this year, but early 2021 looks more realistic.