Today, the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) officially authorized PokerStars to become the first Michigan online poker room in the state. PokerStars MI is cleared to officially launch at 11 am local time on January 29, 2021, according to a press release issued by the MGCB.
Following the launch of online gaming in Michigan just a week ago, the MGCB has continued to approve additional online gaming operators and their corresponding land-based casino partners to offer online gaming in the state.
In addition to PokerStars Michigan, Stars Casino and FOX Bet have also been authorized to begin offering real money online gaming and betting in Michigan in partnership with the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians Gaming Authority (“Odawa”).
Barstool Sportsbook & Casino is also approved to begin offering online gaming in conjunction with its partners Penn Sports Interactive and Greektown Casino. Barstool Sportsbook was previously authorized to begin offering online sports wagers when the Michigan igaming market went live on January 22.
“We welcome the addition of Odawa Casino, Poker Stars, Fox Bet and Barstool Casino to Michigan’s growing online gaming and sports wagering market,” said Richard S. Kalm, MGCB executive director. “Their participation will generate revenue to support education, tribal communities and the city of Detroit.”
Knowing the importance of shared liquidity for online poker, the MGCB also addressed the issue of when interstate online poker will come to Michigan by stating: “A law permitting multijurisdictional poker recently was signed in Michigan, but is not yet in effect and cannot begin until agreements are negotiated with other states.”
“Behind FOX Bet Sportsbook, PokerStars and Stars Casino, customers create one account for all three apps, unlocking a wide variety of exciting and entertaining options to supercharge the experience for our Michigan audience,” said Kip Levin, FOX Bet CEO.
PokerStars US Online Poker Offerings Expanding
The launch of PokerStars MI today marks the third US state in which the PokerStars brand is available for online poker.
PokerStars first launched legal regulated real money online poker in New Jersey in March 2016, joining partypoker NJ and WSOP NJ which were among the first online poker rooms to launch in the state back in November 2013.
PokerStars NJ remained the only US online poker presence for the company until PokerStars became the first online poker room in Pennsylvania in November 2019. More than a year after its launch, PokerStars PA remains the only online poker provider in Pennsylvania.
Interstate Online Poker Still on Hold for Now
Though for the first time in a long while online poker is trending upward in the US, the landscape for internet poker in the US is expected to undergo even more positive change in the near future when interstate online poker expands.
Currently, only one online poker network in the country offers players the ability to play with and against players in other states. That network is the All American Poker Network (AAPN) comprising of WSOP.com in Nevada and New Jersey, 888poker in New Jersey and three racino-branded online poker rooms in Delaware.
An effort to reinterpret the 1961 Wire Act in a way that would prohibit interstate online poker reached its likely conclusion earlier this month when the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit affirmed the 2019 decision of District Court Judge Paul Barbadoro that the scope of the Wire Act is limited to sports betting.
The ruling is expected to clear the way for Pennsylvania to allow its online poker operators to combine their player pools with their operations in other states. And though right now only PokerStars is operational for online poker in Pennsylvania, the ruling is expected to incentivize the launch of the partypoker US Network (comprised of BetMGM, partypoker PA and Borgata Poker) and WSOP PA on the AAPN, as both networks have already been licensed but have not yet launched in the state.
The clarity on the Wire Act could also result in the launch of online poker in West Virginia where the games are legally authorized but no online poker room has launched because of the limited opportunity in a state so small.
And of course, interstate online poker is also expected in Michigan. Last month, lawmakers in the state approved an amendment to its online gaming laws which give the MGCB the authority to enter into agreements with other states for the purpose of allowing interstate online poker.
Michigan regulators are already in discussions with other states, and online poker liquidity sharing is expected to become a reality in the Wolverine State later this year.