Online Poker Situation Remains Fluid In Michigan With No Launch Timeline

Online poker aficionados in Michigan are still waiting for a seat at the table.

While regulated online poker was legalized in the big gambling bill signed into law in 2019, and while it has been OK for state gaming regulators to allow operators to offer online poker since online gaming kicked off last Friday, and while Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed the multi-state iPoker bill in early January … well, would-be players are still sitting with a 7-2 unsuited.

The reason?

“No authorized providers have requested intra-state, peer-to-peer poker,” Mary Kay Bean, the spokesperson for the Michigan Gambling Control Board, said Tuesday.

PokerStars, a leading poker site in the nascent U.S. regulated online poker industry, is expected to be involved in the near future. Other products from the likes of MGM and Caesars are expected to at some point launch in the Wolverine State.

Just weeks ago, the MGCB reportedly indicated that online poker could launch about a week after the online casinos and online sportsbooks. It’s unclear if that will come to fruition, but the situation remains fluid and an announcement of an online poker launch date could come conceivably come any day.

It is possible, however, that it could take weeks or months for online poker in Michigan to begin.

Interstate poker still months away, at least

Despite Whitmer signing the bill allowing for interstate poker on Dec. 29, the earliest the state could be involved with “multijurisdictional” poker would be 90 days past the signing of the bill into law. That would make Monday, March 29 the first day Michigan residents could theoretically play online poker with players in other states where it’s legal.

Online poker isn’t a very popular vertical when it’s ring-fenced to a relatively small player pool, so Michigan poker sites in the pipeline might not be in a hurry to launch just yet.

Online poker compacts do take time to hash out, so it is very possible Michigan won’t have online poker liquidity sharing this year. It appears the legal saga pertaining to the 1961 Wire Act is about over, which is good news for online poker states looking to share players. This could accelerate the process of multi-state iPoker deals, as states would no longer be worried about breaking federal law.

Only five other states have legalized online poker, and only three of them — New Jersey, Delaware, and Nevada — have so far entered into a shared liquidity agreement.

“It will depend on both the operators’ wishes to offer and the negotiation of a multi-state poker agreement,” Bean said. “Our focus now is on launching the remaining [online sportsbook and casino] operators and platform provider partners.”

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