Interstate poker bill still waiting for approval from Michigan House of Representatives

Geoff Fisk
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Posted on: October 22, 2020 9:10 pm EDT

Bill to legalize regulated interstate poker must pass through House before going to Governor’s desk

A bill that would allow Michigan to enter a multi-state online poker compact made it through the State Senate but still must get through another vote in the Michigan House of Representatives before it can go into law.

Senate Bill 991 would amend the Michigan Lawful Internet Gaming Act, allowing regulated online poker operators in Michigan to enter into multi-state agreements. The bill made it through the Michigan Senate by an overwhelming margin, with an Oct. 1 vote going 389-36 in favor of the bill.

Two more steps remain for the potential Michigan interstate online poker legislation to officially go into law. The first of those steps is a vote in the Michigan House of Representatives.

A pair of House sessions (Oct. 13 and 21) passed this month without a vote on SB 991. The House will convene 13 more times before the end of 2020.

If SB 991 doesn’t go to vote by the end of 2020, or if the House votes against its passage, the bill is scrapped. Lawmakers advocating for Michigan’s entrance into an interstate online poker agreement would have to start the process all over again with a new bill in 2021.

In the case that SB 991 does pass through the House, however, the bill would then go to Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, who would then have the option to either sign or veto the bill.

Implications of interstate online poker in Michigan

Online poker, along with online casino gaming and sports betting, was legalized in December 2019 in Michigan. The first online gaming products could launch in the state by the end of 2020.

Both PokerStars and partypoker have tie-ins to Michigan’s upcoming iGaming launch, and a Michigan version of both platforms will likely launch at some point.

Roar Digital, the parent company to partypoker US, will launch online gaming products under the license of MGM Grand Detroit. The Stars Group, the parent company to PokerStars, has an agreement in place to offer iGaming in partnership with Odawa Casino Resort, one of Michigan’s tribal casinos.

Partypoker’s U.S. operation currently only includes a New Jersey-only partypoker client. That platform was known as partypoker NJ for most of its existence since launching in November 2013.

The formerly-known partypoker NJ rebranded as the partypoker US Network earlier this year.

Earlier this year, however, that platform was rebranded as the partypoker US Network. That renaming could be an indication of partypoker’s plans to expand into an interstate poker network.

The partypoker US Network could also include Pennsylvania at some point, as the brand is expected to expand into the Keystone State within the next year. Pennsylvania would have to pass a law giving the green light to interstate poker however, similar to what Michigan lawmakers are trying to do with SB 991.

PokerStars currently operates separate online platforms in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The passage of SB 991 could allow PokerStars NJ to share player liquidity with PokerStars MI, as New Jersey law does allow for interstate online poker.

The only currently existing multi-state online poker network in the U.S. operates through the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement (MSIGA). That network includes WSOP Nevada, WSOP New Jersey, 888poker New Jersey, and 888poker’s network of Delaware online poker skins (Delaware Park, Dover Downs, Harrington Casino & Raceway).

Featured image source: Flickr/Noe Alfaro