Boom or bust? Predicting the impact of Michigan’s regulated poker sites

Geoff Fisk
Published by:
Posted on 01/13/2021

Online gaming to launch in Michigan by the end of the month

Michigan enters the U.S. legal online gambling market this month, with state gaming regulators pushing for the kickoff of regulated iGaming products as early as next week.

The launch will make Michigan the 15th U.S. state to legalize online sports betting. Online casinos and online poker haven’t spread through the U.S. regulated market like sports wagering, however, as Michigan is set to become one of just six states allowing legal online poker.

A state-regulated option could prove to be a hit among Michigan poker players. Michigan’s ample live poker scene grinded to a halt when COVID-19 emergency orders shut down state casinos in March.

Casinos have the green light to run at 15% capacity, but live poker rooms around the state remain shut down. The state’s stance on live poker rooms reopening takes the social nature of the game into consideration, and it might be quite a while before Michigan players can find a live game.

Online poker will likely lag behind the launch of mobile sports betting and casino gaming in Michigan. Poker should launch sometime in 2021, however, and the Michigan market presents an interesting case for regulated online poker in the U.S.

What will the market look like for Michigan online poker?

Two of the world’s biggest online poker operators are approved to launch in Michigan at some point. Partypoker US Network parent company Roar Digital will operate iGaming products under the license of MGM Grand Detroit, and those offerings will likely include a partypoker Michigan platform at some point.

PokerStars’ parent company, The Stars Group, has an agreement in place to launch online gaming products as a license partner to Odawa Casino, one of Michigan’s tribal properties. A PokerStars Michigan platform would add a third state to PokerStars’ U.S. operations.

Boom or bust? Predicting the impact of Michigan's regulated poker sites
Partypoker renamed its New Jersey sites as the “partypoker US Network” last January. (Image source: Twitter)

Partypoker already operates in New Jersey and will expand into Pennsylvania and Michigan soon. PokerStars’ Michigan platform will add to a portfolio that also includes Pennsylvania and New Jersey in the U.S.

Both companies currently operate all these sites as in-state only platforms. Some signs point to a positive future for the prospects of Michigan offering interstate poker competition.

Michigan lawmakers signed off on an interstate gambling bill that opens the door for the state’s poker sites to enter into multi-state agreements. WSOP Nevada, WSOP New Jersey, and the 888poker Delaware network share player pools through the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement (MSIGA).

That agreement allows Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware poker operators to share player liquidity. Entering into that agreement could allow both partypoker and PokerStars to link their upcoming Michigan sites to their New Jersey platforms.

In a move that could predict the future of interstate poker in Michigan, partypoker New Jersey rebranded as the partypoker US Network last January. The network still only offers online poker to New Jersey players for now, but the name change seems to point to bigger plans for partypoker’s U.S. ventures.

Interstate poker offers the only chance for regulated U.S. sites to truly thrive. The nature of online poker requires large player pools to prop up both the cash game and tournament economy.

Michigan’s interstate poker bill offers hope on that front, and the Wolverine State could boost the legal U.S. online poker industry to new heights.

Featured image source: Flickr/Noe Alfaro