888 Holdings conference call announces intentions to launch in both states in the first half of 2021
With the biggest online schedule in World Series of Poker history just weeks away, the potential player pool for the U.S. side of the 2021 WSOP Online might include two new states.
888 Holdings, technology partner to WSOP.com in the U.S., discussed their plans for upcoming U.S. launches in the company’s latest conference call with investors. The call revealed plans for the company to launch 888poker/WSOP.com online poker sites in both Pennsylvania and Michigan by the halfway point of the year.
Pokerfuse broke the story Friday morning, based on information obtained from a Q1 2021 earnings call between 888 Holdings and investors.
Outlook for WSOP.com to expand its interstate poker network
U.S. players currently have access to only one regulated interstate online poker network. The All-American Poker Network (AAPN) allows players on WSOP Nevada, WSOP New Jersey, and the 888poker Delaware to compete against each other.
Online bracelet events at each year’s WSOP are open to players on WSOP.com in Nevada and New Jersey. The launch of WSOP/888 platforms in Michigan and Pennsylvania could invite players in those states to participate in the 2021 WSOP Online.
Potential WSOP Michigan and WSOP Pennsylvania poker sites wouldn’t automatically join the AAPN, however, as a few legal pieces would have to fall into place in both states.
Michigan passed a multijurisdictional online poker bill in January, which allows regulated online poker operators in the state to join out-of-state U.S. networks if they wish. BetMGM Poker (powered by partypoker) and PokerStars Michigan currently operate in the Great Lakes State, but neither has merged player networks with other states as of yet.
888/WSOP currently doesn’t have an announced land-based casino license partner in place for a Michigan launch. Michigan gaming laws require all online poker, casino, or sports betting operators to conduct business under licensing agreements with state commercial and tribal casinos.
The legal framework is there for a potential WSOP Michigan addition to the AAPN, but 888/WSOP would have to come to an agreement with a Michigan casino for that to happen.
The opposite situation comes forth from Pennsylvania. An 888/WSOP online poker site is expected to launch soon in the Keystone State, as 888/WSOP has a license partnership in place with Harrah’s Philadelphia.
Pennsylvania lawmakers would have to pass an interstate online poker bill, however, before WSOP.com Pennsylvania could merge with the rest of the WSOP sites in the AAPN.
The Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement
New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware operate in a pact known as the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement (MSIGA). The MSIGA allows regulated online poker sites in those states to share player pools with other states in the network.
If Michigan joins the MSIGA, the state’s poker sites would have the final green light to merge with player networks in other MSIGA states. That could lead to a merged PokerStars network (Michigan and New Jersey) and separate partypoker network (Michigan and New Jersey).
If 888/WSOP lands a casino partner in Michigan, it seems natural that the WSOP Michigan site would join the AAPN.
Pennsylvania, on the other hand, would have to pass its own multijurisdictional online poker bill before it could join the MSIGA. From there, the state would have to enter the MSIGA in order for WSOP Pennsylvania to join the AAPN.
The U.S. side of the 2021 WSOP Online series runs July 1 through August 1. For Michigan and Pennsylvania players to get a shot at this year’s online bracelets, the legal dominoes would have to fall before July 1.
Featured image source: Twitter