Michigan Gaming Leader Offers Insight About Online Poker Interstate Compact Talks; Connecticut Close to Legalization

May 25, 2021
Michigan Gaming Leader Offers Insight About Online Poker Interstate Compact Talks; Connecticut Close to Legalization

With US online poker seeing momentum recently, players got a bit of insight on possible interstate compacts last week. The new executive director of the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) said the state is in talks to join other states for online gaming.

That could include agreements reached this year after a federal appeals court ruling on the Wire Act earlier this year. The decision paved the way for interstate agreements regarding online gaming, including poker.

New MGCB executive director Henry Williams expected his state to reach deals with others in 2021.

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“I expect a multi-state poker agreement to be signed,” Henry Williams stated. “The agency has been in discussions with other states and hopes to announce an agreement later this year.”

Former MGCB executive director Richard Kalm announced his resignation in April after 14 years. Williams served as the former deputy director for the agency’s casino operations division. The new director offered some comments about online poker to OPR.

Moving closer to multi-state agreements

A possible interstate compact should be good news to US online poker players. At the same time other states are also considering legalization.

“MGCB representatives continue to meet with representatives from other states regarding multistate poker,” Williams told OPR. “The Michigan statute allows the agency to enter into multi-state poker compacts, but the other states have to agree.

“Further, poker providers actually have to offer the product. As of today, only one provider offers multi-state poker.”

That would be WSOP.com/888poker through the All-American Poker Network. That shared liquidity includes Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware.

News from recent months has included online poker in Michigan going live with PokerStars and partypoker US Network’s BetMGM skin. After over a year with PokerStars as the only real money poker site in Pennsylvania, party also launched there in April with the BetMGM and Borgata Poker skins.

Both operators are now in place in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. Any interstate agreements could pave the way for lower population states like West Virginia. Online poker is legal in WV, but an operator has yet to launch there.

These plans could make player and prize pools much bigger. New states considering legalization, such as Connecticut and Illinois, could add to that significantly.

Connecticut closing in on legalization

In regards to legalization, Connecticut came one step closer to legalized online poker last week. The state’s house of representatives approved a bill authorizing online gaming including poker, casino, and sports betting.

The bill passed easily along bipartisan lines. It allows the state’s two casinos, Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun, to offer online casino games and sports betting. The state lottery could also offer sports wagering as well.

The state senate is expected to approve the legislation on Tuesday before heading to the governor’s desk. Gov. Ned Lamont (D) is expected to sign the bill.

“I look forward to this measure’s swift passage in the Senate, so we can start the federal process of ensuring this legislation and agreement is authorized,” Gov. Ned Lamont (D) told the Connecticut Mirror.

That would make Connecticut the sixth state to legalize online poker along with:

  • New Jersey
  • Pennsylvania
  • Nevada
  • Delaware
  • Michigan
  • West Virginia (no operators have launched)

A timetable hasn’t been offered on when gaming and poker would debut online in the state. Connecticut has only 3.6 million, so an interstate compact might be necessary for a successful market. However, Nevada has fewer people and hosts WSOP.com in the state.

Illinois still working toward regulated online poker, gaming

Online gaming has also seen broad support in Illinois so far. But passing bills through state governments is always a tenuous proposition. However, legislators generally seemed receptive during a House Executive Committee meeting in April.

The Internet Gaming Act would legalize online casino gaming and real money online poker in Illinois. Online sports wagering is already legal.

Gaming industry consultant John A. Pappas estimates the industry could produce $1 billion in revenue over the first five years.

“We know a good bill when we see it,” Pappas told the committee.

While there seems to be support so far, Illinois online gaming legislation isn’t as far along as in Connecticut. The state’s entrance into any potential online poker compact would be a nice addition.  

Illinois brings a population of 12.7 million to the US online poker market. That would make it the second-largest state with legalized online poker, just behind Pennsylvania.

Bill co-sponsor Jonathan Carroll told USPoker in February: “I believe this will be huge for us and people will enjoy the experience.”

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