PokerStars Officially Launches in Michigan, New Era Begins for Wolverine State Poker Players

January 29, 2021
PokerStars Officially Launches in Michigan, New Era Begins for Wolverine State Poker Players

With online gaming already launching in Michigan, many players have been awaiting online poker’s arrival as well. That day came on Friday.

The Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) officially approved PokerStars to go live in the state. By 10:30 am, players could sign up for an account. The software client was expected to go live later in the day.

PokerStars partners with the Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians in the state. The company becomes the first online poker site to launch in Michigan.

MGCB approvals included FoxBet for online sports betting, also part of the Stars Group. Penn Sports/Barstool Sportsbook and Casino was also given the go-ahead to launch Feb. 1.

“We welcome the addition of Odawa Casino, Poker Stars, Fox Bet, and Barstool Casino to Michigan’s growing online gaming and sports wagering market,” MGCB executive director Richard S. Kalm said in a news release. “Their participation will generate revenue to support education, tribal communities and the city of Detroit.”  

What to expect from PokerStars in Michigan

The pace of a poker site going live has been much quicker than seen with online poker in Pennsylvania. Only days after online gaming was approved and went live in Michigan, players now have a poker option as well.

Friday’s announcement means Michigan becomes the fifth state to offer legal, regulated online poker. New Jersey, Nevada, Delaware, and Pennsylvania also offer legal online poker.

The Wolverine State is home to about 10 million people for a nice player pool. It’s now the second most populous state offering online poker behind PA.

For PokerStars, this is now the company’s third state offering online poker. The company currently has platforms in NJ and PA.

The MGCB already provisionally approved MGM/partypoker as well in December, but that platform hasn’t launched yet.

A law permitting interstate compacts for poker was recently signed in Michigan. A federal appeals court recently ruled the Wire Act only applies to sports betting. That means shared liquidity is a possibility eventually. 

But that’s not in effect yet and players will only be in a “ringed-in market” to begin. Initially,  users will only be playing others within the state.

The Michigan Gaming Control Board approved 15 online poker operators on Thursday.

Players react to PokerStars going live in state

The launch of a legal poker platform comes as welcome news to many in the state. Adam Hosmer, 38, lives in New Era, an hour north of Grand Rapids. He and his wife own a cannabis consulting firm, specializing in helping companies obtain permits and licenses.

Hosmer also likes to play poker and is happy to see a regulated option coming to his home state. He appreciates the security that comes with regulation

“It’s going to mean a lot for me personally,” he says. “It looks as if the state is really taking the regulations and site security to a level we haven’t seen in a lot of the offshore sites. Some of those offshore sites have been riddled with stories of cheating and collusion.”

Johnny Lynn, 50, lives in the Lansing area and is a retired landscaper. He’s glad to see a platform going live and is hoping for even more.

“We have limited options right now,” he says. “We need a few different sites to launch to give us some good options.”

So far, Lynn is pleased with his state taking a lead in online poker expansion. He also believes regulation is a much better option than offshore sites and helps protect players.

“The fact that we’ve had to play in unregulated markets for the last several years has been a huge issue,” Lynn says. “We have the right to play and shouldn’t have to take risks with where we play.

“I’m happy with the progress we’ve made in online poker so far, but we need to keep pushing forward.”

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