Details emerged this week that may bring some good news for online poker players in Michigan. WSOP.com is expected to launch on Monday, according to Online Poker Report (OPR).
Additionally, it looks as if an interstate compact may be in the pipeline as well, linking the state’s players to others around the country. That would be a major step for the US regulated market and is expected to bring major prize and player pools for poker sites.
Michigan gaining WSOP.com option
Like most states in the US, Michigan currently operates as a “fenced-in” online poker market. Online poker players only compete with others within the state. Along with the Wolverine State, online poker is currently legal in
- New Jersey
West Virginia and Connecticut have also legalized online poker, but have yet to see any operators launch in the state. Michigan players can currently play on PokerStars and Partypoker US Network (via the BetMGM skin). WSOP.com now becomes another option in the state.
“A representative of WSOP’s parent company Caesars informed PlayMichigan and Online Poker Report today of its intention to go live with the new site at 10 a.m. Eastern, on Monday, March 28,” OPR noted on Thursday.
This gives players in the state the ability to play in major WSOP online series. That may include online WSOP Circuit series as well as possibly playing in online bracelet events.
WSOP.com operates the only shared liquidity network in the country with the All-American Poker Network. That includes Nevada and New Jersey as well as 888poker in Delaware.
In Pennsylvania, the site also operates as a fenced-in platform. However, the WSOP also offers online circuit ring and bracelet events for players in the Keystone State market
It seems likely those types of events will also be available for players in Michigan. The Michigan WSOP platform kicks off with a weekly $100 Sunday tournament offering a guarantee of $50,000. However, even bigger developments could be in the works for Michigan and other legalized markets.
Interstate compacts in the works?
The addition of interstate compacts appeared to take a step closer this week. The Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) released guidelines recently for entering into a compact.
The document outlines the state’s online gaming legislation allows companies “to enter into multi-jurisdictional agreements with other jurisdictions to facilitate, administer, and regulate multi-state internet poker.”
The guidelines offer some hope that the Michigan market is getting close to expanding.
In the five-page document, the MGCB notes that only poker will be allowed in the multi-state agreements. All compacts must only include players within the US however.
“This document is meant to provide guidance regarding tasks an operator or platform provider may need to complete and other items an operator or platform provider may need to consider before the board will authorize the commencement of multi-state poker,” the plan says.
“The extent to which these tasks and considerations will apply, if at all, will depend on the nature of each operator’s or platform provider’s multi-state poker operation.”
Considerations for expanded interstate compacts
Beyond some basic rules regarding interstate compacts, the MGCB also laid out caveats operators must meet to be part of a Michigan compact. Those include:
- Operators not currently offering poker in Michigan may decide to launch multi-state poker. This can come via:
- Partnership with a new platform.
- A new platform provided by an operator’s existing platform.
- A new game or remote gaming system (RGS) added to an existing platform.
- Operators (platforms) currently offering poker may introduce a new platform in Michigan to support multi-state poker. The operator may migrate its entire poker operation to a platform located in another state (such as New Jersey).
- Operators may continue to utilize their current platforms while connecting to those in other states via a remote gaming system (located in Michigan or another state).
- Operators may submit new game software or may conduct multi-state poker using game software already approved by the board.
More in coming weeks?
Those offer wide-ranging options for online poker companies hoping to include Michigan in interconnected networks. Partypoker and PokerStars both operate in New Jersey, which could expand those networks.
There has been no word from Pennsylvania yet regarding interstate compacts. As USPoker noted earlier this year, adding that state as well Michigan, Nevada, Connecticut, and West Virginia offers a significant gain for the industry.
Currently regulated markets grouped together could reach a potential population of almost 42 million. That has potential to put the US market into the top 10 in terms of traffic, according to figures at PokerScout.
The Michigan plan outlines other details regarding operator needs for launching an interstate network.
There’s still no date on when any interstate compacts may launch. However, there appears to be good news possibly on the horizon. This may be the year when pool player pools and online poker expansion in the US finally gain further traction.
“I think there is an enormous potential for US online poker,” four-time World Poker Tour champion and partypoker US/BetMGM ambassador Darren Elias told USPoker earlier this year. “Players are eager to get online and play again in safe, regulated markets, but we are still limited by ring-fenced legislation for now. As more states are approved and interstate compacts are eventually made, the player pool will grow rapidly.”
That’s certainly something many players are hoping for.