In what could open the floodgates for interstate poker agreements in the US, Michigan has been approved by the existing members of the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement (MSIGA) and will become the fourth state to join such a pact.
The latest development was revealed by the existing member states of the MSIGA in a joint press release published on Wednesday afternoon.
This should pave the way for MI online poker operators to combine their player pools with states that are also part of the agreement — namely New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware.
Shared liquidity is paramount to the growth of online poker and this is a huge step in the right direction. This was a long time coming. Indeed, MI Gaming Review — along with pokerfuse — has been tracking Michigan’s entry into the MSIGA for over a year. Its efforts were recently doubled after MI Gaming Review reported back in February that the state had proposed some “suggested changes” to the multi-state compact.
Then, recently, the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) sent an email to Michigan’s licensed poker operators outlining the potential tasks and considerations that operators and platform providers need to take before the state officially authorized multistate poker — a clear sign that the state intended to join the gaming compact.
In late March, the Nevada regulator admitted to pokerfuse that Michigan’s bid to join the compact was “still under review” and MGCB said it hoped to be accepted “soon.”
And that day has finally come. Michigan now joins Nevada, Delaware, and New Jersey in forming a poker compact.
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Opens Gate to Multiple Inter-State US Online Poker Networks
Currently, WSOP is running the only multi-state poker network in the US, spanning NJ, NV, and DE. WSOP recently launched its operations in Michigan, and is also active in Pennsylvania, but both are discrete platforms, separate from its existing tri-state network.
With WSOP MI going live just last week — 10 days before the MSIGA announcement — it’s hard to believe this timing is pure coincidence. Michigan joining the pact means that WSOP will now be able to enjoy the very first four-state-wide network — and potentially serve a combined population of 23 million residents.
US Online Poker States and Their MSIGA Status
|State||Online Poker Launched||Joined MSIGA||Population|
|Delaware||Nov 2013||Yes||1.0 million|
|Nevada||Apr 2013||Yes||3.1 million|
|New Jersey||Nov 2013||Yes||9.3 million|
|Pennsylvania||Nov 2019||No||13 million|
|Michigan||Jan 2021||Yes||10.1 million|
|West Virginia||Not Yet||No||1.8 million|
|Connecticut||Not Yet||No||3.6 million|
Other big guns like PokerStars and BetMGM/partypoker US Network would also, naturally, benefit and be able to finally launch their own multi-state poker network. Both of these operators have been operating discrete platforms in New Jersey and Michigan with player pools confined within the state.
BetMGM applauds MSIGA for admitting Michigan into the consortium. BetMGM is among the first operators to react to the latest development and expectedly welcomed the move.
“BetMGM applauds MSIGA for admitting Michigan into the consortium,” Luke Staudenmaier, Director of Poker at BetMGM, told MI Gaming Review. “Shared liquidity is paramount to the growth of online poker and this is a huge step in the right direction. We remain committed to expanding BetMGM’s poker offering and look forward to serving shared player pools in the future.”
But When Can Operators Merge with New Jersey and the Other States?
No specific date has been set for when Michigan players will be able to compete with players from other states.
Before operators could merge their player pool with Michigan, MGCB would have to execute the agreement. Furthermore, it would need to authorize licensed operators for multi-state poker — a process that could take days or weeks but not months, MI Gaming Review expects.
When asked if the MGCB anticipates long delays in approving individual operators to offer multi-state poker, spokeswoman Mary Kay Bean said the agency declined to comment.
WSOP, meanwhile, would also need to upgrade its software in New Jersey and Nevada to be in line with Michigan’s software powered by 888’s next-generation app Poker 8.
What about Pennsylvania?
It marks a significant development in US online poker history as Michigan’s entry could incite other states to join the agreement — particularly Pennsylvania, which is, currently, the largest US state with legal and regulated online poker. In the past, its state regulator has shown interest in joining the MSIGA but wanted more clarity around the Wire Act to proceed forward.
Even smaller states like West Virginia and Connecticut — which have legalized online poker but have yet to go live due to their small market size — would be tempted to join the agreement. The West Virginia Lottery Commission (WVLC), in fact, told pokerfuse last year it was considering the possibility of joining. Connecticut, on the other hand, has been tight-lipped about its plans.
No matter which way you slice it, Michigan joining is the beginning of a major transformation for US online poker. Traffic should more than double, tournaments will become even more attractive, and there will be no shortage of cash game players round the clock.
If another state such as Pennsylvania joins, it could push other states to legalize online poker and, hopefully, also become part of the pact.
BetMGM could also (finally) make use of its interactive gaming license in Nevada and launch online poker there to create its own tri-state poker network.
And Then There Were Four
With Michigan being accepted, four out of seven legalized online poker states have joined the MSIGA.
Delaware and Nevada were the first states to sign the agreement back in 2014. A year later, the first-ever interstate poker network kicked off. Nearly three years later, New Jersey became the third state to join the MSIGA.
Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement Timeline
|February 2014||Delaware & Nevada Form Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement aka MSIGA|
|March 2015||Inter-State Poker Play Between Delaware and Nevada Begins|
|October 2017||New Jersey Becomes the Third State to Join MSIGA|
|April 2018||WSOP Connects New Jersey with its Delaware & Nevada Player Pool|
|April 2022||Existing Members of MSIGA Approve Michigan’s Application to Join|
|???||The First Michigan Cross-Border Online Poker Network is Formed|
It took WSOP.com six months to form a coast-to-coast network joining its existing Nevada and Delaware player pool with New Jersey and securing its spot in poker history as the operator to launch a three-state poker network in the US.
Now five years later, the MSIGA association members have expanded, allowing a Midwestern member to join the party.
If history is any indication, operators should be able to combine their MI player pools with other states in approximately six to twelve months. However, technological advances and, in the case of WSOP and BetMGM/partypoker, previous experience with shared liquidity should help speed up the process, and Michigan online poker players might only be weeks away from competing against players in other states.