Analysis

Michigan interstate poker bill marks return of poker vertical

The return of online poker could be on the cards in the US if a draft bill to allow interstate poker in Michigan becomes law. 

The state’s Wedge Index ranking would also jump up a few places if the poker bill becomes law.

The state is currently in T13th position on the Wedge Index with 13 points. 

If the final version of the online regulations allows for mobile betting, online casino and poker and remote registration the state would benefit from a 30-point boost on the index.

That would bring its points total to 43 and propelling it up to number 8 in the standings, a point above Nevada.  

Pooling liquidities 

Senate Bill 0991 has already been approved by the state’s senators and will now  move on to the House of Representatives.

It would allow poker sites in Michigan to pool player liquidities with other regulated states in the US, thus offering poker fans more game variants and opportunities to find players to play against. 

The bill was introduced in June by Senator Curtis Hertel and was approved by a vote of 36-1. Tt will now be presented to the House Committee on Regulatory Reform.

Michigan is working towards establishing its regulated online gambling market and the addition of online, multi-jurisdictional poker would be a further string to its igaming bow. 

If passed, SB0991 would be added as an amendment to the Michigan Lawful Internet Gaming Act. 

The act was signed by Governor Gretchen Whitmer in December 2019 and sets out the roadmap for the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) to issue licenses for online and mobile sports betting and casino games.

It is currently being reviewed and a final version is expected later this Autumn. 

The bill does not set out specific regulations for interstate online poker, but  includes language that would allow the Michigan Gaming Control Board to strike agreements with other jurisdictions to establish games between players in different states.

“Poker and derivatives of the game”

The text of the bill says: “The board may enter into agreements with other jurisdictions, including Indian tribes, to facilitate, administer, and regulate multi-jurisdictional internet gaming for poker.”

The draft text adds that poker is defined as the “traditional game of poker, and any derivative of the game of poker” as approved by the MGCB.

Michigan’s plans to open its igaming market were first scheduled for early 2021, but with the state’s land-based gaming sector adversely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic efforts were put in place to accelerate the regulatory process.

Regulated retail betting launched in March in Michigan, brands like William Hill, Rush Street and Golden Nugget are all active in the state and more are expected. 

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Jake Pollard

Jake Pollard is an experienced journalist and editor who has covered the online gaming and betting industry for many years. He has written for the leading media outlets as well as operators and suppliers in the igaming space. His current areas of focus are wide-ranging and include regulatory developments in the US, emerging markets in South America and how European countries are adapting to a decade of igaming regulation.

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