A bill that seeks to allow Michigan to enter into interstate online poker agreements has now landed at the table of Governor Gretchen Whitmer, after the state’s House of Representatives approved the SB 991 by 85-16.
Gov. Whitmer gave the green light to expanded gaming in the state back in December 2019, and latest developments indicate Michigan could begin offering sports betting, online casino games, fantasy sports and online poker to domestic players in 2021.
While that in itself is great news, what’s more interesting is that the state is now moving closer to shared liquidity, which will hugely benefit the state’s online poker industry in general, since it will now be able to participate in interstate poker liquidity agreements with New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware. The state of Pennsylvania could also join the deal soon.
Shared liquidity deals with other jurisdictions pave the way for bigger player pools, and ultimately, bigger prize money. SB 991 now only needs Gov. Whitmer’s signature and the bill’s lead sponsor Senator Curtis Hertel, Jr is pretty confident she will sign it into law.
Hertel, who represents Michigan’s 23rd district, said there is currently no barrier that preventing the Governor from approving the bill.
When Michigan legalized gambling in December 2019, Gov. Whitmer emphasized the importance of setting aside more funds for education in Michigan, as well as the state’s fight against cancer. The Governor recognized that tax revenue from online gambling will be a huge source of increased funding for those sectors.
As soon as the bill was approved, the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) started working hard to try to have online games available to players as soon as possible. The regulator developed rules and regulations for the industry, and more recently issued the first provisional licenses to over a dozen gaming providers, including BetMGM.
Delayed Online Poker Launch Possible
The state is targeting a January 2021 launch date, but it still remains unclear whether online poker will be made available on a similar timeline. Mary Kay Bean from the MGCB said it will all depend on whether an operator is prepared enough and has complied with the necessary requirements. Before being deployed, poker games will be subject to evaluation by the agency’s own gaming lab, and other independent testing labs.
Shared liquidity is also not likely to take effect during the initial launch as there will still be a lot of things that the MGCB would take into careful consideration, especially with regards to compliance with its own rules and standards. The state is also expected to wait for the results of the ongoing Wire Act battle before entering interstate agreements.