Michigan Legislature Approves Interstate Online Poker

Bill awaits governor’s signature

Interstate online poker will be a possibility for players in Michigan someday. When? Who knows? But because Senate Bill 991 was sent to Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s desk on Wednesday, it is something that could be…in the cards.

SB 991 passed both legislative chambers with zero problems. The House voted 85-16 in favor and the Senate was nearly unanimous, 36-1. The governor will sign it to make it law.

The bill itself is nothing staggering. Michigan legalized online gambling last year and this piece of legislation just fixes some mistakes and oversights. Naturally, the one we are focused on is interstate online poker. Though online poker is not live yet in Michigan, it is legal. Last year’s law, however, did not authorize the Michigan Gaming Control Board to join up with other states to form a multistate poker network, just as state lotteries do for games like Mega Millions and Powerball.

The multistate poker portion of SB 991 is as follows:

The board may enter into agreements with other jurisdictions, including Indian tribes, to facilitate, administer, and regulate multijurisdictional internet gaming for poker by internet gaming operators to the extent that entering into the agreement is consistent with state and federal laws and if the internet gaming under the agreement is conducted only in the United States.

Nevada, Delaware, and New Jersey want some friends

Nevada and Delaware were the first two states to link up, though that was really out of necessity, as their populations alone made it difficult to sustain an online poker industry. New Jersey joined them later, given them a hefty boost.

Right now, there is only one poker network that crosses state borders: the All American Poker Network (AAPN). Now, nobody knows it by that name, but it is effectively 888poker’s U.S. network, as it both owns the network and powers the sites that are part of it. In Nevada and New Jersey those sites are WSOP.com (WSOP.com is the only online poker room in Nevada). All three of Delaware’s sites use 888’s software and share player liquidity with WSOP.com, though Delaware players are not eligible for WSOP.com promotions.

Pennsylvania is the only other state with an active online poker room, but a) the state has not entered into a compact with the other three states yet, and b) that poker room is PokerStars, so it wouldn’t be on AAPN, anyway.

As mentioned, we don’t know when online poker will actually launch in Michigan. At the very beginning of this month, lawmakers approved online gambling regulations, setting things up for a possible online casino and sports betting launch by the end of the year. We have a week left in the year and there’s no word on anything, so who knows, but we can all be fairly certain that online casinos and sportsbooks will appear before poker. They are more profitable and easier to test, as they do not involved player-versus-player gambling. At least we now know that multi-state online poker is possible for Michiganders at some point in the future.

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