Interstate Online Poker Closer to Fruition in Michigan

Online poker is so close to launching in Michigan. Players have been waiting for more than a year to be able to hit the virtual felt, and it shouldn’t be too much longer before it becomes a reality. Just last week, new progress was made involving the industry. SB 991 is a measure that would allow the state to offer interstate poker gaming, basically shared player pools with other states. The measure passed within the House and Senate and must now be signed by the governor to become law.

Approval Pending

SB 991 is a bill sponsored by Senator Curtis Hertel Jr. The measure was approved in the House by a vote of 85 to 16 and in the Senate 36 to 1. If Governor Gretchen Whitmer signs the bill, which it is expected that she will do so, then the Michigan Gaming Control Board can approve interstate compacts. Basically, Michigan can team up with Delaware, New Jersey, and Nevada for shared player pools.

With shared player pooling, there is a larger number of players for tournaments and cash games. Pennsylvania also offers online poker, but the state has not signed up yet for interstate gaming options. If they do so in the future, Michigan would be able to access games in this state as well.

2021 Launch

When it comes to online poker, casino, and sports betting services, the state will go live in 2021. It was expected that some services would launch by the end of this year, but delays have taken place that ended that option.

The first launch is still a few weeks out as the process to get started has taken some time. It is expected that online casino and/or sports betting will launch first, sometime in mid-to-late January. The approval process was slow going and of course, operators also have to pass certain testing phases and requirements before they will be given the greenlight to launch.

Several parts go into launching an online gambling site such as the software platforms and geolocation services. These options must be reviewed by the Gaming Control Board before moving forward. Paperwork must be submitted and reviewed, which takes time as well.

The Board is giving out provisional licensing in the beginning just to get the ball rolling. Background investigations take time, but many operators are earning this provisional approval based on information already submitted along with reputation.

There is also another stipulation in Michigan. Online gambling of any kind cannot launch in the state until one commercial casino and one tribal operator are approved to launch. In the state, there are 23 tribal casinos licensed for operation and then three commercial casinos in Detroit. The stipulation was put in place to ensure that both sectors launch congruently instead of one before the other.

It will be interesting to see which operators launch first and when online poker will be live and fully operational. Hopefully by at least February there will be one site on offer for players to enjoy!


Logan is based in Los Angeles and is an avid poker player having played in tournaments across the globe. He covers both poker & regulatory affairs.