In December 2019, Governor Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan decided to sign online gambling legislation into law. Since that time, lawmakers have been busy working on getting the industry up and running. One aspect that is currently in the works is interstate player pooling within the online poker industry. Senator Curtis Hertel Jr. worked hard on the Lawful Internet Gaming Act and now has plans to introduce a measure that would clarify online poker to include multi-state player pools.
The proposal includes language that would allow the Gaming Control Board to enter into agreements with other jurisdictions. This would include Indian tribes as well as other states. The Board would be able to regulate multi-jurisdictional online poker gaming which would lead to large pools of players for the state.
Basically, poker sites that operate in the state of Michigan would be able to offer services in other states where online poker is legal. Right now, this would include New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Nevada and Delaware. However, Pennsylvania does not allow player pooling at the moment. The other three states already work together to pool their poker players.
Confident in the Addition
As Hertel seeks to see this addition made, he feels confident that others will be supportive, and the law will pass. According to the Senator, he feels the lack of clarification involving multi-state player pooling was an unintentional problem created during the drafting and negotiation process.
He pointed out that discussions were held during the process of passing online gambling legislation that considered out-of-state pools and how the industry would be able to compete with the lottery. Any concerns over this type of action were discussed during the process.
Hertel pointed out that if players in Michigan can only play with others from the state, it will be harder to find games. With online poker, multiple people are needed to start cash games and tournaments. By opening up the player pool, there will be a larger traffic flow which will help games to continually run at the online poker sites of the state.
The Senator also stated that there is no policy reason to limit gaming to just within the state. He feels the fix will be simple and is working on it now so that when the industry launches, players will have access to larger pools.
So, when will online poker launch in Michigan? Hertel suggest that they should be ready by October. While this is still months away, at least the launch should take place this year. The state, like others, is in desperate need of funds due to the affect of the covid-19 pandemic.
Casinos have been shut down since mid-March and are only now starting to reopen. A lot of time has went by with businesses closed and millions of dollars in revenues lost. With online poker gaming, the state would have a new form of revenues and hopefully start to build on what was lost due to the pandemic as gaming launches.