Online poker could go live in the state of Michigan this 2020, months ahead of the outlined 2021 launch date. A representative from the Michigan Gaming Control Board recently confirmed the news, saying the launch could take place this fall, if everything goes well.
This is welcome news for online poker players and fans in the state who have long been waiting and wanting to freely enjoy their favorite game virtually, without worrying much about legal consequences.
Launch Could Take Place in September 2020
In 2019, Michigan took a huge step forward to entering the “modern era of gaming” after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed into law legislation paving the way for legalized online poker, sports betting, and online casino games.
The regulated market is hoped to bring much-needed tax revenue for the Wolverine State, most of which will go towards the School Aid Fund, with a significant portion also forming part of a fund allocated for cancer-stricken firefighters. During that time, lawmakers had projected the launch to take place in 2021, but the current pandemic has forced the government to change its plans.
Mandated lockdowns across the globe resulted in the temporary closure of casinos and other gambling establishments, including those operating in Michigan. The closures which began in mid-March represented massive revenue losses for the state, impacting its economy. In 2019, casinos generated nearly $118 million in tax revenue for the state, that figure could have been hit or even surpassed this year if coronavirus did not create a massive barrier.
In an attempt to recover a portion of the losses, the government is fast-tracking the launch of online gambling in the state, a growing industry that’s poised to benefit the local economy and bring in more jobs for Michigan residents. Ongoing efforts could see online poker, online casinos, and sports betting going live in the Wolverine State some time in September.
No Shared Player Pool For Online Poker in Michigan
Michigan’s population is a bit bigger than New Jersey, though the latter is home to a more active live poker scene. However, if online poker revenue is taken into consideration, Michigan can potentially match New Jersey, a market that’s recently been benefiting from $4 million in average online poker revenue each month. This figure does not include sports betting and online casinos.
While online poker could finally go live in the state this year, players and fans should lower their expectations when it comes to shared player pools. The first draft of rules released for operators indicate that Michigan will initially be a ring-fenced market, meaning it will not be joining the Multi-State Internet Agreement enabling shared liquidity between New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware, at least during the launch.
Pennsylvania also did the same thing when its regulated online poker market opened in November 2019. While this might be the case, a Michigan lawmaker has maintained that they’re not discounting the possibility of a shared player pool, though it’s understood it could take quite a while before it finally happens.
Confusions over the Wire Act have hampered state efforts to take part in interstate poker. The question as to whether or not the Wire Act applies to all forms of online gambling has been hanging in the air, and states would rather wait for things to get clearer rather than jump hastily into the pool clueless about legal ramifications.
In 2018, the Office of Legal Counsel issued its opinion on the Wire Act, saying the law covers not just sports betting, but all forms of interstate gambling, including online poker and online lotteries, putting the legality of both industries at risk. It is currently the subject of a legal battle that has been brought to the First Circuit Court of Appeals, involving the New Hampshire Lottery Commission and the US Department of Justice.
This legal struggle has been hampering the overall growth of online poker in the US. If the court comes up with a favorable ruling, then more states will join the interstate compact, paving the way for massive liquidity that benefits everyone, most especially the players.

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