As Michigan moves closer to implementing legislation allowing online gaming in the state, a proposal has now been lodged to include interstate player pooling in online poker operations. This would allow the state to join multi-jurisdictional internet gaming arrangements within the United States.
The Lawful Internet Gaming Act was signed into law by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in December 2019 but it was not clarified whether multi-state player pools would also be allowed, and this is what State Sen. Curtis Hertel Jr. will try to address in his latest bill.
Hertel, who, alongside Republican Rep. Brandt Iden aggressively pushed for online gaming legalization in Michigan last ysear, has proposed that the Michigan Gaming Control Board be allowed to enter into deals with other states, including Indian tribes, on the regulation of online poker.
Online Poker Shouldn’t Be Limited
Simply put, the Democrat senator wants Michigan to be included in multi-state player pools, such as the one currently in effect between New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware, provided the processes are fully compliant with state and federal laws. Hertel refused to give any timeline for when his latest proposal will be approved, but the senator is confident it will pass smoothly.
Hertel believes his colleagues are of the same opinion as him, thus, his latest bill would no longer need to go through the eye of a needle. According to him, it should be “an easy fix”, considering that none of his fellow legislators had raised concerns regarding allowing online poker to cross borders.
The senator said the absence of interstate player pooling would only “limit the ability of people to find games”. Online poker is a unique gaming vertical and differs from blackjack or slot machines as it involves a wide range of games, variants, and limits.
In other casino games, there is no need to attract people from multiple jurisdictions, but in a poker game, you need to consider a lot of factors, plus the presence of several online poker platforms will further divide the number of players participating. Hertel said he can’t find any reasons policy-wise to limit poker players, in contrast to other internet gaming verticals like slot machines which could put the state’s lottery operations in jeopardy should out-of-state pools be allowed.
Hertel gave an assurance that there have been no worries or concerns at all regarding multi-state player pools in online poker, and that the initial lack of clarification regarding the matter was just an “unintentional problem” that emerged during the drafting and negotiating process.
At the moment, there are only four states allowing regulated online poker in the US – Nevada, New Jersey, Delaware, and most recently Pennsylvania (but it has yet to join the intertstate poker compact between the first three states). If online poker finally goes live in Michigan, players in the state will be a great addition to the existing pools. Among the states currently offering legal online poker, Michigan has the second highest population (next to Pennsylvania).
Michigan Online Gaming Could Go Live By October
With COVID-19 still forcing people to stay at home and limit their movement, online gaming could be launched as soon as possible, considering the need for the government to secure alternative revenue streams amid the global pandemic. Online gambling could generate much needed taxes for the Wolverine State; it will also allow the people of Michigan to play or gamble safely from the comfort of their own homes without needing to go to land-based casinos.
While the actual launch date of online gaming in Michigan remains unknown, Hertel is optimistic online casino, sports betting and online poker could finally operate as early as October. At the moment, only Pennsylvania and New Jersey are allowing all three online gaming verticals, and figures show both states are enjoying a significant boost in revenue. Michigan will enjoy a similar advantage as soon as online gaming becomes fully operational in the state.

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