When Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed Michigan’s Lawful Internet Gaming Act, initial expectations were that the state would have to wait until 2021 before launching its online gambling market.
However, COVID-19 caused forced Michigan to make major changes to its online gambling launch. With land-based casinos closed since mid-March to minimize the risk of contagion, Michigan had to reconsider its priorities and had to look for ways to recover lost revenue.
The government has been working hard to fast track the state’s online gambling market as it currently has great potential to bring in much-needed revenue, especially with the ongoing surge in online traffic. All efforts have now paid off, and as early as November 2020, Michigan players can finally enjoy real money games.
Now that the launch is fast approaching, the excitement is building up, especially among online poker fans. All eyes are now set on which online poker sites will launch first.
Since online gambling was legalized in Michigan, nearly 50 gambling operators have sought approval to operate in the state, but it’s understood not all of them will launch an online poker site, which leaves us with this question: Which operators will be part of the first batch of online poker sites launched in Michigan?
PokerStars-partypoker Rivalry Set To Continue in Michigan
In January 2020, just barely a month after online gambling was legalized in Michigan, PokerStars’ parent company The Stars Group (TSG) entered an agreement with the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians Gaming Authority to offer online gaming services to domestic players.
TSG is expected to become a major player in the state’s sports betting and online casino markets through the FOXBet and FanDuel brands, and will also offer online poker via PokerStars.
PokerStars became the first online poker operator to secure a partnership in Michigan and it’s highly likely it will also be there when the state finally launches its online gambling market. PokerStars is the only online poker site currently operating in Pennsylvania via PokerStars PA. The brand is also active in New Jersey through PokerStars NJ.
partypoker struck a deal with MGM Grand Detroit via its partner company Roar Digital to successfully enter in Michigan. This means that the battle for dominance in the US poker market will continue between PokerStars and partypoker.
Both operators are currently vying for leadership position in New Jersey, being the two sites with the largest market shares. They have been launching major online tournaments and promotions in a bid to grow their respective player pools.
partypoker marked its entrance in New Jersey with a host of acquisition campaigns. We can expect a similar move when the brand attempts to gain a foothold in the Michigan market.
WSOP.com, 888poker Yet To Submit License Application
Meanwhile, the other major online poker operators have yet to apply for a license from the Michigan Gaming Control Board.
WSOP.com’s parent company Caesars Interactive Entertainment is notably absent from the list of license applicants in Michigan, meaning the site, which is currently operating in New Jersey and Nevada, will not be part of Michigan’s online poker launch.
This means that if the WSOP decides to hold another online edition of the prestigious festival in 2021, players in Michigan will miss out on the action. WSOP.com’s partner operator 888poker has yet to apply for a supplier’s license.
The decision by both operators not to submit a license application is quite surprising, but it maybe because they’re still waiting for the Wire Act case to be settled. So if the final judgment in the case favors online poker, cross-border liquidity will be possible, and both WSOP.com and 888poker could eventually join Michigan’s online poker market.
GGPoker, the operator that made waves in 2020 for hosting the record-breaking WSOP Online, currently has no plans to expand its operations to the US market. It is not active in any US state and also did not apply for a license in Michigan.

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