WSOP.com in partnership with 888 is expected to launch online poker operations in Michigan and Pennsylvania before the end of June 2021. 888 Holdings PLC, parent company to 888poker made the announcement during a recent call with investors. 888 have an existing partnership with Caesars and the World Series of Poker that has allowed 888 to provide software support for WSOP.com sites since 2013.
Under the long-running partnership, which has recently been extended for a further five years, WSOP.com will expand its US operations to both the Wolverine and Keystone State through the 888poker license. The operator is expected to go live in the new regulated markets in the “next couple of months”, according to 888 Holdings CEO Itai Pazner.
The 888poker software is currently powering the online poker shared liquidity network between New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware. That network is set to expand with the potential addition of both Pennsylvania and Michigan.
Poker 8 US Rollout
As discussed during 888 Holdings’ Q1 2021 investor’s call, WSOP.com will go live in Pennsylvania and Michigan featuring the new Poker 8 platform. It will mark the first time that the innovative software update is brought to the US market, having been previously rolled out in most of 888poker’s clients across the globe.
The rollout of the new platform, which features major upgrades to 888poker’s desktop and mobile clients, will be among the main focus of WSOP.com’s upcoming launch in both states. Players in Pennsylvania and Michigan will be the first ones in the US to experience the new cutting-edge software from 888poker.
Poker 8 carries a slate of major improvements and new features, including a clean redesigned lobby, as well as the availability of multi-flight tournaments for the desktop client. The software upgrade also improves the whole mobile experience, adding a new portrait layout and allowing players to play up to four tables at the same time.
The company will then complete the Poker 8 rollout by also launching the software in New Jersey and Nevada.
Bigger WSOP Online Series?
The launch of WSOP.com in both Pennsylvania and Michigan means it will now cater to a much bigger customer base. The operator is currently serving players in New Jersey and Nevada, which both have a combined population of around 11 million. That figure is set to triple with the addition of Michigan’s 10 million, and Pennsylvania’s 13 million.
Since 2015, WSOP.com has been hosting online bracelet events for its players in New Jersey and Nevada, as part of the WSOP festival. Last year, when poker action went online due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the site played host to a total of 31 bracelet events and awarded almost $27 million in prizes.
This year, another WSOP Online Series featuring 33 bracelets is set to kick off on WSOP.com this July. If the player pools from both Pennsylvania and Michigan are factored in, then the series can expect a record-breaking turnout.
That will only be possible if both states decide to participate in the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement (MSIGA) just before the start of the series. But this is an unlikely prospect at the moment, considering the existing legal issues that still need to be ironed out, especially when it comes to the Wire Act.
MI and PA Could Join MSIGA
Michigan and Pennsylvania have remained hesitant to join the existing interstate poker deal which allows for online poker liquidity between states, because of the DOJ’s reinterpretation of the Wire Act.
In June 2019, the DOJ issued a reversed opinion, concluding that the law also applies to all forms of online gambling, other than sports betting. If the revised opinion is followed through, it would put interstate online poker operations in jeopardy.
The issue is currently the subject of a legal battle initiated by the New Hampshire Lottery Commission. Recent rulings have gone in favor of online poker, with the election of Joe Biden to the US Presidency and the death of long-time online poker opponent Sheldon Adelson giving renewed optimism that the 2011 Wire Act would be reinstated, allowing the US online poker industry to flourish.