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Michigan Online Poker Likely To Be Live In November

Legislators Are Discussing Whether Multi-State Compacts Will Be Available For Michigan Online Poker Operators

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State regulators are anticipating a launch of online poker in Michigan along the same time frame as sports betting. If everything runs smoothly, Michiganders can grind online tournaments in November.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an online gambling bill into law last December, which legalized all forms of online gambling and retail sports betting. As of January, regulators were targeting early 2021 to roll out its market, but the COVID-19 pandemic sparked an urgency by state officials to make up for lost revenue stemming from the brick-and-mortar casino shutdown.

Earlier this month, Michigan Gaming Control Board Executive Director Richard Kalm said that he hoped for a November launch, and he confirmed that time frame with local media Monday. The rules are in place and with several other states experiencing a ton of success with its online marketplace, regulators were able to mimic existing frameworks.

“We put together a rule set that we met it through the 12 tribes with three commercial casinos, and we’re very close,” Kalm told a local NBC affiliate. “We didn’t reinvent the wheel. We found rules from Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Indiana. Most of these operators are licensed there and operated there now. So there wasn’t a big learning curve.”

Those set of rules will be passed along to the Michigan Office of Administrative Hearings and Rules. Once approved, they will head to the state legislature’s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules where they will be finalized and put into place.

In the current U.S. regulated online poker market, Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey can share a player pool with sites that are licensed in all three states, while Pennsylvania only allows its players to gamble with others within its borders.

Based on actions within the Michigan Senate, it seems like the state will likely join a shared player pool with other states, though nothing is finalized.

In June, Sen. Curtis Hertel, a Democrat that was instrumental in bridging the gap between the Republican-sponsored gaming bill and the Democrat Governor, introduced SB991, a bill that would allow Michigan online poker to form a compact with other states to share liquidity.

Last week, the bill was up for discussion as part of the Senate’s Regulatory Reform Committee, and Hertl told another gambling outlet that he thought it would move to the House before the end of the month. There were no questions about or objections to Hertl’s bill, which bodes well its passage.

If it were to pass, it would likely do so after the roll out of Michigan’s online market, meaning that poker sites would be Michigan-only when they are first available to the masses.