After Michigan came online with internet casino gaming earlier this month without any online poker, the internet poker community was hugely disappointed. That disappointment turned to excitement when, in only the company’s second state and in the fifth state overall in the States of America, PokerStars opened for business in Michigan.
Sudden And Surprising Move
The move by PokerStars to open in the Wolverine State was sudden and surprising. At 11AM (Eastern Time), the switch was flipped for PokerStars to offer their wares. In a much more quieter opening, Fox Bet became the 11th online sportsbook offering their product to the citizens of the state. This goes along with the 10 authorized online casinos that launched in Michigan back on January 22.
Fox Bet’s Chief Executive Officer, Kip Levin, was enthusiastic about the new venues. “The key differentiators for us have always been our valued partnership with the FOX Corporation and the strength of our industry leading FOX Bet Super 6 product combined with the PokerStars business, and we plan to lean into these unique assets as we launch in Michigan,” Levin said in a release to Ryan Zuke of mlive.com. “Behind FOX Bet Sportsbook, PokerStars and Stars Casino, customers create one account for all three apps, unlocking a wide variety of exciting and entertaining options to supercharge the experience for our Michigan audience.”
The opening of the PokerStars operation in Michigan is much like the opening of their product in the state on Pennsylvania. As with their path in Pennsylvania, the Michigan market was untapped currently and the opening of PokerStars in Michigan makes them the only game in town (much like they have been in Pennsylvania for the last year). There haven’t been any special promotions announced for the new PokerStars operation, but you can be sure they are forthcoming.
Another New Outlet Doesn’t Guarantee Compacting
With Michigan opening for online poker business, the possibilities of compacts with other states once again raises the hopes of poker fans. Unfortunately, at this point those dreams are going to have to be held back.
First, the only other states that offer PokerStars-run materials – which would be critical to operating a multi-state compact – only exist in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The other two markets that offer online poker – Nevada and Delaware – do not have a PokerStars platform in their states (in fact, Delaware’s operation is entirely 888/WSOP dominant). Thus, there would be no ability for the three PokerStars operations to link up.
Second, the individual states have no agreement in place for compacting between each other. While they all have a clause in their state-specific regulations for compacting online poker with other states, they haven’t taken the step of signing agreements to share players. In all honesty, the states may not WANT to share the profits with a multi-state agreement, instead keeping the revenues for their own state.
In New Jersey, online poker set records in 2020 (partially due to COVID restrictions closing B&M casinos for much of the year) and Pennsylvania saw huge revenues come in for their poker product. Michigan’s system, with a market of ten million citizens, is smaller than the Pennsylvania market (12.78 million) and hasn’t yet established their performance levels.
Finally, there is still the specter of the federal government hanging over any interstate compact. The Wire Act, and its multiple interpretations, are still kind of up in the air for the individual states. They are going to want some solidity to the laws before they conceive of having a multi-state, nationwide gaming operation.
Still, Michigan’s entry into the online gaming arena is an important one. Becoming the fifth state to offer online poker is significant and sports betting, just before Super Bowl LV, should be a windfall for the casinos in the state (an online operation must go through a casino or Indian gaming outlet in the state). Add in the lure of online casinos, which have made billions in New Jersey ($2.19 billion, to be exact, since its inception in 2013), and online casino gaming and poker in the States of America should continue to grow – just not with each other.