Michigan Senate Amends Online Gaming Bill To Allow Multi-State Online Poker

Today, the Michigan State Senate passed bill SB991, which would amend the Lawful Internet Gaming Act to allow the state to join multi-state online poker pools. The bill still needs sign-off from the state House of Representatives and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer before it becomes law. 

Michigan’s Lawful Internet Gaming Act originally included language allowing multi-state online poker agreements. However, before it passed in December 2019, the legislature removed it by request from the Michigan Lottery

The amendment looks unlikely to face any significant opposition from the House or Governor Whitmer, meaning it could pass by November. 

Multi-State Poker Agreements

Currently, three states are members of the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement: New Jersey, Delaware, and Pennsylvania. The agreement allows players in each market to participate in interstate online poker pools. 

If the amendment passes, Michigan could seek to join the agreement, bringing a new online poker market to the mix and vastly increasing the player pool. Michigan lawmakers could also strike individual agreements with states. The path forward is unclear, though the amendment lays crucial groundwork for multi-state poker pacts. 

Because Michigan is joining Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania in legalizing three forms of online gambling, joining the Multi-State Gaming Agreement seems a viable course for the state. West Virginia has also authorized sports betting, online casino gaming, and DFS, so it, too, could join the fray once regulations are finalized. 

Michigan On The Move

Michigan’s progress toward online gaming and sports betting has been gradual, to say the least. The state legalized three forms of online gaming in December 2019: Daily Fantasy Sports, online casinos, and online sports betting. Of those, only DFS has gone live, and that’s only because operators were already running sites in the state in a state of legal limbo. 

Now, Michigan looks closer than ever to launching online sports betting, with the first operators expected to go live in late fall. 

The Covid-19 pandemic has spurred quick action on the legislative side in Michigan, too. In a July interview, State Representative Brandt Iden, an ardent supporter of legal online gambling in Michigan, said: “[The] Michigan Gaming Control Board is saying that we hope to be ready potentially as soon as October, maybe November with being able to go online. If that timeline holds, then bettors will have online betting options after the NFL season begins. That’ll be great news for bettors and the sports betting industry.”

Though October has only just begun, it looks like an unlikely launch window. Most signs are pointing to a November launch in Michigan, still giving sports bettors plenty of NFL season to work with. A recent public hearing, held to discuss proposed online gambling rules, hinted that licensing could start in November. That’s the final step before operators can launch online sports betting, and it signals an imminent launch for the Great Lakes State. 

About the Author

Cole Rush

Cole Rush is a Chicago-based freelance writer in the gambling, media, and entertainment space. His work has been showcased in various gaming industry magazines and online columns. Prior to freelance writing, Cole spent seven years in communications at a gambling and lottery supplier.