Michigan PokerStars May Begin Multistate Poker, Says MGCB

Michigan PokerStars may be the first site to unite the state’s online poker players with New Jerseyans, but it needn’t be the last, hints the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB).

On Jan. 1, Michigan PokerStars players can compete with New Jerseyans on the app.

At 9 a.m. today, the MGCB announced its approval of that site’s multistate poker play. Also, the board hints that PokerStars could add more states. Plus, Michigan’s two other online poker sites may want to seek approval for multistate poker.

The MGCB announced:

Any Michigan licensed operator may partner with a platform provider to offer multijurisdictional poker. The operator and platform provider must meet MGCB requirements before the agency would approve launch.

Other operators and platform providers would need to obtain necessary approvals to introduce poker and to offer multijurisdictional games. Currently, MGM Grand Detroit with BetMGM and the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians with World Series of Poker also are authorized poker providers in Michigan, but they are not authorized for multijurisdictional play.

Michigan PokerStars’ Union Took Time

Michigan launched its legal online gambling marketplace on Jan. 22, 2021. Around that time, the MGCB began work on allowing multistate poker play.

That involved Michigan joining the Multistate Internet Gaming Agreement (MSIGA). This April, Michigan regulators were able to formally ask to join the agreement. In May, MGCB Executive Director Henry Williams signed the agreement.

Two more hurdles remained.

Michigan online poker sites were waiting for a decision on a 2018 interpretation of the Wire Act. That interpretation appeared to allow federal authorities to prosecute online casino and poker operators and vendors for transmitting data about players on their sites across borders. In other words, it appeared to prohibit multistate poker play. On Sept. 15, the US District Court District of Rhode Island decided in favor of the gambling industry, and the Wire Act interpretation threat disappeared.

Now, Michigan online poker sites needed to seek approval from the MGCB for multistate poker.

Michigan PokerStars was the first operator to do so.

Today, MGCB said:

Michigan internet gaming operator Odawa Online and platform partner The Stars Group (TSG) have permission to launch multistate internet poker games in Michigan.

The Michigan Gaming Control Board granted approval Dec. 20, and New Jersey granted TSG Poker Stars permission on Dec. 23, to launch on January 1, 2023. Michigan players can now play with New Jersey players.

“Poker players in Michigan have anticipated eagerly the launch of multistate internet poker,” said Henry Williams, executive director, MGCB. “I congratulate the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians and TSG Poker Stars for being the first operator and provider granted permission to launch multistate internet poker in Michigan.”

Michigan PokerStars Isn’t the First Multistate Poker Site

WSOP unites Delaware, Nevada, and New Jersey online poker players. It also allows them to enter some aspects of the World Series of Poker via the site.

However, WSOP’s Michigan site doesn’t yet allow multistate competition.

The MGCB said today that WSOP could opt to change that.

The board also seems to say Michigan PokerStars could expand:

Other MSIGA members include Delaware, New Jersey, and Nevada. The agreement allows Odawa Online and TSG (Poker-Stars) to pool their Michigan players with players in the other jurisdictions in the agreement where TSG is licensed and authorized to operate.

Prior to the impending launch, all Michigan poker players could play online only against other players located in the state. The agreement allows authorized operators and providers to pool their Michigan players with players in the other jurisdictions where they are licensed and authorized to operate.

“A larger volume of players likely will result in more game options, more frequent games and larger tournament prizes,” Williams said.

The MGCB announcement even provides bullet points of guidance for Michigan online poker site owners to seek approval. It seems the regulator is ensuring operators know the opportunity for multistate poker is available whenever they seek it.

About the Author

Heather Fletcher

Heather Fletcher is a writer for Michigan Sharp with a focus on online casino content. She had her first published byline at age 10, but didn't get paid for her writing until she got her first newspaper job. Heather's work in Suburban News Publications in Ohio and eventually took her to The New York Times, where she's still a contract freelance reporter for the National Desk. In March 2021, Fletcher began writing about online casino gambling as the lead writer for Online Poker Report, which lead her to MI Sharp.