In a recent Michigan House of Representatives legislative session, 85 members voted to pass the interstate poker bill allowing Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) to partner with various jurisdictions to offer interstate online poker. Sixteen members voted against the bill, while nine did not vote. The bill is now in the governor’s office, awaiting Gretchen Whitmer’s sign, turning the bill into a lawful internet gaming act.
According to 23rd district Michigan Senator Curtis Hertel Jr, the state expected the interstate SB 991 bill to pass. He added that it was exciting for the state to finally have a system to provide online poker players with a platform to game legally. Hertel also said that the governor had no reason not to sign the bill, saying he looked forward to when Michigan residents would start to shuffle and deal cards.
On December 20, 2019, governor Whitmer signed a set of bills into law, allowing online poker into Michigan. As she was signing, Whitmer said the move would allow generation of more tax revenue that would fund firefighters recovering from cancer and schools in the state. Since then, MGCB has been actively creating all fine details, including rules and regulations, steps to follow when acquiring a license, and the process of vetting potential operators.
Up until last week, MGCB had issued its first set of licenses to 15 gaming operators. With the 15 platforms provides already in place, Michigan is expected to go in line with online poker in early January 2021. One of the operators you can expect to cross is BetMGM that is offering Michigan players who register before January 4, 2021, a $100 bonus.
Poker Operators Will Determine When Online Poker Games Launch
Although the first internet game wager is expected to happen in January, online poker might be among the last game to gain popularity, with other casino games and sports betting taking the front seats. According to MGCB Communication Specialist Mary Bean, online poker readiness will depend on operators’ preparedness. The games provided will be evaluated by an independent body and approved by MGCB before it launches.
Testing and approval of poker games are more extensive than other casino games, as it only involves players and not players against the house. Usually, the launch of online poker comes months later after the legalization of internet games. A good example is Pennsylvania, the state that last approved online poker. Michigan poker enthusiasts hope to break the trend instead of starting poker soon after the governor signs SB 991 into law.
When Will Michigan Allow Interstate Online Poker?
It’s not clear when MGCB might allow interstate online poker. But, we are sure the board is not ready for interstate poker gaming by the time it launches in January. The board is likely to test the waters and confirm that all gaming is at prime before accepting players from other states to the Michigan tournament or cash games.
Already, New Jersey, Delaware, and Nevada states are ready to enter into the interstate poker concept under multistate internet gaming when the right time comes. Moreover, Michigan and other states have to reinterpret the internet wire act, currently pending another ruling at Federal Supreme Court before entering into multistate poker gaming.