This is breaking news and will be updated.
The day Michigan poker players have been waiting for has arrived! Late in the afternoon of April 6, regulators in Delaware, Nevada and New Jersey makes the joint announcement that the Wolverine State was accepted into the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement (MSIGA).
The three regulators made the announcement through their joint entity, Multistate Internet Gaming Association LLC, a company registered in Delaware. The society manages the mutual interests of member states in multi-state poker.
State-by-state regulation of online gambling has led to US markets being segregated or “closed”.
In 2014, Nevada and Delaware formed a pact to share their traffic because Delaware’s population was too small to support a viable poker ecosystem on its own. New Jersey joined the compact three years later.
Unfortunately, the of the Ministry of Justice decision to reinterpret the wire act apply to all forms of gambling threw a wrench into things. According to this new interpretation, the MSIGA would have been illegal.
Fortunately, the New Hampshire Lottery challenged this new reading on the grounds that it would also ban interstate lotteries as Power ball. He won his case last year. The DOJ declined to officially withdraw its opinion, but its chances of winning future legal battles are slim.
Still, the uncertainty surrounding the Wire Act has had a chilling effect on other states’ interest in joining the MSIGA. Although it created a legal market for online poker in 2019, Pennsylvania has not attempted to join.
The Michigan Road to MSIGA
Michigan, which only launched its market in 2021, was bolder. The wording of its original Legal Online Gambling Act (LIGA) did not allow multi-state gambling agreements.
However, this was at the behest of the state lottery, whose concerns were largely to make interstate progressive slot jackpots. When poker operators complained about the impact cantonment would have on them, the legislature passed a separate bill to allow Michigan Gaming Control Commission to enter multi-state pacts just for poker.
The MGCB began working on its entry into the compact almost immediately. However, this took longer than expected, as regulatory affairs often do. At one point he said he expected to be there by the end of 2021, but that didn’t happen.
Recently, there were some signs that this day was coming. First, the MGCB has published guidelines for multi-state poker operators on its website. Shortly after, WSOP made its long-awaited entry into the state.
WSOP operates the only multi-state poker network today, covering all three home states. No other operator is present in Delaware or Nevada, and therefore no one else has been able to take advantage of the MSIGA so far. Its higher traffic due to interstate liquidity has been one of the main selling points of the WSOP, so the assumption here at online poker report was that it was delaying its entry into Michigan specifically so it could start sharing traffic soon after launch.
A multi-state debut for PokerStars and BetMGM
Now that it is possible to connect Michigan and New Jersey, all operators are likely to do so. This means that it will be the first time that players on PokerStars’ and BetMGM Poker’s regulated US sites will be able to play against opponents from another state.
We don’t know exactly when that will be, but RPO try to get answers. It may not be immediate. In the case of New Jersey, it took about six months from when it entered the compact to when the WSOP could go live.
Hopefully the process will be more streamlined this time around. WSOP certainly knows what it’s doing in this regard now, and PokerStars already has a cross-jurisdictional network in Europe. This network was originally intended to include France, Spain and Italy, but ultimately only the first two of them joined, as political unrest in Italy got in the way. Ultimately, Portugal joins the network instead of Italy.
There is still no word from Pennsylvania on whether or not she will join. However, if things go well with Michigan, and IGT succeeds in its efforts to settle the Wire Act issue once and for all, these factors should allay the remaining concerns at the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Commission.