Michigan poker players can finally celebrate as they will now be able to play real-money games from PokerStars. The world’s largest online poker site became the first online poker operator to launch in the state on January 29. The company’s online casino and sports betting sites Stars Casino and FOX Bet also launched on the same day.
All three have been granted permission to operate in the Wolverine State in partnership with the Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians, which runs the Odawa Casino in Petoskey. Poker players have been patiently waiting for over a year for legalized poker to launch.
In December 2019, Governor Gretchen Whitmer approved a bill legalizing online poker, sports betting, and online casino in Michigan. A significant portion of the revenue generated by the state’s newly-opened online gaming market will be used to support the education of Michigan students, as well as boost funding for state firefighters battling cancer. The industry will be supervised by the Michigan Gaming Control Board.
While PokerStars was reported to launch at around 11am on January 29th, the first online poker games actually began running around two hours later, as shown by screenshots shared on social media. Some players also initially encountered technical difficulties in relation to making deposits, which is understandable given that the operations are still in the early stages.
Going forward, Michigan players can expect a full slate of daily tournaments from PokerStars. The site is also expected to bring the Championship of Online Poker (COOP) tournament series to Michigan, with the state’s own version set to be called the Michigan Championship of Online Poker (MICOOP), though the operator has yet to finalize the schedule. These offerings mimic those in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
MI Set to Join Interstate Agreement
Local players will only be allowed to play within borders for now, which means they cannot yet compete with players from other states, though Michigan is expected to join shared liquidity agreements soon, after Gov. Whitmer also approved legislation in December 2020, allowing the state to participate in multi-state play. Add to that the recent ruling in the Wire Act case, which has gone in favor of interstate online poker.
The next operator to launch in Michigan could be BetMGM Poker, as it already has an existing partnership with MGM Detroit.