After Senate approval, Michigan interstate online poker bill moves to State House
Michigan Senate Bill 991 (SB 991), which has been designed to allow the state to share online poker player pools with other states, has just got approval from senators and now moves to the House for endorsement. The SB 991 will make required amendments in Michigan’s Lawful Internet Gaming Act (LIGA) for the inclusion of a clause to allow the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) to sign contracts with other states’ regulators to share player pools.
However, the Michigan gaming regulator would be able to share online poker player pools only with those states where poker as well as tribal gaming operators enjoy legal status. It is not the first time that state policymakers are trying to make a change to share online poker player pools with other states. The option was included in earlier drafts of the LIGA, but state policymakers removed it because of a request by the state lottery officials.
After passing Senate floor vote, where the bill was approved with 389-36, the measures is also expected to pass state House vote. The measure’s sponsor, Senator Curtis Hertel Jr., says that he expects the measure to easily pass the House floor vote. However, the state House vote is not expected to take place until next month.
The main reason behind sharing player pool is to allow Michigan to create a quality poker ecosystem. In that case, traffic will come from Michigan as well as other states. It means, Michigan would enjoy a number of potential benefits, including large tournament numbers and continual cash.
However, it remains unclear as to which operator or operators would be offering services. Only one operator, namely partypoker, has revealed its plans related to offer the services. It has plans to launch its services in both Michigan and Pennsylvania sometime in the near future.
Officials expect the state to launch online casino, poker and sports betting services sometime in November this year. As per Hertel, SB 991 will likely reach the governor’s desk by the end of November. The House approval also doesn’t mean that player pooling would start immediately.
The Wire Act, which is presently involved in a federal court battle, could also leave the state of Michigan delaying interstate online poker even if state lawmakers grant in legal status. Interstate poker would be legal only if the Department of Justice (DOJ) is not able to change the Wire Act.
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