Could Michigan still legalize poker this year?

Proposed rules for online poker, sports betting and internet gaming have cleared committee in Michigan. Recently, The Joint Committee on Administrative Rules waived any remaining session days for the proposed rules for sports betting and internet gaming, allowing for a launch later this month.

Online poker and other online gambling including sports betting and casino games could be offered in the Wolverine State by the end of this year.

Last December, as soon as Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed a package of bills into law expanding gaming in the state, the launch of online gaming in the state was on the fast track. The expansion not only includes online poker in Michigan, but also online casino games, sports betting, and fantasy sports.

While the Michigan Gaming Control Board set launching internet gaming this year as a priority, the process has been on hold since October 8 when the Michigan Gaming Control Board submitted the regulations to The Joint Committee on Administrative Rules for final approval. Those regulations must be approved by the Joint Committee before the Gaming Control Board can begin issuing online gambling licenses.

“Everyone wants to get this thing going,” said State Senator Peter Lucido, Joint Committee chairperson. “This is something that, at this point, has been long overdue. It’s been done in other states. We’re losing tax opportunities.”

The Joint Committee on Administrative Rules had 15 session days to take action on the regulations, but now that those days are waived, internet poker and other forms of internet gambling can move ahead swiftly.

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Session Days are days when both the State Senate and the House of Representatives have “convened and recorded a quorum.” Thus far, only three session days have been recorded in Michigan since the online gambling regulations were submitted on October 8. But since the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules waives the remaining session days, the proposed rules effectively are allowed to move forward. Now, the Michigan Gaming Control Board has enough time to launch online poker and gambling by the end of this year.

“Now that we hear the waiver request has been approved, we are hopeful that online gambling and sports betting can start this year,” said Gaming Control Board spokesperson Mary Kay Bean.

Michigan Online Poker Rooms Launching Soon

Over the summer, the Michigan Gaming Control Board encouraged online gaming suppliers that wanted to participate in a coordinated initial launch to submit their applications by mid-August. While there were no guarantees that all applicants would be approved in time for launch, they would be in the queue.

Two poker websites that made the August deadline and are likely to have their online poker products approved for the initial launch later this year or early next year. Those poker sites are BetMGM and TSG Interactive US Services Limited. That means that PokerStars MI and partypoker MI will be available in the state very soon.

Oddly, Caesars Interactive Entertainment, the parent company of the World Series of Poker and the WSOP.com poker website, and 888 Holdings, the company providing the online poker software for WSOP.com, still have their applications pending. That calls into question whether 888 MI or WSOP MI will be included in the initial online gambling launch in Michigan.

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Will Michigan Poker Players Be Able to Play with Nevada and New Jersey Players?

A clause in the Michigan online gambling bills would have facilitated an interstate compact, however, it was removed at the last minute before the laws were passed.

The removal of the interstate gambling compact was intended for multi-state progressive slot jackpots. But Michigan state legislator Curtis Hertel Jr., has proposed a bill to add multi-state online poker to the state’s online gambling offerings.

Adding Pennsylvania and Michigan poker players, to those in Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware will certainly be a benefit to the US online poker market.