Michigan governor approves interstate online poker bill
By Bob Garcia
Michigan will likely create player pooling agreements with other states before the summer
It’s not happening quickly, but states are showing the Department of Justice (DOJ) that they won’t cow to its definition of the US Wire Act. A handful of states, including New Jersey, Delaware and Nevada, have already entered online poker player pooling agreements in one form or another, and Michigan is now adding its name to that list. At the end of 2020, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed a bill that allows interstate online poker, which will launch as soon as the final details are put into place.
Senate Bill 991 (SB 991) made its first appearance last June, giving Michigan lawmakers a chance to weigh in on multijurisdictional access to online poker. The bill reads, in part, that the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) “may enter into agreements with other jurisdictions, including Indian tribes, to facilitate, administer, and regulate multijurisdictional internet gaming for poker by internet gaming operators to the extent that entering into the agreement is consistent with state and federal laws.” After making its rounds through the necessary legislative mazes, Whitmer signed it on December 30, and the rest is history.
For now, online poker will most likely be limited to in-state residents, due to a provision that requires a 90-day grace period before the state can enter agreements with other states. In addition to the other states involved in interstate online poker, Pennsylvania could join, but it has been hesitant because of the DOJ’s position on the Wire Act.
Several lawsuits condemning the DOJ over that position are still in the works and will probably need a year or two to find a resolution. In the meantime, however, more states are determined to be able to control their own future when it comes to revenue-generating activity.