PokerStars To Pool Online Poker Players In 2 Key Markets On Jan. 1
PokerStars has announced its New Jersey and Michigan online poker players will be able to compete against one another on Jan. 1, 2023. The launch is the culmination of Michigan joining the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement (MSIGA) in May.
With its entry, Michigan joins Nevada, Delaware, and New Jersey as MSIGA states.
In February 2014, Nevada and Delaware became the first states to form an interstate online poker agreement. The two states began pooling players 13 months later, in March 2015.
New Jersey joined the MSIGA in October 2017 and began pooling players just nine months later. Michigan’s time from joining to launch was also about nine months.
A Huge Boost for PokerStars
The linking of its Michigan and New Jersey online poker pools could propel PokerStars to the top of the U.S. online poker mountain. This will mark the first instance of shared liquidity in the U.S. online poker market for PokerStars. The company is effectively banned from operating in Nevada due to a tainted asset clause, and Delaware is a state-run monopoly, with the contract awarded to 888.
Because of the states involved, until now, only WSOP (888) has been able to take advantage of interstate player pooling. 888 has online poker monopolies in Nevada and Delaware, which has provided WSOP.com with a distinct advantage in the U.S. market. That will change with Michigan’s entry, but 888 will still possess a slight advantage with its Nevada online poker player base.
Simply adding the current player bases together puts PokerStars in pole position, according to data from PokerScout.com:
- WSOP MI and WSOP/888 US 7-Day average = 250 players
- PokerStars MI and NJ 7-Day average = 280 players
However, the added liquidity should result in PokerStars attracting new players in both markets (particularly New Jersey) and cannibalizing the competition. PokerStars is already advertising larger guarantees for its tournaments in both markets and will likely run major tournament series soon after pooling.
Depending on how long it takes WSOP.com and BetMGM to pool their Michigan online poker players with other states will be a significant factor in how big of an edge PokerStars has.
What Other Michigan Sites Will Pool Players?
As noted, PokerStars’ main rivals in the U.S. market are both active in Michigan, WSOP.com, and BetMGM. However, there is no word on when WSOP.com and BetMGM will combine their player bases in MSIGA states.
All Eyes on Pennsylvania
An even bigger question is when will other states join the MSIGA? Pennsylvania is the blue-chip prospect, but Connecticut and West Virginia are also waiting in the wings.
Pennsylvania online poker is up and running, but the Keystone State’s gaming regulators are perhaps the most cautious in the country, which has led to a very apathetic stance on interstate player pooling. However, a successful (read as uneventful) rollout in Michigan could push Pennsylvania closer to joining the MSIGA.
Further, if BetMGM is testing its interstate pooling capabilities for its Michigan launch, all the operators in Pennsylvania will have proven infrastructure. That would speed up the time from joining the MSIGA to combining Pennsylvania’s online poker players with other states.
Connecticut and West Virginia have legalized online poker, but because of their small populations, operators in the state are in no hurry to launch online poker sites. That said, if interstate pooling is on the table, operators in both states could quickly become interested.
West Virginia State Rep. Shawn Fluharty tweeted in November, “I predict we will indeed be off the sidelines,” in response to a Gambling.com article forecasting online poker developments in 2023.
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