With the first real money poker games expected to be only a few weeks away, PokerNews looked at the list of applicants for a gaming license in Michigan to understand what we can expect to see when the market opens.
The state of Michigan legalized online poker back in December 2019, when Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed the House Bill No. 4311.
The package, now referred to as Michigan’s Lawful Internet Gaming Act, opened the state’s door to online poker, online casino gambling, sports betting, and daily fantasy sports, putting the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) in control of all the operations.
Since then, almost 50 gambling operators applied for a license. While not all these companies are expected to launch an online poker site, the list of applicants gives us a good idea of what to expect for the upcoming Michigan poker market.
PokerStars MI: Yes
The world’s largest online poker site is expected to start offering real money poker games in Michigan from day one.
The Stars Group inked a deal with the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians Gaming Authority back in January and it has been preparing the launch of real money poker, casino, and betting products since then.
While we expect the group to enter the sports betting and online casino arena with the FOXBet and FanDuel brands, we have no doubts that all their poker operations will be funneled through the upcoming PokerStars MI.
partypoker MI: Yes
The ongoing battle between PokerStars and partypoker for a leadership position in the U.S. poker market is not going to stop anytime soon, as partypoker will operate shoulder-to-shoulder with PokerStars also in Michigan.
To secure an early start in the state, Roar Digital (the company that runs partypoker’s operations in the United States) signed a partnership agreement with the MGM Grand Detroit. We expect this to result in a product that will gain the ‘party‘ brand, earning it a significant presence in both the poker and the casino markets in the process.
The launch of a partypoker MI product alongside PokerStars replicates the same scenario that we have seen New Jersey, where the two hold the biggest market shares and continue to battle for the acquisition of new players with massive online tournament series and promotions.
If New Jersey is any indication of how things could go in Michigan, it is safe to assume that ROAR/party will start their operations in the state with a series of aggressive acquisition campaigns that will try to put the brand ahead of PokerStars from the outset.
888poker MI: No
The list of applicants to offer online poker games in the state of Michigan does not include 888poker.
The Israel-based gaming giant does not appear to have entered into an agreement with any of the land-based casinos in the state and is therefore not expected to launch in Michigan in the immediate future.
Caesars Interactive Entertainment (CIE), the company that runs the WSOP.com poker site is also not on the list of those expected to get an early start in Michigan.
While the WSOP.com poker software might not be as popular or appreciated as those of PokerStars and partypoker, the absence of the WSOP.com brand in Michigan is one that players are going to feel — especially if 2021 will bring us another online edition of the World Series of Poker.
GGPoker MI: No
While we wouldn’t be surprised to see the GGPoker brand launch and grow in popularity in the United States sometimes soon, we know this isn’t going to start in Michigan.
The up-and-coming poker site that changed online poker in 2020 with the launch of the online World Series of Poker and lots of innovative features is quieter than quiet when it comes to their U.S. plans.
GGpoker is not on the list of the upcoming MI poker sites and is not active in any other American state.
The list of applicants interested in securing a Michigan gaming license includes more names that might sound familiar to poker players.
None of these, however, seem to be interested in launching an online poker site in the state.
- William Hill applied for a license via a company named American Wagering Inc. and it is expected to launch an online sportsbook as part of the group’s expansion in the United States.
- Betfair applied for a license via the Betfair Interactive US LLC and is expected to enter the market with an online sportsbook.
The list of other notable applicants includes also the likes of DraftKings, SugarHouse, Barstool, BetMGM, and Scientific Games.