Governor, lottery still pushing back on expanded gambling

Will Michigan Share Online Poker Liquidity With Other States?

Key lawmakers in Michigan are pushing for shared online poker liquidity, but proponents face staunch opposition from the state lottery.

Speaking on an ICE North America digital panel on Monday, state Rep. Brandt Iden said interstate online gambling was being discussed as part of the ongoing rule-making process.

“I’d personally like to see that,” Iden said. “We know bigger jackpots bring in more players and create excitement in the marketplace.”

Pushback on shared liquidity in Michigan

According to Iden, the current administration opposed the idea for fear of cannibalizing the thriving Michigan online lottery.

“The issue is the same reason it took four-and-a-half years for me to get this law passed in the first place,” Iden said. “It’s that the administration and our governor believe bigger jackpots could pull dollars and players from iLottery.”

The Representative said he disagreed with that view and that a “rising tide would lift all ships.”

MI online poker outlook still uncertain

As for the likelihood of shared liquidity in Michigan, Iden was somewhat vague.

“Unfortunately that might not be the case,” he said, “but it is something I am pushing for. I hope we see that in Michigan.”

Three US states currently share online poker liquidity: New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware. It also appears that West Virginia will eventually authorize multi-state poker, possibly alongside Pennsylvania.

US online poker revenue has soared since the majority of sporting events were canceled due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Michigan on the fast track to online gambling

Elsewhere on the ICE panel, Iden reiterated plans to get MI online gambling and online sports betting started this year in his state.

The Michigan Gaming Control Board sent draft regs for both verticals to interested parties earlier this month. And even without emergency regulations, both markets could be live by November thanks to provisional licensing.

Iden, however, warned that an expedited launch could have unintended consequences. Specifically, it could impact firms working toward the original 2021 launch date.

“You run into a situation where you’re actually going to be at a competitive disadvantage if you’re one of those operators who was taking the time to build out the platform,” Iden said. “And in fact, they may not foot the investment into Michigan that we originally anticipated.”

Amid the ongoing tension, Michigan is still hoping to get both segments live this year to help make up revenue shortfalls for the city of Detroit and the wider state.

- Brad has been covering the online gambling industry in Europe and the US for more than four years, most recently as the news editor at EGR Global.
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