- US Online Poker
- US Online Casinos
- US Online Sports Betting
- FEATURE: Ontario Online Gambling
This is a developing story and may be updated.
Michigan poker players have a second poker option as of today, Mar. 22.
BetMGM, which is the early market leader in the Michigan online casino space, will launch its poker product in the afternoon. At the time of writing, there were unconfirmed rumors circulating that some last-minute issues might push the launch back a bit later in the week. However, BetMGM does seem to have gone forward with at least an open testing period, as the site is open for business and taking registrations.
“The launch of BetMGM Poker in Michigan fully rounds out our premier gaming portfolio in the state,” said BetMGM CEO Adam Greenblatt. “BetMGM’s sports betting and casino offerings have been met with incredible early success in Michigan and we’re thrilled to provide players with another exciting gaming option.”
This is the second state for BetMGM Poker, and the first in which it stands alone (at least for now). It launched in New Jersey in 2017 as a skin on the Partypoker Network.
Michiganders didn’t have a particularly long wait for online poker. Casinos and online sportsbooks had a synchronized launch on Jan. 21 this year. While no poker rooms were ready to go on day one, PokerStars went live the following week. That was a relief, as in Pennsylvania in 2019, there was a frustrating four-month delay between the arrival of online casinos and poker.
It’s interesting, though not unexpected, that BetMGM is preceding Partypoker into the Michigan online poker market.
Partypoker is owned by Entain, the European online gambling giant which forms half of BetMGM. The other half, of course, is MGM Resorts International, which provides market access and a customer database, as well as the brand.
Partypoker was once huge. In fact, in the early years of the poker boom, it was the largest operator in the world. Unlike PokerStars and Full Tilt, however, it ceased serving US customers when the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act passed in 2006. In doing to, it avoided the subsequent legal trouble its rivals found themselves in. However, the brand just no longer holds the same power it once did in the US.
BetMGM, on the other hand, is rapidly emerging as a market leader in the online casino space, including in Michigan. Though it only joined Partypoker’s New Jersey network four years into its operation, it looks as if Entain will be giving it priority in other states.
That includes Pennsylvania, which is once again playing a waiting game. BetMGM launched its casino and sportsbook there in December, and the poker product should be coming soon.
A third skin on the NJ network, Borgata Poker, is owned entirely by MGM Resorts. It launched a casino under that brand in Pennsylvania last month. There has, however, been no word about whether we can expect Borgata Poker in any states other than New Jersey.
Some additional good news for Android users is that BetMGM Poker will be available from the start on Google Play.
Policy changes by Google came into effect Mar. 1 which allowed gambling apps to be listed on the Play Store. Prior to that, users would have to download the app directly from the operator’s website. That led some users to be unable to find the app they wanted, or to be scared off by the need to change their device’s security settings.
Most US online gambling apps are still awaiting approval. DraftKings was first out of the gate, followed by BetMGM Poker. BetMGM’s integrated casino and sportsbook app hasn’t arrived yet, which seemed odd at first. It now makes sense in the light of today’s news that BetMGM would prioritize its poker app, given the importance of launch day availability.
As popular as PokerStars is, many players will be rejoicing to have an alternative. Consumers in general, but American consumers in particular, are unhappy when they don’t have a choice.
Until today, the New Jersey online poker market was the only one with more than a single option. PokerStars remains the only game in town for Pennsylvania, while WSOP holds a similar monopoly in Nevada.
WSOP may likewise expand its territory this year. If it does, that will probably include both Pennsylvania and Michigan.
A fourth operator might also appear on the scene. Word on the street has it that DraftKings is considering a move into the poker space.
Better still, the Michigan Gaming Control Board is in talks with the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement to begin traffic sharing between the two states. With a Michigan law making this expressly legal and the federal Wire Act battle nearly over, there should be few hurdles. MGCB Executive Director Richard Kalm has said he expects Michigan interstate poker to be possible by the end of the year.