Michigan Assembly Passes Multi-State Online Poker Bill

The Michigan State Assembly has approved with an overwhelming majority a measure allowing the state to participate in multi-state player-pooling agreements with other US states that also offer regulated online poker.

By: Haley Hintze

The measure, HB 991, passed the state’s lower chamber on a lopsided 85-16 vote, with nine abstentions. HB 991 is an online-poker-only addendum of sorts to Michigan’s Lawful Internet Gaming Act, which passed in 2019 and authorized poker along with several other forms of online gambling.

The version of HB 991 that passed differs just slightly from the bill sent to the Assembly from the Michigan Senate. Though virtually identical, the Senate will need and is expected to reapprove the bill in the near future. Then the bill will be sent to Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer to be signed into law, which is also expected to occur.

Once signed into law, Michigan will have authorized itself to join the MultiState Internet Gaming Agreement (MIGA), which already includes New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware as participating states. The fourth US state to already offer legalized online poker, Pennsylvania, is also considering joining the multi-state compact.

Officials in both Michigan and Pennsylvania may hesitate just long enough for the US Supreme Court’s final ruling of the 1961 Wire Act, which once banned interstate transmission of gambling information but was ruled unconstitutional by a lower court. The Wire Act’s presumptive downfall has already opened the doors to legalized sports betting in a large number of US states.

Michigan has yet to launch any form of real-money online poker yet, though its debut is likely only weeks away. Earlier this month, state gaming regulators confirmed that several online sites awaiting approval to launch were still in the late stages of that process, quashing hopes that the debuts could occur before the end of the year. Michigan’s new online gambling laws dictate that at least two licensed casino operators -- one tribal and one commercial -- must be fully approved before any online site can launch.

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