Michigan is the tenth largest state in the USA with nearly 10 million residents. It is ranked #11 in overall size, but nestled along the northern border to Canada. Michigan is also bordered by four out of the five great lakes in America. After WWII, Detroit had become the heart of the automotive industry in not just American, but for the entire world. During its heyday, Detroit was a culture for sports and arts, especially music. You cannot mention Detroit without bringing up Motown and its cultural impact on the world.
Michigan dominated American commerce in the middle of the 20th Century, but it fell into an economic depression in the last quarter of the century. Michigan, like many former rust belt states, fell upon hard times, but online gambling arrived in hopes of boosting the economy with jobs and giving its citizens a bit of hope and a chance to grind out a modest income, or at the least a bit of a side hustle.
Last year, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed a bill into law that allowed Michigan casinos to operate online gambling operations. Out of the 23 casinos in the state and on native sovereign lands, only nine brick and mortar casinos applied for online gambling licenses with three of them located in Detroit including the Greektown and MGM Detroit.
Those initial nine casinos were allowed to launch online gambling sites last week. And as of Friday, only one casino had been approved to run an online poker site.
PokerStars joined forces with the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians. Together, they were awarded a Michigan state gaming license to operate online poker. It's the first and only online poker operation in Michigan. The Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians also secured a sports betting license via PokerStars' sports betting vertical FoxBet.
PokerStars will launch their first online poker series in Michigan called… MICOOP. Stay tuned for details.
The legendary Greektown casino partnered with Barstool to provide sports betting for them. In the meantime, Greektown awaits approval for their online poker license. There's a well-known MGM property in Detroit as well. They're also waiting for an online poker license.
PokerStars had their turn-the-key operation ready to roll in Michigan. They had players sitting at low-stakes tables within hours of flipping the switch.
PokerStars is now live in three different states. It was already running in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. PokerStars hopes they can join player pools between Michigan, NJ, and Pennsylvania. Governor Whitmer signed a bill that would allow online operators to utilized pooled players with other states. The current law is pending other states to give the go ahead. As usual, New Jersey is a leader in the push for federal online gambling and they're interested in joining the shared player pool pact with any state. However, politicians in Pennsylvania are awaiting on a major ruling regarding the Wire Act. PokerStars went live in Pennsylvania in November 2019.
But if/when the three-state player pool happens, it will be another large step for PokerStars reclaiming their foothold into the American market. Baby steps. Three is better than just one, eh?
Hopefully, New York will be the next big state that takes a plunge into the online gambling and online poker realm. Governor Cuomo indicated he would love the potential tax revenue generated from legalized sports betting.