The US online poker market received some nice news in two legal states last week. The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) approved 888 Holdings for an interactive manufacturer’s gaming license in the state on Wednesday.
888 approval moves PA closer to second poker operator
WSOP.com makes use of 888 software in Nevada and New Jersey. Those two states, as well as 888poker in New Jersey and Delaware, also make up the country’s only shared liquidity compact.
PokerStars may soon have competition
The entrance of 888/WSOP.com means a competitor to PokerStars in the Keystone State. Stars launched in November 2019 and remains the only operator in the state so far.
Michigan and West Virginia have also legalized online poker and other forms of iGaming, including sports betting. While online poker hasn’t launched in either yet, casino gaming recently launched in WV.
Because of that, a WSOP.com/888 entrance into the PA market would face the same obstacle. Like Stars, 888poker would offer a “fenced-in” market until the compact issue is resolved.
Michigan moves closer to approving interstate compacts
While Michigan remains in the licensing and approval stage, the state also made some news last week. The future of interstate online gaming compacts remain tied up in court because of the Department of Justice’s changing view on the Wire Act.
The DOJ now argues that it applies to other forms of gambling other than sports betting. That view has been a hindrance to the industry.
However, that didn’t stop the Michigan Senate from moving forward on allowing interstate compacts. The body approved Senate Bill 991 in a vote of 389-36.
As Online Poker Report notes, the bill “amends last year’s Lawful Internet Gaming Act (LIGA) to add a clause permitting the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) to enter into compacts for purposes of online poker with regulators in other states, as well as with tribal gaming authorities.”
Bill sponsor Sen. Curtis Hertel Jr. (D) expects the House will also approve but won’t vote on the issue until November.
“I think the bill is a common-sense thing all agreed to and it should move on,” Hertel told Pay Michigan. “I don’t think there’s any controversy. How fast, I don’t know. I don’t think it will be before the election. Probably right after.”
Online poker gains some momentum
The Wire Act issue is currently in federal appeals court after the Delaware lottery won the first round in court. A positive ruling for the gaming industry might also spur more states to get on board.
At least for now, the Michigan and Pennsylvania news offer hope that things are moving in the right direction.