PokerStars Becomes First Online Poker Room to Launch in Michigan

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Michigan license plates

Stars also launched sports betting, casino

In a surprise move, PokerStars has launched in Michigan, becoming the first online poker room to go live in the state. Michigan becomes just the fifth state to have at least one online poker room up and running, joining Nevada, Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.

flip the switch on all three verticals simultaneously

Along with poker, PokerStars also launched its online casino and FOX Bet sportsbook at 11am Friday. Stars was one of the few operators that did not go live last Friday, when Michigan’s online gambling industry enjoyed a massive, coordinated launch. It is likely that the company, a subsidiary of Flutter Entertainment, wanted to flip the switch on all three verticals simultaneously and thus waited for today.

PokerStars was the first operator to partner with a casino in Michigan, doing so with the Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians just two weeks after Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed the state’s gambling expansion bill in December 2019. It had already teamed with FOX Bet that spring.

In addition to the now one online poker room, there are ten online casino sites and 11 internet sports betting options in Michigan.

Rocky start, but improving

As sometimes happens, this morning’s launch did not go completely smoothly. The issues revolved around the two most important things for real money online poker players: depositing and software.

Upon going live, many payment options, including what should be the most popular ones in VISA, Mastercard, and PayPal, were not working. It does appear that as of this writing mid-afternoon on Friday, at least PayPal has been fixed. Other payment options include Skrill, VanillaDirect, paysafecard, and bank transfers.

customers ran into technical problems when trying to download the PokerStars client software

In addition, most prospective customers ran into technical problems when trying to download the PokerStars client software. Some were able to solve the issue by clearing their browser’s cache, while others received a download link from customer support. That obstacle seems to be resolved at this point, as downloads from PokerStarsMI.com are working.

Because of a combination of the technical difficulties, the lack of an official launch announcement, and the fact that PokerStars went live late on a Friday morning, there are very few players online at the moment. Currently, there are just 22 players at cash game tables, with two waiting for a spot in a $0.25/$0.50 No-Limit Hold’em game. A $5 tournament scheduled for 4pm has just three players registered, but it doesn’t start for an hour. Things should pick up as poker players get into their weekends.

Interstate player pooling could be coming

For now, Michiganders will have to be content playing against each other, as only those located within the state’s borders can play on PokerStars’ Michigan site. It is possible that that could change sometime this year, as Governor Whitmer signed SB 991 just before the New Year, permitting interstate online poker.

The Michigan Gaming Control Board has said that is has spoken with the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement about a team-up, so the ball has at least started to roll. PokerStars has a site in both New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Now that Stars has gone live in Michigan, all eyes are on WSOP.com and partypoker, both of which industry insiders believe will also launch in the state this year.

WSOP.com seems like a near certainty, as in its reveal of the WSOP Online Circuit Series schedule a couple weeks ago, the World Series of Poker said it plans to add another tour stop “pending launch of the WSOP.com service in a newly regulated market.” Many thought this would be Pennsylvania, but with PokerStars’ launch, the WSOP was probably hinting at Michigan.

partypoker, which is under the BetMGM umbrella in the United States, also operates in New Jersey. The partypoker US Network consists of NJ.PartyPoker.com, BetMGMPoker.com, and BorgataPoker.com. As the tenth-most populous state, Michigan would be a welcome addition to an interstate poker network.

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