A nugget of information was revealed when the World Series of Poker released its 2023 schedule last week: WSOP.com will not connect its Michigan players to its interstate network before the Series in Las Vegas begins.
How do we know? WSOP.com in Michigan will have its own stripped-down bracelet Series.
This means WSOP.com will be at least a half-year behind PokerStars, who connected its Michigan players to its players in New Jersey New Years Day, the first site to take advantage of Michigan joining the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement (MSIGA).
In fact, this is PokerStars’ first multi-state network in the US since the online poker industry was intentionally destroyed by Congress with the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006, which lead to Black Friday and the fragmented situation American online poker players now find themselves in.
So instead of being able to compete for 20 bracelets this year, players in Michigan will only get to play for seven, with much lower buy-ins and prize pools. It’s the same for players in Pennsylvania, which remains the only state that WSOP.com operates in that isn’t a member of MSIGA.
And here’s the 2023 schedule for online bracelet events for the shared market of New Jersey/Nevada. A little beefier, wouldn’t you say?
The online championship alone costs more than if a player in Michigan or Pennsylvania entered all the bracelet events. Heck, the online Series on the shared network nearly has as many four-figure buy-in events (six) than the entire schedule of Pennsylvania and Michigan.
But remember, many of the players and professional assassins that will make Las Vegas their home for a few months this summer to play in live events, will also have their phones and computers loaded with WSOP.com to compete online. So this will most likely be the last time for Michiganders to play solely against themselves for a WSOP bracelet. That’s a plus for the amateurs, even if they’re playing for much less money.
Why MSIGA is important for American poker players
MSIGA currently counts four states as members: New Jersey, Nevada, Delaware, and Michigan. Michigan is the first state to join the founding members, but more will most likely follow. When and who are the $100K questions.
The most likely candidates are West Virginia, which has inquired about becoming a member, and Connecticut and Pennsylvania, which have not. West Virginia and Connecticut are the only two states that allow its casinos to open online poker rooms, but have none.
The reason these two small states do not have online rooms comes down to simple numbers. The operators, like PokerStars’ parent Flutter, do not think there are enough players in these states to sustain healthy and profitable online rooms. Instead, online sports betting and casino gambling remains the focus of these large multi-level gambling corporations.
The only way the online poker giants might open rooms in smaller states is if they can put the players on one platform across state lines, which is exactly what MSIGA allows.
So while politicians in other states with smaller populations are attempting to legalize and regulate online poker (looking at you, Kentucky), without being able to share player’s pools across state borders, online sites most likely won’t have the financial motivation to open — especially with a vast majority of their money is made through sports betting and slots.
And here’s the thing: The gears of bureaucracy truly do spin as if they are coated in molasses, so it’s going to take more than a few years for more states to not only legalize online poker, but to also join MSIGA. So while online poker fans in states like West Virginia sit and wait in a sort of online poker purgatory, they can only hope their representatives will get moving and start the process of allowing them to play against Americans in other states.