PokerStars Combines MI + NJ Player Pools January 1, 2023
PokerStars announced that it would be combining the groups of players from its licensed online gaming rooms in Michigan and New Jersey. This will mark the first entry of a Michigan internet poker provider into the shared liquidity pool that is already active between Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey. The scheduled launch date for this shared online poker site traffic setup is January 1, 2023.
As of 2022, there were three signatories to the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement (MSIGA). Originally launched by Nevada and Delaware in 2014 and then joined by New Jersey in 2017, this interstate compact allows licensed online poker sites in participating states to pool their traffic across state lines to achieve greater number of players and larger games.
Although the prospect of shared liquidity raised hopes of a second poker boom in the United States, MSIGA’s impact was minimal. As it happens, there was only one operator that operated in more than one of the signatory countries: WSOP.com. This site saw an increase in traffic with the combined player groups, but all other state-regulated online poker rooms were unaffected.
In April 2022, Michigan was accepted as the fourth member of the treaty. Any hopes that its online poker rooms would soon join others across the country were dashed as month after month passed with no news.
PokerStars is ready to break new ground
After a scheduled outage on December 12th and 13th at PokerStars MI and NJ poker sites (specifically, the PokerStars Pennsylvania room had no such maintenance outage), PokerStarsUSA posted a tweet stating:
NJ & MI are up and running again! Watch this space for updates as we work to bring New Jersey and Michigan poker players together in the near future.
While a bit vague, this tweet nodded to the prospect of combined New Jersey and Michigan poker liquidity. In the following weeks, users began to notice “internal star testing” tournaments on PokerStars in both states, possibly in preparation for tournaments involving players from multiple jurisdictions.
On Friday, December 23, PokerStars ended the tension by confirming via a press release that he really combined his players from Michigan and New Jersey. In celebration of the holiday, the combined pool of players will have access to a special $100,000 guaranteed $100 buy-in tournament on January 1st at 6:00 PM ET, and then a $50,000 guaranteed MTT with a $10 buy-in will begin at 6:30 in the afternoon
US Managing Director of PokerStars, Severin Racette, had this to say:
The joining forces of Michigan and New Jersey is great news for our players in these two states and for poker more generally, as it promises a better experience and even greater value, all with the confidence provided by a trusted, licensed operator… Our community will experience more breadth and depth of games, more tournaments with bigger prizes to be won, enhanced promotions and more choice.
According to industry traffic tracking site GameIntel, PokerStars MI has an average of 180 concurrently active cash game players, while PS’s New Jersey division hosts an average of 90 cash game players. If these player numbers were combined into one pool, it would be enough to make PokerStars the largest state-regulated online poker site in both markets by a decent margin.
Hot on the heels of PokerStars?
While nothing definitive has yet been announced, it looks like rival BetMGM could be following in PokerStars’ footsteps. In November, BetMGM upgraded its New Jersey platform to bring it up to speed with its Michigan software, which was several generations newer. Then in early December, BetMGM added its SPINS Lottery SNG product in New Jersey, bringing it in line with BetMGM’s other regulated poker offerings in other states.
PokerStars’ other Michigan competitor, WSOP.com, by contrast, doesn’t appear to be making any moves toward combining its MI player base with those in other parts of the country. This is quite unusual considering that WSOP.com is the only operator with real experience running a multi-state internet poker site.
Will more countries join the treaty in the future?
There are several other states that have passed online poker legalization but have not yet joined MSIGA: Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Connecticut. West Virginia and Connecticut have yet to have regulated internet poker sites. Pennsylvania, however, is a more interesting case.
The same trio of sites are active in Pennsylvania as well as Michigan: PokerStars, BetMGM and WSOP.com. With a population of 13 million, Pennsylvania is larger than any other state that has joined the traffic sharing agreement. Michigan has only 10 million people, while New Jersey’s population is about 9.3 million. Delaware and Nevada are small in comparison.
In this way, the Keystone State can make a big difference in the effectiveness of MSIGA. Following Michigan’s accession to the Interstate Compact, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf is reportedly considering the merits of Pennsylvania joining the compact. However, nothing concrete has been heard from the governor’s office since then.
No need to wait for “Stars”.
As important as this news is to online poker players in Michigan and New Jersey, it doesn’t really matter to anyone else in any other state. Fortunately, they (and you) now have several prominent online poker sites to choose from. They are located offshore, where they do not have to comply with the requirements of government regulators to accept users from all over the world, including the United States.
To learn more about these organizations and how you can register accounts with them, check out this guide to US online poker. It is perfectly legal for you to play at these sites, as you will learn if you check out this page about the legality of online poker in America.