Online gambling in Michigan launches Friday; poker not quite yet

The wait will finally be over for gamblers in Michigan later this week. However, it looks like the wait will continue for poker players hoping to play online in the wolverine state.

Michigan state regulators announced earlier this week that nine casinos in the state will be allowed to launch their online gambling platforms on Friday, January 22 at noon. It is expected most of the nine casinos will immediately begin offering online casino games and online sports betting, but not online poker.

It’s been more than a year since Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed a bill that legalized online gambling in the state in December 2019. All three commercial casinos and the 23 tribal casinos in the state can apply for licenses to offer online gambling, but so far only nine have been approved. That number is expected to increase as regulators review and authorize more applications.

Why is online gambling in Michigan delayed for poker?

Despite the announcements that the nine casinos can go live with their online gambling platforms on Friday none are expected to launch online poker from the outset. Flutter, the parent company behind PokerStars, secured a partnership with the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians last year. However, the tribe was not along the first nine applicants to get the go ahead to launch on Friday, so their PokerStars platform won’t be online that day.

No other casino in Michigan that has been approved to launch on Friday has announced plans to offer online poker on that date.

If online gambling does launch without online poker being offered it will follow in the footsteps of a similar rollout that occurred in Pennsylvania. In Pennsylvania they passed a bill legalizing all forms of online gambling in 2017. Two years later online gambling launched in spring 2019 with online sports betting and online casino games. Online poker was delayed, and did not go live in Pennsylvania until PokerStars went online in November.