House Committee Hearing On Michigan Interstate Online Poker Bill Postponed

A piece of legislation that would allow the state of Michigan to enter into liquidity sharing compacts for online poker sites will not have a hearing Thursday afternoon.

The bill, SB 991, was set to be discussed during a meeting by the House Committee on Regulatory Reform. However, the hearing has been postponed. SB 991 was one of more than a dozen bills on the agenda. It was the only gaming-related bill on the schedule.

Discussion of the bill will be held at a later date. The clerk for the committee told MI Bets that they were unaware of when the postponed hearing will be held.

While policymakers take a look at the interstate online poker bill, the Michigan Gaming Control Board is currently moving fast to allow the first online gambling platforms to kick off in December or January. Michigan will have three forms of online gambling: sportsbooks, casinos, and poker rooms.

Online poker timetable unclear

It’s unclear whether online poker will kick off right out of the gate. It took a handful of months in Pennsylvania for online poker to join the equation after both online sports betting and online casino kicked off. The first Michigan online poker site is likely to be PokerStars.

If SB 991 becomes law in 2020, it could still be quite some time before Michigan and another state share their respective online poker player pools. Pennsylvania, for example, still hasn’t entered into any liquidity sharing arrangements despite its 2017 gambling expansion law allowing it. Currently, only Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware have a liquidity sharing set up for digital poker games.

The multi-jurisdictional internet poker proposal was filed in June, about six months after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed bills to legalize a full slate of online gambling options. Interstate online poker wasn’t included in the Lawful Internet Gaming Act, so SB 991 was introduced to fill that hole.

When Sen. Chris Hertel introduced the bill, he told MI Bets that he believed the omission of interstate poker language from the law had been an error. “I believe it was an unintentional problem that was created by an oversight in the drafting and negotiating process,” he said.

“It’s a fairly simple fix, but I think it’s important, too,” he added.

The bill cleared the Senate Regulatory Reform Committee in September, and the following month the Senate approved it by a 36-1 vote.

SB 991 needs to clear the House in order to make it to Whitmer’s desk.

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