PokerStars is promising its Michigan players that short-term pain will be leading to long-term gain. The major supplier of online poker in the USA recently completed a software change that is now allowing shared pooling of players in both Michigan and New Jersey.
As part of this planned maintenance, PokerStars, PokerStars Casino and FOX Bet Sportsbook in both Michigan and New Jersey were shut down Dec. 12-13 in order to facilitate the upgrade of the PokerStars site to enable comingling of the New Jersey and Michigan pools.
The launch of the new site took place on Dec. 14. PokerStars described the change as a necessary milestone to be able to bring to players more games, bigger prize pools and guarantees in future poker tournaments, as well as many more tournaments in which to participate than in the past.
While the New Jersey and Michigan PokerStars sites remain as distinct entities, their combination is allowing for shared liquidity of their pools. The ability to make this happen is thanks to the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement (MSIGA), which was drawn up by state lawmakers to allow the co-mingling of poker pools. Michigan was the fourth state to join up for the MSIGA, following Delaware, Nevada and New Jersey.
“By joining, Michigan will almost double the potential pool of participants in multistate poker games,” Henry Williams, executive director of the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB), said in a statement.
Mixing the New Jersey and Michigan pools makes good business sense for PokerStars. They control significant market shares in both states. By combining their strong poker presence in both states into one united entity. This should further strengthen the bid by PokerStars to establish their brand as the preeminent online poker site in the USA.
Painted with a broader brush, this move by PokerStars to create shared liquidity between markets is likely to force rival poker sites to follow suit in order to keep pace. That lack of liquidity has been holding the US online poker industry from growing. Certainly, it’s to be expected that WSOP will be looking now to add Michigan to its existing New Jersey-Nevada-Delaware shared pool. As well, Pennsylvania may look upon this development as a sign that it’s time for their state to be joining the MSIGA.