The Wolf administration continues to monitor the impact of online gaming expansion in recent years on the gaming industry and residents of Pennsylvania, and continues to review the agreement.Michigan being invited to join the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement (MSIGA) this week, all eyes are now on Pennsylvania. To date, PA is the largest state to legalize online poker in the United States and has yet to join the interstate pact.
In an exclusive statement to PA Gaming Review just one day after the announcement of the Mitten State joining MSIGAPennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf’s administration appears to be moving away from the state’s previous stance that it needs more clarity on the Wire Act and, instead, is now considering following Michigan’s lead by joining the Multi-State Poker Pact.
“The Wolf administration continues to monitor the impact of the expansion of online gaming in recent years on the gaming industry and residents of Pennsylvania and continues to review the agreement,” the press secretary said. Elizabeth Rementer. Pennsylvania Gaming Review Thursday.
Previously, the state had taken a conservative approach to the prospect of joining the multistate poker pact, either offering no comment or indicating that it still wanted clarity around the Wire Act.
However, no such language materialized in the latest statement released by a key Wolf staffer. In fact, whether or not the state joins the pact is ultimately up to Governor Wolf himself and not regulators, a spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board said (PGCB) Told PA Gaming Review.
“The problem is not with us right now, but with the governor’s office, who should sign any multistate contract,” said Doug Harbach, director of communications for the PGCB at PA Gaming Review.
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Pennsylvania was cautious but could change its position
The Pennsylvania online poker market has been around for almost three years. Its iGaming law allows its state regulators to enter into an agreement with other states for the purposes of interstate gaming.
Even before launch, its state regulator, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) indicated that they were in talks with the current member states of the MSIGA.
However, the Justice Department’s reinterpretation of the Wire Act (DOJ) under the Trump administration in late 2018 – declaring that the law applies not only to sports betting, but also to online gambling and basically making interstate online poker illegal – stalled the process.
Since then the PGCB has naturally been quite cautious about the sharing of cash. But with the Wire Act becoming less of an obstacle thanks to a series of favorable rulings starting in 2019 and, more recently, IGT sue the Department of Justice (DOJ), it’s fair to say that Trump’s interpretation is of little concern to operators and regulators.
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Michigan joins the MSIGA Could open the floodgates for Interstate Poker’s US expansion
the [Multi-State Gaming Association] continues to be forward-thinking and welcomes the interest of other gaming jurisdictions in becoming party to the Accord.Michigan and the other three MSIGA Member States are certainly not worried about its implications, especially now that the Great Lakes State has been admitted to the agreement. This could very well serve as an example to other states such as Pennsylvania and even smaller states like West Virginia and Connecticut, where online poker is legalized but has yet to come online. WV, in fact, already expressed interest in joining such a pact last summer.
Joining Pennsylvania, along with Michigan, would be a game-changer for the online poker industry in the United States.
Of all the states that have legalized online poker in the United States to date, Pennsylvania is the largest in terms of population. It is home to almost 13 million people, the same number of people living in the three active MSIGA Member States – New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware – combined. Adding Michigan’s 10 million people brings the total to 23 million. If Pennsylvania joined, it would skyrocket to 36 million.
Merging player pools has been proven in multiple jurisdictions to result in increased revenue for operators, which ultimately provides higher taxes for state governments and regulators. Greater tax revenue could incentivize more states to legalize online poker, and ultimately more states would join the poker pact.
Shared liquidity also allows operators to give their customers a much better deal, distribute more games, and offer larger prize pools.
Rebecca Satterfield, Association Director and Head of Internet Gaming for the Delaware Lottery was clear in the joint press release that they wanted to extend the pact to as many states as possible.
“The Association continues to be forward-thinking and welcomes interest from other gaming jurisdictions in becoming parties to the Accord,” Satterfield said.
If Pennsylvania did join the pact, every poker operator in the US, including PokerStars and BetMGM, would be able to host a network spanning at least three states. WSOPon the other hand, which is the only network to take advantage of the existing pact, would be able to support a five-state-wide network.
Michigan has yet to “fully execute” the agreement. Once the review is complete, operators should receive explicit permission from MGCB to launch shared liquidity involving Michigan – both stages shouldn’t take very long to complete.
But the million dollar question is: When is Pennsylvania expected to join? It could take months, but Michigan’s joining was a crucial step towards creating a domino effect that could change the face of the entire US online poker market.