Pools for legal online poker games in the United States may get busier in the near future. West Virginia, one of seven US states with legal real-money online casino play, has joined an interstate compact that could allow players within its borders to play against people in other states.
West Virginia signing on to the compact is an important but preliminary step toward making that a reality. How soon and whether West Virginians will actually enter those pools is a matter of commercial interest now.
Multistate Internet Gaming Association expands with WV Lottery
The Multistate Internet Gaming Association (MIGA) is a consortium of now five states’ gambling regulatory bodies that exists to administer the agreement between its members. Its sole purpose is to facilitate regulated online gambling in those states.
MIGA is not a regulatory body or a gambling licensee in any of its member states. A good way to think of MIGA is a moderator between the various gaming regulatory bodies in the five states that belong to the association.
Those member regulatory bodies are:
- Delaware Lottery
- Michigan Gaming Control Board
- Nevada Gaming Control Board
- New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement
- West Virginia Lottery
All of those individual governing bodies regulate online poker in their respective states. That’s something the West Virginia Lottery could soon tackle, if any operators are interested in anteing up.
Timetable for West Virginia online poker is unclear
Currently, none of the major online poker operators in the US accept players in West Virginia. According to a press release from MIGA, interested parties will have to obtain approval from its members, especially the West Virginia Lottery, to do so.
Although the five members states agree to the rules for player pools, the landscape of existing online poker differs from state to state. For example, players in Michigan have a choice of BetMGM Poker, PokerStars, or WSOP.com.
Meanwhile, Delaware players have a single option for online poker with players having access to WSOP.com interstate pools.
In Nevada, WSOP.com is similarly the only choice for interstate play. New Jersey players are akin to their Michigan counterparts when it comes to having a triumvirate of choices. At this point, none of the three mentioned online poker operators have publicly expressed interest in West Virginia.
All three may not find it difficult to gain approval to ramp up in the state. BetMGM Poker, PokerStars, and WSOP.com all have existing online casino counterparts currently operating in West Virginia:
- BetMGM Casino
- Caesars Palace online casino
- FanDuel Casino
West Virginia’s entry into MIGA was a necessary step before those conversations could begin. With its entry, MIGA now includes all but two of the states where legal real-money online casino play is currently active.
It could be years before that number increases again.
Connecticut, Pennsylvania laws do not allow interstate gaming pools
In Connecticut, the case for allowing players to join interstate pools is open and shut. Current state law does not allow for such gaming. The state legislature would have to act in order to remedy that situation.
The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation and the Mohegan Tribe control online gambling in Connecticut. They could ask the legislature to act on interstate poker like they have in the past with other forms of online gambling. That seems unlikely to happen soon, though.
In October, Mashantucket Pequot Chairman Rodney Butler told PlayUSA that the issue is likely the scale of the interest in Connecticut due to the state’s small population. Essentially, the two tribal casino operators would have to feel that it was worth the expense.
In Pennsylvania, the situation is less cut and dry. BetMGM Poker, PokerStars, and WSOP.com all currently offer games in Pennsylvania. However, those games bear a restriction to Pennsylvania-only players. The primary reason is that Pennsylvania is not a member of MIGA.
There doesn’t seem to be much pressure for Pennsylvania’s Gaming Control Board to join MIGA right now, either. However, West Virginia joining the fold could increase that.
For poker players in West Virginia, waiting for more announcements on this front probably feels like waiting for the flop.