January 8, 2020 3 min read


PokerStars Arrives in Michigan Through Local Partnership

After a prolonged legalization process, Michigan finally welcomes PokerStars as its newest digital card room opportunity. The Stars Group brand has teamed up with the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians Gaming Authority.

PokerStars Enters Michigan’s Market

One of the latest developments in the gambling industry in the US, in the aftermath of the 2018 US Supreme Court decision to remove the federal ban for online poker and gambling thus letting every state decide for itself, was the announcement that PokerStars, in a partnership with an Indian tribe, have agreed to enter the Michigan Market.

And all this less than a month ago after Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer passed a package of bills to complete a U-turn on her predecessor and approve sports betting and online gambling, making the state the sixth to legalize internet gambling.

Of course, part of that package was the increase of taxes for online poker and casino operators who will now have to pay between 20% and 28%, depending on their revenue, with sports betting being taxed at 8.4% – all these tax rate hikes with the idea to offset the supposed negative effect on the state lottery.

In a recent announcement by The Stars Group Inc., an agreement with Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians Gaming Authority gives them first skin access to operate and brand real-money online betting, poker and casino in Michigan, subject to license availability, state law and regulatory approvals.

Will PokerStars and Odawa Deal Amount to Shared-liquidity?

Under the terms of the agreement, Odawa will receive a revenue share from the operation of the applicable online offerings by The Stars Group, while the latter will provide the state’s population of almost 10 million people with casino games, from poker to sports betting along with blackjack and other table games.

Though PokerStars is the largest online poker operator in the world, with regards to the US it has been present only in New Jersey so far, with the State of Michigan becoming the second one in an attempt to enlarge their presence.

But there is a drawback, though: residents of the Wolverine State will have access only to PokerStars local state platform, the way New Jersey players can participate only in their local one, as no access to the PokerStars global platform will be granted.

Whether both local state platforms will be integrated to form a massive base for liquidity is still unclear as there is an ongoing legal action surrounding the Department of Justice (DOJ) appeal regarding the latest interpretations of the 1961 Wire Act that leave online poker in a state of limbo.

Nevertheless, the current developments emphasize the social role of the online gambling industry and show that there can be situations in which all parties involved win:

  • the State Government increasing the expected tax income, giving them the opportunity to allocate funds into other areas of concern;
  •  the online operator enlarging their presence and customer base by gaining access to new markets, with the strong idea of integration further down the road, and;
  •  customers, being granted first class services and entertainment and real value for their money.

No doubt there will be other online operators to follow in the footsteps of PokerStars, provided that other states consider the benefits of legalizing online gambling.


Simon is a freelance writer who specializes in gambling news and has been an author in the poker/casino scene for 10+ years. He brings valuable knowledge to the team and a different perspective, especially as a casual casino player.

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