Tucked into the middle of BetMGM’s presentation to investors on Dec. 4 was a bit of news many US online poker players have been waiting for: multi-state shared liquidity for BetMGM Poker is now “imminent.”
At a minimum, that means that BetMGM Poker players in Michigan and New Jersey will soon be playing against one another. PokerStars is the only other site currently sharing traffic between those two states.
Meanwhile, WSOP shares traffic between Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware but is about to lose the latter state. It has access to Delaware through its software provider, 888, which has lost its contract with the state lottery to Rush Street Interactive.
That would leave all three networks spanning just two states apiece.
BetMGM Poker Has the Greatest Potential for Expansion
Although BetMGM has the least traffic of the three US poker operators, it has the best potential for multi-state poker networking. As things stand, it could add West Virginia or Nevada to its network if it launched a site there. It already operates an online casino in West Virginia and has been squatting on an unused iGaming license in Nevada.
There are no West Virginia online poker sites at the moment, but that’s because the state is too small on its own to support one. However, it joined the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement (MSIGA) in November, paving the way for a shared network. Any of the three operators could launch one there, but the timing of BetMGM’s announcement suggests this might have been the moment it was waiting for.
Meanwhile, both its competitors have issues in at least one state. Nevada regulators consider PokerStars to be a “bad actor” due to its activities in the US between 2006 and 2011, so it is ineligible for a license there. WSOP operates on a newer version of 888’s software in Michigan than in the other states and has yet to make the necessary platform migration in New Jersey and Nevada. This would potentially be a problem for a hypothetical WSOP West Virginia as well.
How Would a Four-State BetMGM Poker Compare?
The player-vs.-player nature of online poker means size is much more of a selling point than it is for casino and sports betting sites. Becoming the biggest network in the US wouldn’t just be a brag for investors, but something meaningful to players as well.
It’s not clear at a glance whether networking all four of its potential states would secure that title for BetMGM Poker. It’s certainly possible though. At the moment, its single-state sites all have less traffic than its competitors’ networks. But just linking NJ and MI could put it ahead of PokerStars.
Overtaking WSOP would depend on how much the loss of Delaware hurts WSOP, and how much extra traffic BetMGM could find in West Virginia and Nevada. They have small populations—particularly West Virginia—but Las Vegas is a Mecca for poker players. Holding monopoly in West Virginia could also benefit whoever is willing to take the risk, especially if the addition of rookie players to the pool is attractive to more experienced players in other states.