MGCB Q&A With Bonus: Henry Williams on Michigan Online Poker, MSIGA

So far, Michigan online poker seems to be benefiting from the state entering the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement (MSIGA). PokerStars, which allowed its Michigan players to gamble with New Jersey bettors beginning on Jan. 1, is consistently seeing double-digit monthly revenue increases vs. the year before.

Henry Williams, the executive director of the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB), spoke to Bonus about the numbers yesterday. In January, the operator partnering with Michigan PokerStars reported a 17% year-over-year (YoY) increase in revenue. In the shorter month of February, it was 10%. Then in March, it rose again to 18% YoY.

While PokerStars isn’t the only Michigan online poker option and not even the most popular among Michigan gamblers, it is the only one taking advantage of MSIGA in Michigan. WSOP, the most popular site, does share traffic in Delaware, Nevada, and New Jersey.

At the moment, BetMGM Poker is siloed in each state in which it operates – including Michigan.

So Michigander online poker players who want to virtually cross state lines within games are using PokerStars.

Separating Out PokerStars

One of the challenges of measuring the success or failure of the Michigan online poker entrance into multi-state play is the MGCB doesn’t separate out skins in its revenue reports.

However, it’s pretty safe to say the Michigan online casino figures from the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians represent PokerStars. That’s because, on Dec. 28, 2022, the MGCB announced Odawa Online and platform partner The Stars Group (TSG) had “permission to launch multistate internet poker games in Michigan.”

So even though PokerStars parent, Dublin-based Flutter Entertainment (Flutter Entertainment 25,44 0,00%), operates FoxBet, PokerStars, and TVG through the tribe, all of the online casino and poker traffic on those apps ends up routed to PokerStars.

Meanwhile, Flutter’s other US brand, FanDuel Casino, is on another license.

In related news, 99.9% of Flutter shareholders voted today to add a future US stock listing, primarily due to FanDuel’s success in the States.

In the Words of Henry Williams

Williams talks to Bonus about how well multistate poker is going. Granted, considering the MGCB spent years trying to coordinate multistate online poker play, three months of revenue figures from one site may feel a bit early to declare a trend.

So below, the sentences in bold are questions from Bonus and the answers are from Williams, presented verbatim.

Can you talk about online poker revenue and traffic increases?

Michigan internet gaming results have set and broken state records in two of the first three months of the year. January receipts set a record, which was broken two months later in March. Internet gaming adjusted gross receipts were $426.3 million for the first quarter of 2023, compared with $338.3 million reported for First Quarter 2022, which means the state received more tax revenue this year during the first quarter. The MGCB does not break down its reporting by specific types of internet gaming.

Michigan also saw year-over-year growth in March from the market leaders in internet gaming. BetMGM, FanDuel, and DraftKings have led consistently in internet gaming traffic in Michigan, and they were the leading internet gaming providers during March:

  • MGM Grand Detroit and platform provider BetMGM, $56.24 million in gross receipts (compared with $47.89 million in March 2022)
  • Motor City Casino and platform provider FanDuel, $34.16 million in gross receipts (compared with $22.47 million in March 2022)
  • Bay Mills Indian Community and platform provider DraftKings, $31.6 million in gross receipts (compared with $20.74 million in March 2022)

Currently, Odawa Online and platform partner The Stars Group alone offer multistate internet poker, which launched on Jan. 1, 2023. The MGCB reported the following internet gaming gross receipts for the first three months of 2023:

  • January: $153.69 million, which was a Michigan record up to that time
  • February: $148.17 million
  • March: $171.8 million, a Michigan record surpassing the record set in January

However, the agency does not report internet gaming gross receipts by type of game. The Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians reported the following gross receipts in the first three months of 2023:

  • January: $3.64 million
  • February: $2.89 million
  • March: $3.06 million

In the first three months of 2022, the tribe reported slightly lower gross receipts:

  • January: $3.1 million
  • February: $2.62 million
  • March: $2.6 million

Again, these are gross numbers, which are not broken down by type of gaming.

Are more operators planning to do so? When?

The Michigan Gaming Control Board does not discuss pending or possible pending applications. The MGCB will announce any additional gaming opportunities only after an applicant is approved.

About the Author

Heather Fletcher

Heather Fletcher

Heather Fletcher is Lead Writer at Bonus, concentrating on online casino coverage. She specializes in breaking news, legislative coverage, and gambling marketing strategy overviews. To reach Heather with a news tip, email [email protected].
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