Since Michigan signed on to the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement in May, the state has been — at least theoretically — much more attractive to online poker operators.
There remain only two iPoker sites in the state for now, but a recent Rush Street Interactive (RSI) earnings call gave a strong hint as to who is likely to be the next to pull up a virtual chair at the table.
BetRivers, already with a mobile sportsbook and an online casino available to Michigan players, is putting the pieces in place to offer poker in Michigan, as well as in at least three other states — New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia — with an iCasino offering. All but Pennsylvania are part of agreements to allow players to compete against rounders in other states.
Shared in August, RSI’s investor presentation spelled out that its BetRivers network will be “adding poker content to engage an incremental player demographic to cross-sell to casino & sportsbook.”
Online poker was not specifically mentioned in the release RSI issued just prior to its second quarter earnings call, but CEO Richard Schwartz had poker on the brain during the call — on the heels of news that the company had completed its acquisition of Poker Night in America, a TV show Rush Street Productions has long produced.
“Poker Night has a strong following and a deep library of poker TV content and media creation capabilities that will help to further build out the BetRivers network and engage our target audience on an ongoing basis,” Schwartz said.
More to the point, he emphasized that “two quarters ago, we also purchased an online poker platform. Together, these two tuck-ins will position us well for when we eventually launch online poker.”
MI Bets contacted RSI for additional information, including a possible time frame for launch, but the public relations department said the company is not addressing the online poker topic at this time beyond what has been said on earnings calls.
PokerStars was the first poker site to go live in Michigan on Jan. 29, 2021, through a partnership with the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians. BetMGM Poker, through MGM Grand Detroit, launched on March 22, 2021.
BetRivers Sportsbook is available in 11 states, but online casino and online poker have seen regulation spread much more slowly than Michigan sports betting — despite nearly a five-year head start in terms of potential legality in a given state.