PokerStars has experienced a strong start in interstate online poker after pooling its players in Michigan and New Jersey. [Image: Shutterstock.com]
A strong start
The move by PokerStars to combine its player pools in New Jersey and Michigan has proven to be a success so far. The Flutter Entertainment-owned online poker brand launched the network on New Year’s Day, representing the brand’s first shared liquidity cross-border network outside of Europe.
more than 400 concurrent seats being filled
Early reports are encouraging, with more than 400 concurrent seats being filled on the network. If accurate, this would make it the network with the best liquidity in the US market at the moment.
Not a lot of hype or fanfare was seen with the launch of the new network. Players have access to a full range of tournaments, sit and gos, and cash tables. There is also now a significantly larger schedule of tournaments and the guaranteed prizes are a lot bigger.
First of its kind
PokerStars got approval from the respective regulators in Michigan and New Jersey in the days leading up to Christmas to go ahead with the network. It is the first time that a poker site operator has pooled players between New Jersey and Michigan. This is a welcomed move, as there is a sizeable player pool in Michigan.
The idea behind sharing liquidity between different jurisdictions is to attract higher numbers of players and increase competition across the board.
The only other online poker site operator that has a shared liquidity network in the US is WSOP through its partnership with 888. This network connects players in Delaware, Nevada, and New Jersey. Popular poker site operators like WSOP and BetMGM have yet to get regulatory approval to share liquidity between their Michigan offerings with other states.
Growing slowly but surely
Online poker is currently up and running in five states: Michigan, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, and Nevada. It is legal in West Virginia and Connecticut, but neither actually have online poker rooms. Pennsylvania is the only significant state that does not share any liquidity with others.
It is still a question as to whether or not more states will start to embrace online poker. Over 30 states have legalized sports betting in recent years and online casinos are available in numerous states. These types of platforms often prove to be good revenue drivers for state governments through license fees and taxes. Online poker is different, though, as it tends to produce lower revenue, and the player-versus-player dynamic often makes for more technological and regulatory hurdles.