888 holdings and Caesars Interactive Entertainment (CIE) have officially confirmed a multi-year extension of their partnership for the US market. The agreement specifically includes the provision of the online poker software client for the World Series of Poker (WSOP) Brand.
The exclusive B2B poker partnership with CIE According to the Senior Vice President – Head of USA for 888 Yaniv Sherman: 888 plans to enter new regulated markets:
"Our expanded relationship will also enable 888 to have a presence in the new US states after the required regulatory approvals, which is an important opportunity for our long-term development strategy for the US market."
The first B2B poker partnership between 888 and CIE dates from 2013. From 2014 888poker was also the official sponsor of the WSOP Live festival in Las Vegas and has been for six years in a row.
“Our partnership with Caesars has fueled the very popular population WSOP Brand online since 2013 and we look forward to continuing this relationship for many years, ”added Sherman in the press release.
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New Poker 8 software to power WSOP.com
The agreement includes the introduction of the new and innovative Poker 8 customer to the US market. The latest software client was launched in Europe in October 2020 and represents a major overhaul in terms of functionality and graphics for the mobile and desktop version.
888 launched major promotions in late 2020 to celebrate the launch of its new one Poker 8 Software client for all relevant markets. The Made to play In the mobile app, for example, prizes of $ 1 million were awarded through freerolls, happy hours, gift drops and more.
Important features such as multi-day and multi-flight tournaments will finally be available to US players WSOP.com Poker client. 888 will continue to provide the casino platform for CIE's casino brands.
888poker currently operates the WSOP.com customer in the states of Nevada and New Jersey. CIE also has a license to operate in Pennsylvania, which was highlighted in the news release. So far, PokerStars PA remains the only operator in the Pennsylvania online poker Market.
However, the addition of a second competitor now appears more likely, as suggested by Sherman.
"We are also excited about the prospect of adding new states to our unique interstate poker network in 2021 and beyond, which we believe would significantly increase liquidity for poker players on the 888 platform."
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888 and WSOP Offering online poker in Michigan?
Neither 888 nor CIE were included in the first batch of approved igaming operators by the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB). Rapid progress after the Christmas break resulted in approval from nine operators on January 19, 2021.
Online sports betting and Online casino games will be allowed in Michigan from Friday, January 22nd, noon. Brands included in the first batch are DraftKings, FanDuel, William Hill, and BetMGM (in partnership with Roar Digital GMBH), among other.
It is currently unclear whether an operator will be offering online poker for the first time. Pennsylvania was the last state to start online gaming in 2019, and there online poker lagged behind online sports betting and online casino games.
Any reference from the press release announcing the extension of the partnership between 888 and 888 WSOP Parent company CIE points out that the couple plans to aggressively expand their multi-state online poker network in 2021.
Shared liquidity in the US
888 currently offers its online poker software in Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey which is the only cross-border liquidity sharing pool in the US.
Delaware players share the regular cash game and MTT Traffic with the other two states thanks to the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement (MSIGA). However, they are currently excluded from the WSOP Online bracelet and circuit ring events due to the lack of the WSOP Brand in the state.
Further international expansion through joint liquidity networks is currently in a state of uncertainty. In particular, the changed attitude of the Ministry of Justice (DOJ) Opinion of Wire Act has played a crucial role in the failure to expand shared liquidity in the US.
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In 2011 the DOJ issued a statement in which the prohibited interstate wagering set out in the Wire Act only applied to sports betting. That attitude changed in 2018 when the Trump administration reinterpreted the Wire Act to apply it to all forms of gambling, including casino games, poker, and lottery. However, this is likely to change again with the imminent arrival of the new Biden government.
A seemingly clear path for the expansion of multi-state online poker still requires additional steps. For example, although the partypoker US Network is already set up for a common market with New Jersey if they started in Nevada. It is unlikely that the operator would expand to just a sparsely populated state without the potential to expand into more highly populated states as well.
PokerStars NJ could combine its player pool with its Pennsylvania counterpart as soon as the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) allowed, but the regulator will check that federal law is set on the matter before proceeding.
Until the Wire Act case is resolved, the state of Michigan could join MSIGA, allowing operators to share liquidity with their operations in other states.
So far, the upcoming Wolverine State launch will likely only include sports betting and online casino games. Poker is likely to follow shortly, however, and the launch of Igaming in Michigan can certainly be seen as a promising sign of a growing regulated US online poker industry.