West Virginia Joins Interstate Poker Pool, Could Finally See Market Launch
In a significant development for the U.S online poker scene, West Virginia has officially joined the poker world’s Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement (MSIGA).
The MSIGA is a pact between four states to share poker player pools, meaning more competition and bigger prizes for everyone.
This move, announced by the MSIGA and welcomed and approved by the West Virginia Lottery, could finally see a regulated poker room actually launch in the state.
It legalized online poker in 2019, but the state’s relatively small population has so far discouraged any national operators from entering the market. Regulators hope this decision to join the MSIGA will make West Virginia more attractive to poker operators.
“I am pleased that our West Virginia iGaming providers will now have the opportunity to offer multistate poker to our players,” said West Virginia Lottery Director John Myers in a press release.
“This will greatly increase the potential pool of participants, and thus allow our players to play for bigger winnings.”
Potential for Growth in Online Poker
West Virginia’s inclusion in MSIGA, which already counts Nevada, Delaware, New Jersey, and Michigan as members, opens doors for poker players to compete across state lines.
Despite legalizing online poker in early 2019, West Virginia had not seen the launch of a single site, partly because of concerns about the viability of ring-fenced operations in a small market.
This situation might soon change, as joining MSIGA increases the state’s attractiveness to major operators like PokerStars, WSOP, BetMGM Poker, and 888poker.
However, the journey towards an operational multistate online poker network in West Virginia is not finished just yet.
As per the latest updates, operators interested in offering multistate poker in the state must first jump through some hoops. Poker operators must submit a letter of intent to the Lottery Commission and secure approvals from the agreement’s members and West Virginia before launching their services in the state.
Context and Comparison with Other States
West Virginia’s move positions it as the fifth state in the MSIGA, joining after Michigan, which saw immediate impacts upon joining the player pool in 2023.
Contrastingly, Pennsylvania, despite having operational online poker, remains outside the compact. The state’s regulators have shown no urgency in joining MSIGA, despite its significantly larger population and potential player base compared to West Virginia.
The integration into MSIGA is expected to enhance the online poker experience by increasing field sizes in multitable tournaments, providing more game options for cash game players.
The state’s gamblers can already play casino video poker games at West Virginia online casinos, which have been active since 2020. So, it only makes sense that the state pushes for wider access to full online poker.
The MSIGA was signed by Delaware and Nevada poker sites in 2014, following the passing of Assembly Bills 113 and 360 in Nevada.
New Jersey poker operators joined the agreement in 2017, and in 2023, it expanded to Michigan. Now, or at least when an operator decides to join the market, West Virginia’s gamblers can get involved, too.
At the moment, six states have legalized online poker. Out of those, only Pennsylvania remains outside the compact, with no sign of that changing anytime soon.
U.S poker is seeing somewhat of a resurgence in 2023. This summer’s headline World Series of Poker tournament and the upcoming WPT World Championship have both seen record buy-ins.