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West Virginia Joins 4 Other States in the Online Poker Pool Party

State Capitol building Charleston West Virginia general view
General view of the West Virginia State Capitol building in Charleston, West Virginia. Image used with illustrative purposes. West Virginia Legislature Facebook profile.

West Virginia now becomes the fifth state to join the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement which allows players in those states to play online poker with each other, increasing the number of players and the prize amounts.

The More the Merrier

West Virginia’s population is less than 1.8 million which makes it the 39th largest state in the nation, or the 11th smallest depending on one’s perspective. When one considers the small fraction of that amount that would be inclined to enter an online poker game with complete strangers, the potential pool of players has proven to be too small to attract the major online poker sites including PokerStars, WSOP, BetMGM Poker, and 888poker.

But that will be changing at some point because West Virginia, having legalized online poker well over four years ago, has yet to conduct a regulated online poker game and decided something should be done about their available, yet dormant, market.

Waking Up the Market

To that end, West Virginia recently announced it has signed on to the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement (MSIGA) that currently includes Nevada, Delaware, New Jersey, and most recently Michigan.

West Virginia Lottery Director John Myers said in a press release, “I am pleased that our West Virginia iGaming providers will now have the opportunity to offer multi-state poker to our players. This will greatly increase the potential pool of participants and thus allow our players to play for bigger winnings.”

Not So Fast

Although the agreement has been signed and West Virginia is ready to enter the multi-state revenue-producing party, it won’t happen immediately. Loose ends must be tied up, chief among them vetting the online poker operators who wish to partake in the state’s reestablished online poker gaming industry.

Director Myers’ press release also stated, “West Virginia iGaming Service Providers interested in offering multi-state poker will have to submit a letter of intent to the Lottery and gain necessary approvals from West Virginia and other relevant member states before going live.”

One More In the Party?

Pennsylvania is one state that has yet to join the MSIGA due to its rather large population of nearly 13 million, the fifth most populated state in the union. Whether the legislature and governor ultimately decide to enter the multi-state agreement is anyone’s guess but it doesn’t appear to be at the top of their agenda.

Doug Harbach, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, said,

“We inform [operators] that the Pennsylvania Race Horse Development and Gaming Act requires the governor to agree to and execute any such agreement, and they are certainly aware of the matter. The last administration was not comfortable moving forward with such an agreement, and we have not heard otherwise from the present administration.”

But there won’t be any pressure from those controlling the MSIGA to coax Pennsylvania into the compact according to Michael Morton, a Nevada Gaming Control Board official who helps oversee the organization. “If someone wants to join, we stand ready and waiting [to discuss it],” he said.

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