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According to the latest cash game traffic figures, seen exclusively by pokerfuse, PokerStars.MI is right now the largest regulated real money online poker network in the US—larger than the combined WSOP/888 network, bigger even than its Pennsylvania counterpart, PokerStars PA.

PokerStars launched its online poker room in Michigan ten days ago. It is the third regulated online poker site in the US ran by the company, following on from its 2016 launch in New Jersey and its late 2019 debut in Pennsylvania.

All three online poker rooms are segregated—meaning the player pools are not connected together, nor with the global “dot-com” player liquidity. Yet despite this, thousands of players from Michigan state—population approximately 10 million—have flocked to the new online poker room.

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This has resulted in one of the highest traffic levels ever observed by any online poker room in the US regulated markets at any time in history.

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According to figures tracked by GameIntel, formerly PokerScout, the go-to source for independent tracking of online poker traffic, licensed exclusively by pokerfuse’s Poker Industry PRO, PokerStars Michigan has averaged 410 concurrent cash game players over the last week.

Boeing 777x9. To put that in perspective, PokerStars PA—where PokerStars is also the only operator, and in a state with population 30% larger—was a tiny pip below, recording 405 players. PokerStars NJ was a third the size, at approximately 140 average seats.

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Its nearest competitor in the United States, the WSOP/888 US Network—which comprises six online poker rooms sharing liquidity between New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware—reported 275 cash game seats.

US Online Poker Network Traffic: February 8, 2021

All figures are based on average concurrent cash game traffic observed over the last seven days, rounded to the nearest 5 seats. All data used under license from GameIntel.com via the Poker Industry PRO Data platform.

Poker NetworkStatesCash Game Traffic
PokerStars.MIMichigan410
PokerStars.PAPennsylvania405
WSOP/888New Jersey, Nevada, Delaware275
PokerStars.NJNew Jersey140
Party/BorgataNew Jersey95

WSOP/888, which has been active in Nevada since 2013, has only ever hit 400 concurrent cash game seats one time in its near eight-year history: Briefly for a few weeks last year in the spring in the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic.

PokerStars NJ has never got close to the level: Not even when it first launched in 2016, including a period where it was #1 in the market; nor even during last year’s global online poker explosion—there, it hit its all-time peak of 330 concurrent seats.

In fact, the only online poker room in the US to consistently report this level of traffic is PokerStars Pennsylvania. Since launch in November 2019, the network has hovered around the 400 seats mark. It briefly saw its traffic explode up to 1000 during the absolute highs of the Covid-fueled online poker boom.

Data provided by GameIntel

Tournaments Also Enjoy a High Turnout—Though High Roller Overlays

While cash game traffic statistics always give the most comprehensive view of the online poker market, the numbers out of the tournaments also show that PokerStars Michigan is enjoying a strong turnout—though spots are starting to show in the operator’s aggressive weekend schedule, and the first big overlay has been seen.

As pokerfuse reported last week, its first weekend saw a decent turnout to its Sunday Majors, with all guarantees covering easily. The Sunday Warm-Up, in particular, attracted a strong showing of over 300 entries.

Clearly buoyed by this success, PokerStars MI increased guarantees for the second weekend. Three of the four highlight tournaments saw bumps to their guarantees, and the site also unveiled the Sunday Special: Its new flagship event with a $100 buy-in and a $20,000 guarantee.

The Special certainly had a huge first outing. In total, it brought in 301 entries, generating a prize pool of $27,632—by far the largest in the state so far.

PokerStars Michigan: First Two Sundays

WEEK 1WEEK 2
EventBuy-inRakeGuaranteeEntriesTotal buyinsGuaranteeEntriesTotal buyins
Warm Up$30$2.70$5,000317$8,654.10$5,000205$5,596.50
Storm$10$0.90$1,500270$2,457.00$2,000266$2,420.60
Special$100$8.20$20,000301$27,631.80
High Roller$250$17$7,50063$14,679.00$10,00036$8,388.00
Supersonic$50$3$2,00047$2,209.00$2,50085$3,995.00

However, this did notably have a knock-on effect on other tournaments. The $50 Supersonic grew, easily surpassing its new $2500 with 85 entries to generate a prize pool of almost $400. However, the others saw dips.

The Storm dropped a few entries, but easily covered. The Warm Up was actually affected quite a lot, losing 112 entries—thought it still handily covered its $5000 guarantee.

But it was the High Roller that really suffered. On the first week, it attracted 63 entries to almost double its $7500 guarantee. Understandably, PokerStars then upped the guarantee to $10,000 for its second outing. However, yesterday it attracted just 36 entries, generating prize money of $8388—an overlay of $1612.

This could well be the first overlay in Michigan, and it is not a small one. Those 36 entrants certainly enjoyed some value—to the tune of almost $50 each.

The likely reasons for this are twofold: Firstly, the $100 Special will have attracted some players to that instead. Overall, the Sunday Majors generated prize money of almost $50,000, way more than the $28,000 in the opening weekend—so the level of spend has not dropped; it just shifted.

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However, yesterday was also unique in that it was Super Bowl Sunday. This often has impact on tournament turnout—so this could well be a one-off.

Either way, players should keep watch on next Sunday’s tournaments, as there could be value opportunities.

Meanwhile, all eyes are now on the first big tournament series to be announced by PokerStars MI, details of which could come this week. Pokerfuse has predicted that it could be the first ever MICOOP, which could have a total series guarantee of up to $1 million. Watch this space.

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Hundreds of Dutch poker players are set to receive years of paid gambling taxes on PokerStars according to reports by CasinoNieuws.nl.

After a lengthy back-and-forth battle with the Dutch tax agency, Dutch poker players are set to be reimbursed millions in paid taxes on the world's #1 online poker site.

According to current Dutch gambling law dating back to 1964, poker is considered a form of gambling. Poker players in the Netherlands are to pay a monthly gambling tax on winnings that occur in that period, including poker. In 2015, however, the Dutch Supreme Court ruled that players on poker sites established within the EU are exempt from these taxes. Since 2012, players in the Netherlands have been accessing PokerStars through PokerStars.eu.

PokerStars.eu: Isle of Man or Malta?

Determining the official place of business of PokerStars.eu has been the kicker throughout the legal war. The Dutch tax agency advocated that PokerStars.eu is located on the Isle of Man, outside of the EU, while the Dutch poker group named Malta as PokerStars.eu's official place of business. After lower courts established different rulings on the subject and the Supreme Court allowing each verdict to stand, an onslaught of individual cases was looming at tons of smaller courts.

To prevent having to fight over hundreds of cases, the Dutch tax agency offered a settlement agreement to reimburse all paid taxes over poker winnings on Stars from the past nine years. The settlement was offered to lawyer Pepijn Le Heux, representative of a group of about 130 players including some of Holland's finest. It's expected to be offered to other legal councils of players as well in the near future.

While the settlement officially recognizes PokerStars.eu to be located on Malta, for PokerStars.fr, a French skin that was accessible to Dutch players in earlier years, it was decided its HQ stands on the Isle of Man instead of France. As part of the settlement, Dutch poker players will have to agree to officially pay taxes on their PokerStars.fr winnings. This tradeoff is expected to be acceptable to most of the represented players, with the majority of them expected to sign the deal.

CasinoNieuws' Frank Op de Woerd welcomed the new agreement, saying: 'I'm glad that after such a long period of time, there is now an agreement on the table that is favorable to the bulk of poker players. This closes a chapter that has been going on for so long. I expect most poker players to accept the agreement, although they will have to pay taxes on their PokerStars.fr winnings.'

New Remote Gaming Law in 2021

Online poker sites are currently facing heavy restrictions to conduct their gaming business in the Netherlands. Sites such as PokerStars and partypoker, however, remained accessible to the Dutch over the years, while others like GGPoker and Winamax opted to fully withdraw from the market.

With the official place of business being important to the courts, Brexit has also affected current gaming taxation in the Netherlands. Both partypoker and 888poker, located in Gibraltar, are officially out of the EU since January 1st and affected by the Dutch law. While PokerStars is now tax-free, these two sites travel the other way. Dutch players will now be subject to gaming taxes on both sites regardless of this settlement.

Fortunately for the now non-EU operators, the skewed landscape won't last long. On April 1st. 2021, a new Remote Gaming Law will replace the archaic law from the '60s, allowing all poker sites to officially apply for a license. It's expected that all major operators will be among those interested in gaining a foothold in the market.

Tax liability will shift from the players to the operators under the new law, providing a gambling tax-free environment for players and likely preventing long drawn-out cases like these to occur again.

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