As of last month, the Chief Enforcement Counsel for the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board expected that ROAR Digital would receive approval to offer online gaming in the state of Pennsylvania at the August meeting of the PGCB, but when ROAR was not included on the agenda that was released in the days leading up to August 5 meeting, onlookers began to question the launch date of partypoker PA.
Those questions turned to doubt when the PGCB adjourned without signing off on ROAR, and while the delay for ROAR was unexpected, there is no indication that the delay will impact the PGCB’s timeframe of “summer or early fall” for the launch of partypoker PA.
Following the July meeting of the PGCB during which Cyrus Pitre, Chief Enforcement Counsel for the PGCB, stated that he expected ROAR to have its igaming operator license approved “in the very near future, hopefully by the next board meeting,” Doug Harbach, PGCB Communications Director told pokerfuse that testing of the partypoker platform has already begun.
Harbach went on to say that the “PGCB anticipates overseeing a soft launch sometime this summer or early fall.”
“PGCB staff have been working closely with Roar to launch the Party Poker and BetMGM apps, which will include interactive slots, table games and poker,” Harbach said. “This includes testing of ROAR’s interactive gaming platform and games.”
Given the complexities of vetting an online poker platform and that the Pennsylvania online gaming market did not have a coordinated roll out similar to that of New Jersey where multiple online poker operators launched at the same time as many of the state’s online casinos, it was reasonable to expect ROAR to launch its online casino games and sports betting platform before its poker product was ready.
When will partypoker PA Launch?
Even with the expectations for a ROAR igaming approval now shifted to the next PGCB meeting on September 2, there is no evidence that a partypoker PA launch will not meet the stated time frame of “summer or early fall.”
Under the most conservative measures, summer lasts until Labor Day which falls on September 7 this year, but summer officially lasts until September 22.
And with early fall certainly extending into October, there is still plenty of time to complete testing and clear whatever hurdles ROAR faces in its quest for licensing in Pennsylvania.
Why Hasn’t ROAR Been Approved Yet?
Though no reason was given for why ROAR’s application was not ready for PGCB approval last week, it is likely that the reason was procedural in nature.
If there was a problem with the partypoker platform, it most likely would not have held up ROAR’s application or the launch of its online casino games and sportsbook.
The reverse is also likely to be true. A procedural problem with the ROAR application is not likely to have caused regulators to halt testing of the poker platform, and as such, there is no reason for Pennsylvania online poker players awaiting the arrival of the partypoker US network in their state to panic.
So even though the “hopes” of the PGCB did not pan out in August, a “summer or early fall” launch of partypoker in Pennsylvania is certainly still plausible.
After patypoker, the next online poker room expected to provide competition for PokerStars PA – the state’s only current online poker operator – is WSOP PA, but currently there is still no time frame for when the online arm of the World Series of Poker will launch in Pennsylvania.