On Wednesday, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board is expected to approve the application of NSUS Group, Inc., the parent company of GGPoker, for an Interactive Gaming Manufacturer License.
This license would allow NSUS to offer online poker and online casino games in Pennsylvania, which includes slots and table games like blackjack and roulette. However, the company would also have to have an agreement in place with a certificate holder (one of the land-based casinos in the state or one of the approved Qualified Gaming Entities) before it could launch online poker in Pennsylvania.
Pokerfuse reached out to GGPoker for comment, but the company did not expand on when (or if) GGPoker would make its US debut in the Keystone State, as either GGPoker PA or with a third party.
The PGCB told pokerfuse ahead of the meeting that no test launch has been scheduled pending the approval of NSUS.
GGPoker’s Rise to Prominence
GGPoker is arguably the hottest online poker platform in the world, having made a name for itself in 2020 with the launch of its flagship tournament, GGMasters.
The success of GGPoker was quickly noticed by the World Series of Poker, which partnered with the international poker room to put on the 2020 WSOP Super Circuit Online Series, the first online poker room to guarantee at least $100,000,000 for a single tournament series.
GGPoker parlayed that success into a new deal with WSOP to host an online version of the World Series of Poker over the summer as restrictions on land-based casinos due to the Covid-19 pandemic caused the cancellation of the traditional summer poker festival in Las Vegas. NSUS Group submitted its application as an igaming manufacturer in Pennsylvania in December 2019.
The PGCB meeting takes place on Wednesday February 10, 2021 at 10:00am EST. The meeting will be livestreamed on YouTube and will be archived on the PGCB YouTube channel.
Other Operators Expected to Launch Online Poker in Pennsylvania
PokerStars PA is still the only online poker room in the state, after launching in November 2019. However, other prominent US online poker rooms currently hold licenses to offer online poker in the state even though they have yet to actually launch.
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In September, 888 was approved by the PGCB as an Interactive Gaming Manufacturer, paving the way for its B2B partner Caesars Interactive to launch its online poker brand in the state.
However, neither 888 PA nor WSOP PA have launched yet, and the regulator told pokerfuse that it could not provide a timeframe for the launch of an 888 or WSOP poker app.
In October 2020, BetMGM (aka Roar Digital), a joint venture between MGM Resorts International and Entain (the parent company of partypoker) formed to offer online gaming and sports betting in the US, was approved by the PGCB for its Interactive Gaming Operator License.
With the partypoker US Network being the home of partypoker NJ, BetMGM NJ and Borgata Poker right next door in New Jersey, it was thought that the second online poker room in Pennsylvania was imminent.
But despite the approval, the PGCM confirmed to pokerfuse at the time that no soft launch had been scheduled and no plans had been made with the regulator for the launch of another online poker room in the state.
Another Online Poker Room in Pennsylvania Expected Soon
It is difficult to handicap whether or not GGPoker PA will be the next online poker room to launch in Pennsylvania and beat both partypoker and WSOP to market.
But regardless of whether NSUS follows in the footsteps of the operators approved in 2020, a new choice for online poker players in Pennsylvania will assuredly happen in 2021.
Last month, the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit affirmed the 2019 District Court decision that the 1961 Wire Act is limited to sports betting, clearing a major obstacle to expanding interstate online poker in the US.
Pennsylvania delayed the launch of its online gaming market and has restricted shared liquidity so as not to run afoul of federal law. Plus, Michigan passed a law that explicitly allows interstate online poker as long as the activity is legal on the federal level.
As a result, both states are expected to join the Multi State Internet Gaming Agreement (MSIGA) later this year. And when Pennsylvania does, we will likely see additional poker rooms sprint to market.
“We are working hard to go live the first half of the year, hopefully sooner,” Yaniv Sherman, SVP and Head of US at 888 Holdings told pokerfuse in an exclusive interview published last week. Sherman indicated that the plan is to launch WSOP in Pennsylvania on its new Poker 8 software in time for the 2021 World Series of Poker.