With just days before the official soft launch of the Pennsylvania online gaming market, the status of online poker in the state is still up in the air.
Multiple online casinos, including Hollywood Casino, are reportedly cleared to launch on Monday July 15, the first day that the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB). The first several days will act as a testing period to make sure that all facets of the internet gaming experience are functioning properly including payment processing, geolocation services and responsible gaming measures.
We’re working with our partners and the authorities to finalize plans and bring our leading brands to PA’s players as soon as possible
However, not a single online poker operator has publicly announced that they will be among the igaming companies soft launching on Monday.
From what we can tell from a review of PGCB documents, the online poker room closest to launching is PokerStars PA which was approved by the regulator last November. Yet the worldwide leader in online poker is still not committing to a July 15 soft launch.
“We’re working with our partners and the authorities to finalize plans and bring our leading brands to PA’s players as soon as possible,” said The Stars Group’s representative to pokerfuse. “There’s a lot to look forward to, so rest assured we’ll be in touch with more details as soon as they’re available.”
Meanwhile, a Twitter user asked PokerStars whether they will launch in Pennsylvania on Monday.
This is how PokerStars replied:
As players wait for online poker to go live in the state, here is a detailed guide with some of the most common questions about online poker in Pennsylvania.
When is online poker going live in Pennsylvania?
The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) has announced July 15 as the official launch date for regulated online gambling operations including online poker in Pennsylvania. A number of operators have shown interest in launching their gambling operations in the Keystone State.
At least two operators are expected to go live on the launch date. According to PlayPennsylvania, PGCB has confirmed that Parx Casino and Hollywood Casino will roll out their online casino games on Monday, July 15 for live testing. The testing is expected to last at least “2 or 3 days,” as per PGCB.
Online poker players may likely have to wait as the state regulators have yet to confirm the timeline as to when online poker rooms would go live.
How Many Land-Based Casinos Have Been Approved For Online Poker?
The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) has issued Interactive Gaming Certificates to seven land-based casinos in Pennsylvania to offer online poker in the state as of now. Among the casinos authorized are Mount Airy, Harrah’s Casino Philadelphia, SugarHouse Casino, Valley Forge, Hollywood Casino, Parx Casino, and Sands Bethlehem.
Philadelphia Casino, Presque Isle Downs Casino, Mohegan Sun Pocono, Golden Nugget Pennsylvania (under Qualified Gaming Entities) have been authorized to offer table games and slot machines but they have not applied for a license for online poker.
Which Online Gaming Companies Have Partnered with which Land-Based Casinos?
As per the state regulations, online operators must partner with land-based casinos to launch their online operations in the Keystone State.
The Stars Group, the parent company of PokerStars, sealed its partnership with Mount Airy Casino Resort in August 2018. Two months later, the pair was approved by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) in late November 2018.
The Penn National-owned Hollywood Casino has inked a five-year online gambling partnership with gaming behemoth IGT, to offer online casino games in the state. PGCB approved Hollywood Casino to offer online gambling in PA in mid-September.
SugarHouse Casino (PlaySugarHouse.com) has partnered with Rush Street to offer online casino games but is unlikely to launch online poker in the state.
Parx Casino has partnered with internet gaming supplier GAN to offer online casino games. It will be going live on Monday along with Hollywood Casino.
WSOP.com and 888 have a close association with Harrah’s Philadelphia Casino, which is owned by Caesars Entertainment, also the owner of the WSOP.com brand. While partypoker is expected to go live in PA through its potential partnership with Valley Forge Casino. The casino is owned by Boyd Gaming, which again has close relations with MGM Resorts and GVC Holdings.
Pennsylvania Casinos and their Online Partners
|Mount Airy Casino Resort||PokerStars||Yes|
|Valley Forge Casino Resort||partypoker||Likely|
|SugarHouse Casino||Rust Street Interactive||Yes|
|Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem||TBA||-|
Which Online Poker Rooms Are Expected To Launch In PA?
Online poker giant, PokerStars is expected to be among the first online poker rooms in Pennsylvania that will be going live in the state. The company partnered with Mount Airy Casino and was given an Interactive Gaming license in late November. However, at this stage, it is uncertain if the room will launch on July 15.
The operator has told pokerfuse that it plans to bring its leading brands to the PA state “as soon as possible.” However, no timeline has been provided by the company.
Alongside PokerStars, WSOP.com, 888Poker, and partypoker are also among the likely the candidates that will be offering online poker to PA players. Partypoker’s parent company, GVC Holdings, is still waiting for approval for its Interactive Gaming license from the state regulators.
How Old Do I Need To Be To Play Online Poker In Pennsylvania?
In Pennsylvania, players must be at least 21 years old to play at regulated online poker and casino sites.
Do I Need To Be A Resident Of Pennsylvania To Play At Regulated Online Gambling Sites?
No, players do not need to be a resident of Pennsylvania to play at online poker and casino games. However, they must be physically located inside the state’s borders to participate. Online poker rooms will verify the player’s location through geolocation services.
Will I Be Able To Play With The Rest Of The World?
Regulated online poker will be ring-fenced at first, and PA players will only be able to play against those located within the state.
Will I Be Able To Play With Other US States?
In the US, online shared liquidity is allowed only between those states that have joined the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement (MSIGA). Currently, only three states (Delaware, Nevada and New Jersey) have joined the agreement. As a result, at the time of launch, operators will not be able to allow players in Pennsylvania to play at the same ring game tables or in the same tournaments as their customers in other states.
Will Pennsylvania Join the US Shared Online Poker Player Pool?
It is expected that Pennsylvania will join the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement (MSIGA) in the future. Last year, the PGCB was in talks with the New Jersey regulator to join the US player pool.
However, the PGCB in September 2018 stated that it cannot predict the likelihood that Pennsylvanian online poker operators will be able to combine their player pools with those in New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware.
Pennsylvania has a population of nearly 13 million—more than the combined population of Delaware, Nevada, and New Jersey. Should Pennsylvania join the agreement, it will be a huge boost to the US regulated online poker market as the player pool will likely to double.
Are Online Casino Games Also Legal in Pennsylvania?
Yes, online casino games including table games and slots are legal in Pennsylvania along with online poker.
What About Unregulated Sites?
Unregulated online poker rooms accepting players based in Pennsylvania are likely to pull out from the state once the market goes live.