The state of Pennsylvania is set to offer online poker, casino and slots games to players within the state by the end of 2018. It is a very exciting time as online gaming operators fall over themselves to make partnerships with land based casinos so that they can bring their products to market.
Online poker is expected to come online in the State of Pennsylvania by the end of 2018. We will keep you updated as to if this changes, but if progress continues at its current rate, it is a reasonable estimation to expect the state to come online before New Years Eve.
It is hoped that the player pool will be shared with the existing Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement (MSIGA), meaning operators in Pennsylvania will be able to connect their player pools with existing operations in New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware. This would mean that, for the likes of PokerStars, WSOP, 888, partypoker and Borgata, they would already be able to to offer a compelling online poker product.
Online Poker in Pennsylvania: What’s Happened So Far
Back in October 2017 legislation to legalize Pennsylvania online poker in the state passed. The new law also sees the legalization of online casino games and slots, daily fantasy sports, and online lottery sales. Sports betting is expected to be allowed as and when it is permitted by federal law.
In February 2018 The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) announced it would allow manufacturers and suppliers to apply for an online gaming license through their website as of April 2018.
On April 4 2018, it was announced by the PGCB that they were allowing multiple websites or “skins” for each license. The reasoning behind this decision was to enable a “competitive” market for online gaming.
In May 2018, fantasy sports contests were regulated and taxed in the state of Pennsylvania thanks to approval from the the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB).
Players in Pennsylvania can now play on the main DFS sites such as FanDuel and DraftKings along with a host of smaller fantasy sports contest providers such as Boom Fantasy and Fastpick.
Applications from land-based casinos have been accepted and online gaming providers started applying for their licenses on June 4, 2018.
In August 2018 parent company of PokerStars, The Stars Group, announced it has signed a deal with Pennsylvania casino Mount Airy Casino Resort to offer a full complement of online gaming products to players within the state.
People in Pennsylvania can expect to see the PokerStars branded online poker room and casino games along with sports betting under the BetStars brand.
Mount Airy Casino, based in Mount Pocono, penned a deal with 888 ahead of online gaming legislation being passed in the state back in 2015. 888 currently provides play money casino game titles, and Mount Airy promotes real money 888casino games in neighboring New Jersey.
Legislation states that license holders in Pennsylvania are allowed to support an unlimited number of skins, so we might see Mount Airy offer both 888 and PokerStars casino offerings. However, only one sports betting skin is allowed under the law, which will solely be run by the BetStars brand.
September 2018 saw the approval of interactive gaming certificates to two more casinos. SugarHouse Casino and Hollywood Casino are the latest to move forward with bringing online gaming to the state of Pennsylvania.
In addition the PGCB has announced it will allow out-of-state operators to apply for left over interactive gaming certificates called Qualified Gaming Entities, or QGEs.
Between October 15 and October 31, QGEs will be able to petition the PGCB for a license. All petitioners deemed “qualified” by the PGCB will go into a box to be picked at random.
November 2018 saw The Stars Group and Eldorado Resorts announce a twenty year partnership that will see the duo bring sports, casino and poker to eleven US states—not including PA as ties with Mount Airy to bring sports, poker and casino products to market at still underway.
Following this, in early December 2018 the PGCB approved PokerStars and Mount Airy Casino to offer online poker, slots and table games—a necessary hurdle that needed to be cleared for the pair to bring their online portfolio to life.
In first days of the new year, 888 announced it was buying out the All American Poker Network for $28 million. The transaction would strengthen its hold and growth position in the burgeoning regulated market in the US—helping the company roll out its product and technology within the US regulated markets without the need for partner approval.
January 2019 saw the Kindred Group and the Mohegan Sun Pocono casino in Pennsylvania announce their plans to work together to bring online sports betting and casino games to players in PA.
However a roadblock to proceeding is the reversal of the Wire Act that was announced in late January 2019.
Online sports betting, daily fantasy sports, poker, casino games and other forms of online gaming whose data and communications cross state lines may be at risk under the recent Department of Justice (DOJ) U-turn. This will have huge implications on the recent 888 buy out of the All American Poker Network, PokerStar’s partnership with Eldorado and the individual casinos within each US state.
The DOJ has given current operators a grace period of 90 days to bring their processes in line with the new interpretation of the act. The PGCB has asked its licensees to report back to them within 30 days to propose how they will bring their operations in line with the new ruling.
Will Pennsylvania Online Poker join the US Shared Player Pool?
With the new development of the Wire Act reversal, shared liquidity for Pennsylvania is now unlikely—despite the best way of ensuring buoyancy in the market.
As it stands today, New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware all share player pools. It is understood that the PGCB was in talks with the New Jersey regulator to join the US player pool—meaning that last year it looked hopeful that PA’s inclusion into the tri-state player pool from the off was looking likely.
Back in September 2018 the PGCB 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.
However as sharing player pools would mean that Pennsylvania’s online gaming servers would have to be housed in Atlantic City, New Jersey thanks to New Jersey law, it is unlikely that this will be compliant with the Wire Act, as the DOJ seeks to keep gambling strictly within state lines.
Pennsylvania has around 12.8 million residents. New Jersey has around 9 million residents, Delaware under 1 million and Nevada has 2.9 million—so although not everyone in the state is eligible to gamble online, the sheer size of the market will essentially double the shared player pool, as it currently stands if they were able to find a loop-hole in the DOJ’s ruling.
Pennsylvania Casinos: Everything You Need To Know
As online poker in the state will be associated with a land-based casino, here we take a look at some of the top casinos currently operating in Pennsylvania.
The iconic Harrah’s Casino and Racetrack is based in Chester, Philadelphia and run by Caesears Entertainment. It has slots, all the casino table games you would expect such as Poker, Roulette and Blackjack along with a horse racetrack.
The Poker Room at Harrah’s is the only WSOP poker room in whole of the state. It has 28 tables and is open 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Poker variants include Texas Hold’em, Seven Card Stud and Omaha with limit stakes starting at $2-4-6 and no limit stakes starting from $1-2. Monthly promotions and tournaments run in the poker room a bad beat sweeter for anyone who has been unlucky at the tables.
Like the low, mid and high stakes games you can play in the casino, restaurants at Harrah’s include options ranging from “Quick Bites, Casual and Upscale” with everything from a Krispy Kreme franchise to a Steakhouse and Raw Bar. Live entertainment also reigns supreme at Harrah’s with a range of shows from music, adult to family friendly offerings.
Harrah’s works with the WSOP.com to bring special promotions to its customers, & considering the WSOP.com are already working in the trial-state shared player pool as a leading operator it would not be surprising if they work with Harrah’s to bring online poker to Pennsylvania residents.
Mount Airy Casino
Based in Mount Pocono, Mount Airy Casino is out of town and offers a range of outdoor activities such a Hiking, Fishing, Horse Back Riding when looking to get a break from the tables. But that’s not to say there isn’t plenty to keep you occupied inside the casino.
There are all the casino games you would want such as poker, craps, roulette, Pai Gow and a top notch entertainment scene perfect for everyone There is also a wide choice of restaurants to choose from.
The poker room dubbed the Poker Palour is open 24 hours a day 7 days a week. There are nine tables where player can play at least two poker variants. Players can try their hand at: Texas Hold’em or Mississippi Stud that is a five card hand unlike Texas Hold’ems two.
Since 2015 Mount Airy Casino worked with 888poker to bring players an online casino experience so we can expect to see 888poker to enter the Pennsylvania online poker market due to it already having a strong foothold in the US market in the tri-state shared player pool.
Due to the partnership announcement with PokerStars to offer a full suite of poker, casino and sports betting, the PokerStars offering is expected to take front and center on the Mount Airy site or at least appear as a sub domain of the site.
The Meadows Racetrack and Casino
This is more of a no frills options for people looking to just hit the casino floor. There are all the game you would expect along with a dedicated poker room with 14 tables. Texas Hold’em and Omaha Hi and Omaha hi/low are the variants played in the room that overlooks the race track.
There is plenty of dining options with a food court, carvery and more. For those looking to make a flutter on the race track there is a horse and dog racetrack with plenty of promotional offers to get you going.
Bowling and a nightclub are available for those looking to let their hair down after a long day at the tables.
Mohegan Sun Pocono
Mohegan Sun Pocono is location near main stays of New York, Philadelphia New Jersey and Delaware in 400 acres of hillsides of Plains, Pennsylvania.
There is a 238 room hotel with on site spa and the casino has more than 90 table games and 2,300 slot machines.
There are daily poker tournaments with a mix of No Limit Hold’em and Bounty tournaments in the Poker Room along with Bad Beat Jackpots, for cash and tournament play. A special “Progressive Royals” promotion runs where $25 is added to the royal flush each day until the royal flush is hit.
Lady Luck Casino Nemacolin
Lady Luck Casino Nemacolin located in the Nemacolin Woodlands Resort in Farmington, Pennsylvania and again is an outdoorsy option for those looking for a casino experience. The casino has 600 slot machines and 28 table games. Within the poker room variants include: Three Card Poker, Mississippi Stud, Criss Cross Poker and Texas Hold’em.
Casual dining options in the restaurant and lounge are available. There is not hotel on site but the Lady Luck Casino has partnered with Nemacolin Woodlands Resort, which is only a mile away from the casino to offer overnight accommodation. Due to its rural setting there is plenty to do to keep outdoor enthusiasts occupied.
The Sands Casino in Bethlehem boasts 3,000 slot machines and over 200 table games. There is also a 30 table poker room.
Its official website is down at the time of writing.
Presque Isle Downs and Casino
Located in Eire, Pennsylvania the Presque Isle Downs and Casino is near Cleveland and 2 hours from Pittsburg. It has a casino, racecourse and poker room with all the food and entertainment amenities you would expect.
Each month a slate of promotions and tournaments are released in the Poker Room with everything from Happy Hours where free pizza is served to $15K Sunday Tournaments and $200 a day giveaways. Daily mini Sit n Go” tournaments are also run in the casino riffing of the popular poker variant seen heavily in the online poker arena.
Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course
Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course in Grantville, Pennsylvania is a casino where you can play poker, table games and slots along with hitting the race course for a flutter on the horses.
The Poker Room has 17 tables and is open all year. The casino release monthly promotions such as a “High Hand” promotion that was running in May that saw $500 being won every 30 minutes for the highest ranked hand. Other promotions that can be expected is a Bad Beat Jackpot where a loosing hand may result in a jackpot payout or Rake in Cash—where the more games you play the more cash bonuses you are rewarded. A monthly tournament schedule is also released on the website which shows a full slate of tournament events.
Rivers Casino in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania has over 90 table games and a 30 table poker room, not to mention over 2,000 slot machines.
River’s Poker Room features 24 hour food service so that players can get fully immersed in the experience of poker. Poker variants played in the room include Limit and No Limit Texas Hold’em along with Omaha Hi-Low and Pot Limit Omaha games.
No Limit Hold’em tournaments are run throughout the month on a daily basis, and a calendar of these events is uploaded online so that you can plan your trip in advance. Poker promotions also run throughout the months such as high hand promotions and special freeroll tournaments. A guest rewards program is also in place in the Poker Room.
Entertainment such as trivia nights and free concerts run throughout the year and there is a choice of eating establishments on site ranging from a steakhouse to cafes and a bar and grill.
Located just outside Philadelphia, ParX Casino hosts a whooping 3,330 slot machines. There are 180 table games, racecourse and poker room.
48 poker tables sit within the Poker Room at ParX Casino with 3 VIP poker table specially designed for high stakes action. Tournaments run daily in addition to promotions such as a Bad Beat Jackpot. Game variants include the classic No Limit and Limit Texas Hold’em games along with Pot Limit Omaha and Mixed Games to spice the action up.
Parx Casino also run there very own tournament series. April/May 2018 saw Big Stax XXV run with unlimited re-entries and late registration.
Sugar House Casino
Poker is a big deal at the Sugar House Casino, Philadelphia and is billed as the only Poker Room in Philadelphia. The Poker Room is home to Poker Night in America that is aired on the CBS Sports Network every Monday night.
Monthly tournament schedules for the Poker Room can be found online that feature a mix of No Limit Hold’em and DeepStacks games. Monthly promotions such as a High Hand Giveaway are also on offer.
The Poker Room is made up of 28 tables and has 24/7 “in-seat text-to-order” food service. Another perk is that complimentary alcoholic drinks for all active players on all games are provided.
Sugar House Casino has all other casino games you would expect such as slots, Pay Gow and Blackjack.
Dining options are plentiful along with a full suite of entertainment.
Valley Forge Casino
The Valley Forge Casino has 600 slot machines and 50 table games and is based near Philadelphia. Entertainment is king at the Valley Forge Casino with an extensive live music and entertainment scene.
Although there is no dedicated poker room, Valley Forge Casino offers Three-Card poker and Texas Hold’em games as part of the table games on offer in the casino. A Valley Club members club is optional to incentivize players.
Latest News on Pennsylvania:
West Virginia becomes the fifth state to legalize online poker.
For the first time in eight months, market revenue figures in New Jersey have exhibited annual growth.
West Virginia is also on the cusp of regulating online poker.
PGCB confirms that talks about shared liquidity for online poker had begun before the new DOJ opinion was handed down.
The DOJ has extend the compliance period by a further 60 days, giving igaming companies extra time to bring their operations in line with the new interpretation of the Wire Act.
Cross-state shared liquidity in the United States could be disbanded by the time WV proposals become law, unless the current DOJ opinion on the Wire Act is reversed.
State governments and media outlets question the motives behind the recent federal government reversal on online gaming.
Read more on Pennsylvania »