Online poker went live in Pennsylvania late in 2019, making the Keystone State the fourth regulated state in the US. It is also the largest regulted martket with the population of almost 13 million. At the moment, PokerStars PA is the only operational poker room in the state, but more operators should be going live in the near future.
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Online gambling was first regulated in Pennsylvania in December of 2017 with the passage of the gambling expansion act (officially, H 271). Like with other regulated states, it took some time before online gambling and poker operators actually opened their doors and started accepting players.
Online poker officially became live in the Keystone State in November of 2019 with the launch of PokerStars PA. This was the first regulated room in the state and Pennsylvania residents who enjoy online poker were finally given a legal and regulated site to play on.
Of all the US states that currently have legal online poker (Nevada, Delaware, Michigan, and New Jersey), Pennsylvania is the one with the largest number of residents. As such, it represents a very interesting potential market for the operators and has a potential for some interesting developments in the future, especially if federal laws change and interstate compacts are legalized.
Right now, PokerStars is the only online operator offering their services in the state of Pennsylvania. As mentioned, the room launched in November of 2019, and managed to quickly generate a lot of traction. With such a big potential pool of players and no competition, this was hardly a surprise.
PokerStars had a very good first year in the Keystone State, providing players with a variety of gaming options and generous promotions. Their first PACOOP (Pennsylvania Championship of Online Poker) featured a prize pool of $1.25 million and more than 50 individual events.
In November of 2020, the operator also hosted the anniversary series to celebrate the success in the PA market, offering $1,000,000 in prizes spread across 35 tournaments.
While PS is the only currently active room, there are several other candidates already licensed by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. While these companies are taking their time (for reasons best known to them), they meet all the legal requirements to launch their own room at some point in the future.
WSOP.com has serious plans for Pennsylvania as the operator has every intention to go live in the state before summer of 2021.
Other online rooms that will likely join the regulated state market at some point in the future are:
GGPoker, one of the biggest players on the international scene, has also shown interest in the Keystone State. While the operator still has some distance to cover before this can happen, it is not impossible for GGPoker PA to join the fray before the end of 2021.
Although we have no fixed dates as to when other rooms will join the PA online poker market, a few stakeholders have shown an interest and it is probably a matter of months before Pennsylvania players will have access to some options beyond PokerStars.
WSOP.com seems to be the most serious candidate as the company has already announced their intention to enter Pennsylvania before summer of 2021. Caesars Interactive has partnered up with 888 to offer a brand new and innovative gaming client across all regulated states, so PA will likely benefit from this partnership as well.
Rooms that are part of the partypoker US network will likely follow suit during 2021, although the company behind them is yet to come out with any firm dates. They could roll out one, two, all or three brands in Pennsylvania. Whether the rollout happens at the same time for all brands or they decide to spread it across several months remains to be seen.
Finally, there is GGPoker. One of the leaders in the international online poker markets seems to have its eyes set on Pennsylvania. Their software has already been approved by the PGCB, but the company still has some length to go as they would first need to find a land-based partner in the state.
The launch of GGPoker PA would be of great significance in the grand scheme of things, but it is still unclear if the operator plans to launch under its own brand or if they will do it through a partnership with another brand, creating a new, US-specific room.
With PokerStars being the only currently active operator in Pennsylvania, tournament players are limited to what the operator has to offer in terms of series and competitions.
So far, the room has organized the Pennsylvania Championship of Online Poker (PACOOP), with more than 50 events and the guaranteed prize pool across all tournaments well exceeding $1,000,000. The 2020 PACOOP Main Event featured a $200,000 guarantee.
It is fair to say that PSPA has set the bar pretty high, so newcomers to the market will have their work cut out for them. If rooms like BetMGM or partypoker want to attract players their way once they go live, they will need to offer series that feature similar numbers.
While PokerStars definitely has the experience on its side when it comes to organizing large online events, aspiring operators have one thing working for them, and that’s the size of the market. Pennsylvania has a massive potential pool of players, so hosting extensive MTT series with big guarantees should not be a huge risk and it would be a major marketing move to get their foot in the door early on.
Depending on what you are looking for exactly, PA poker rooms offer some interesting bonus options for new players.
PokerStars PA gives you two options. You can either go for the standard welcome bonus of 100% up to $600 or get $30 worth of free funds to use (cash and tournament tickets) when depositing $20 or more. So, newcomers to online poker have a nice option to get them started and provide them with some extra funds to use as they figure things out.
BetMGM Poker will likely offer a straight-up first deposit bonus of up $1000. For serious players, this is probably a more appealing option than what PokerStars has to offer, simply because of the possibility to claim more extra money. At the same time, there is the $25 no deposit bonus, giving you a way to test the room and even kick-start your poker bankroll without any risk.
Partypoker PA will likely offer the same deal for newcomers. So, when one or both of these rooms go live in Pennsylvania, PokerStars will have some serious competition.
Laws and regulations pertaining to online poker in Pennsylvania are not that much different from those pertaining to live games.
As for the operators, they have to adhere to a strict set of rules at all times. First of all, all sites wanting to offer real money games in PA must be approved and licensed by the PGCB.
Secondly, player funds must always be stored separately and kept away from operating accounts. This is an insurance policy of sorts, guaranteeing that players will not be out of their money if the company experiences financial difficulties.
All licensed gambling operators (casinos, betting sites, and poker rooms) must also act responsibly and make sure players have access to various responsible gambling tools and resources. Things such as deposit and loss limits are mandatory, and they must also provide links to professional help for all players who might need such assistance.
The situation with geolocation is pretty much uniform across all regulated US states. Players must be physically present within the borders of the state to legally play with any operator licensed by that particular state.
Pennsylvania is no exception to this rule. While players do not have to be residents of the state to be able to play, they do have to be inside the state to both open an account and play for real money.
This is one of the most important rules there are and trying to get around this restriction is not just breaking the site rules but also constitutes breaking of the federal laws. Therefore, you should never try to get around the site’s security protocols and play from a different state.
You will not be able to do this by accident. Online poker rooms in PA employ different geolocation software solutions to verify the player’s location information. You will also need to allow location tracking on your device.
Pennsylvania residents wanting to download and install poker software and mobile apps on their devices will experience no special difficulties. The process itself is identical to that of downloading any other software, gambling or otherwise.
Of course, it is extremely important to be in the state when attempting to do this. Even if you were able to gain access to the site and download the software, you will not be able to register for an account unless you are in PA.
Other than this, you should have no problems with this particular aspect.
Simply visit the site you want to play on and find the download link. If you are playing from your computer, you will download the installation file and then run it locally. Once installed, you can use the software to open an account if you do not have one already.
Mobile users will need to download the appropriate app. If the site offers both Android and iOS apps, you need to select the one that fits your device.
Players using iPhones will have no problems as poker apps can be downloaded straight from the App Store. Android users will probably need to download the app from an “unofficial” location (i.e. not Google Play), so you will have to allow the installation manually.
Either way, downloading and installing online poker apps in Pennsylvania is not a big challenge as long as you are located within the state lines.
Regulated online poker sites in Pennsylvania offer everything that unregulated, offshore rooms do not. Every operator is licensed by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board and if they happen to break any regulator rules, they can suffer consequences.
It is also very important to note that these sites are owned and operated by well-known, established, and reputable companies.
PokerStars, for example, is easily the best-known online poker brand in the world. This means they have much more on the line than smaller, unknown rooms no one has even heard of. In the event of problems or disputes, they will respect the decision from the regulator and will not go out of their way to try and trick the players.
The same goes for the rooms hosted on the partypoker US network (partypoker, Borgata, and BetMGM). Operated by a large corporation, these are very safe and solvent sites that should never have problems meeting their obligations towards players.
You can always find the site’s licensing information somewhere in the footer area of the home page. If you have any reason to believe that the licensing information is incorrect or fabricated, you can cross-reference it with the information on the PGCB site, where you can find the full list of operators licensed by the state regulatory authority.
Players in Pennsylvania have access to a solid range of banking options to fund their online poker efforts and withdraw their winnings. The most common options you will find offered by the PA sites include:
Withdrawals are subject to security checks, which usually take a few hours, but in some cases can take up to 72 hours.
Of course, all players need to go through the identity verification prior to their very first withdrawal. The process entails sending a scan or a photo of your government issued ID.
The security team of the operator than checks the ID and compares the information on it with the information provided during the registration to make sure all details match.
In the first year of operation, online poker in Pennsylvania generated $35 million in revenue. This is an impressive number, given the youth of the market and the fact that only one operator (PokerStars PA) offered its services to the players. For a comparison, New Jersey, which has had regulated online poker since 2013 and features three operators, has generated $36.6 million.
Of course, the size of the PA market as well as the Covid-19 situation have probably contributed to these numbers.
In 2021, we will likely see a number of new operators going live in Pennsylvania, which should increase the number of active players and, in turn, the revenue generated from online poker.
There is also the possibility of interstate compacts hanging in the balance. If operators are finally allowed to share liquidity across state borders, this should have a major positive impact on their bottom lines. It is hard to predict exact numbers, but it is safe to assume there would be a serious positive uptick.
If Pennsylvania were to join other regulated states to share player pools across same brands, it would be a major step forward for the regulated online poker in the States. With the *population of almost 13 millio*n, the Keystone State would be a huge boost to any other player pool out there.
The state regulator is not against the idea and the PGCB has hinted at the possibility of creating interstate compacts several times already. So, the only real obstacle at the moment is the current interpretation of the Wire Act. If courts decide that the Wire Act does not apply to online poker, there will be significant movements in terms of interstate treaties.
As for Pennsylvania, PokerStars is currently the only active operator. When the time comes, they will probably seek to merge player pools with the other two existing rooms, namely PokerStars NJ and PokerStars MI.
If PS was able to do this, the network created through the merger would be one of the largest ones on the global scale. Whether this kind of development is possible in 2021 is anybody’s guess at this point in time, though.
Players looking for some in-person gaming action do not lack options in Pennsylvania. There are about a dozen brick and mortar venues operating across the state offering casino gaming, sports betting, and/or poker games and tournaments.
Owned and operated by Caesar’s Entertainment, Harrah’s Philadelphia Casino & Racetrack is one of the most iconic gaming venues in PA.
Slots’ fans will find more than 2000 different machines spread across the 10,000 square feet gaming floor, featuring numerous classics and many fresh releases regularly added to the offering.
The table games’ section offers a variety of options such as blackjack, roulette, Ultimate Texas Hold’em, baccarat, Pai Gow, craps, Let It Ride, Mississippi Stud, and much more. The betting area features six ticket windows as well as 16 self-serving kiosks for all your betting needs.
Harrah’s used to have a poker room as well, but, unfortunately, it shut down in 2020, and it seems the venue has no plans to reopen it in the near future.
Live! Casino Pittsburgh offers a variety of options for all types of casino gaming fans, regardless of their bankrolls or preferences.
The venue features well over 700 slot machines as well as a nice table games’ area offering craps, roulette, baccarat, blackjack, Ultimate Texas Hold’em, Pai Gow, Three Card Poker, Let It Ride, Criss Cross Poker, Mississippi Stud, etc.
The FanDuel-powered sportsbook inside the casino offers a variety of betting options as well as a place where you can relax, have a drink, and watch your favorite teams on a 40-inch screen featuring up to 12 events at the same time.
Mount Airy Casino in Pennsylvania has received a lot of media attention in recent years because of their partnership with PokerStars. Namely, the casino serves as the brick and mortar partner for the online poker giant, allowing the company to offer their virtual tables to PA players.
However, this casino has a lot to offer on its own. First of all, there is a nice poker room featuring 12 tables and non-stop action, spreading games like Texas Hold’em, Omaha, and Stud.
Those who prefer casino action will find almost 2000 machines scattered across the gaming floor alongside table games like Pai Gow, Mississippi Stud, baccarat, blackjack, Crazy for Poker, Let It Ride, roulette, craps, and more.
The luxurious sports betting area features 40 large TVs, three teller windows, and eight self-serving betting kiosks. In addition to offering all sorts of betting options, the sportsbook also offers an opportunity to watch many major sporting events in real time.
Formerly known as SugarHouse Casino, the venue changed its name to Rivers Casino Philadelphia in October of 2019. This popular venue offers all sorts of gaming options, but it has become quite popular as one of the favorite destinations for poker players.
The Rivers Casino poker room offers plenty of action and spreads variations such as Texas Hold’em, Omaha, Omaha 8, Seven Card Stud, Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo, etc. There are numerous promotions and jackpots available around the clock, adding even more value for those who choose to play here.
The casino area features a great number of slots (including some progressive jackpot machines) and a solid range of table games like baccarat, 4 Card Poker, Ultimate Texas Hold’em, blackjack, roulette, 3 Card Poker, baccarat, craps, and more.
The sportsbook at Rivers Casino Philadelphia covers the area of 5700 square feet and offers six betting windows as well as 22 self-serving kiosks. There is a large viewing area and a massive HD video wall capable of showing more than a dozen games at the same time. As for the betting options, punters can bet on all popular sports like hockey, football, boxing, soccer, etc.
Hollywood Casino in the Dauphin County is another interesting option for the fans of electrifying live action.
The casino features a poker room that’s currently closed due to the pandemic situation. However, it will likely reopen in the near future, offering a variety of cash game and tournament options and exciting promotions, including a tempting bad beat jackpot.
In the casino area, you will find almost 2,500 different slots and video poker machines featuring denominations between $0.01 and $100. Offered table games include roulette, craps, Let It Ride, Three Card Poker, Cajun Stud, Four Card Poker, blackjack, Pai Gow, Four Card Poker, and more.
Fans of sports betting will find a standalone sportsbook on the second floor (closed at the moment of writing this) as well as betting kiosks and sportsbook windows in the casino area. Hollywood Casino accepts straights bets, parlays, props, futures, match-ups, and also offers in-play betting.
Mohegan Sun Pocono offers a variety of options for Pennsylvania players, from slots and table games to in-person poker.
The venue’s poker room is on the smaller side, featuring just nine tables. However, there is usually plenty of action to be had, and players also get a chance to take advantage of several promotions such as bad beat jackpots (cash games and tournaments) and royal flush jackpots for each of the four suits.
The casino offers almost 2000 slot and video poker machines as well as a rich table games’ area featuring Mississippi Stud, craps, roulette, Pai Gow, Three Card Poker, blackjack, etc.
The sportsbook area at Lehigh Valley features a modern and comfortable space for everyone looking to place their wagers. The bookmaker accepts straight bets, round robins, parlays, and prop bets, and offers in-play betting on sports like soccer, football, basketball, tennis, golf, boxing, baseball, and much more.
Online poker has become legal in Pennsylvania with the passage of the online gambling bill back in December of 2017. Following this development, several operators applied with the PGCB to receive their gaming licenses, allowing them to offer both casino and online poker games.
As long as you are playing with a site that has been approved and licensed by the state regulator, playing online poker in PA is completely legal and you have nothing to worry about.
At the moment of writing (March 2021), only PokerStars PA is offering online poker games to PA residents. The room has been in operation since 2019 and features a great range of cash game and tournament options across the board.
In the future, more operators is expected to join the market. WSOP.com should be launching before the summer, while operators such as partypoker, BetMGM, and Borgata Poker will likely follow suit in the months to come.
Yes, you need to be physically present in Pennsylvania to play on a locally licensed room. Not only this, but you will also have to be in the state to even open an account with a PA online poker operator.
To ensure compliance, rooms utilize modern geolocation software solutions, which give them information about players’ whereabouts. If you are not within the state borders, you will not be able to access the site, log in to your account, or play real money games.
Every poker site licensed by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board has been through a serious verification process designed to ensure they operate in line with state laws and their business is completely on the up and up.
Therefore, you can rest assured that all licensed PA sites are completely safe and fair, and *not rigged in any wa*y. As a part of the licensing process, operators’ software is checked and tested by independent auditors, so there is no room for any underhanded tactics.
As long as the operator you want to play with offers a mobile app, you can play online poker from your phone or tablet in Pennsylvania without any restrictions. Keep in mind that, when playing from your phone, you will likely need to enable location tracking on your device as this is one of the requirements set by the regulator and the operators alike.
No, not at all. You can use a variety of convenient methods such as credit and debit cards, e-wallets, bank transfers, and in-person deposits. All withdrawals are manually checked and verified, but this process usually does not take more than a few hours.