Look for Pennsylvania Online Poker in Mid-2018
The most difficult part of online poker in Pennsylvania is done. It took years to craft and pass legislation that called for the legalization and regulation of online poker and other casino games. It took meetings, hearings, phone calls, tweets, emails, and possibly even some gentle arm-twisting. But in October of 2017, it did finally happen. The entire legislature approved the measure, and Governor Tom Wolf signed it into law.
Poker players want to know when they can play online poker in Pennsylvania on safe sites, ones that are regulated by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, properly licensed and vetted, and ready to accept new players within the state’s borders. However, with no firm timetable and several variables in play, it’s only possible to make an educated guess.
Pennsylvania Not New to Gaming
As of 2010, land-based casinos in Pennsylvania were allowed to offer table games, making them fully-operational casino resorts similar to those in Atlantic City and Las Vegas. Slot machines had been legalized several years earlier, putting the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board in charge of regulating the state’s casino industry. The state now has five stand-alone casinos, six racinos, two resort casinos, and off-track wagering at nearly 20 locations operated by racinos.
The new law simply expands many of those operations. There will be 10 satellite casinos operated similarly to the off-track wagering facilities but with slot machines and table games. Video gaming terminals will be installed at various truck stops, and casinos may operate gambling parlors at airports. Online lottery sales and daily fantasy sports are now legal. And, of course, casinos and racinos will be able to obtain licenses to launch online gambling and poker websites.
The additions to Pennsylvania’s gaming industry involve more online technology than ever before, but the gaming control board is well equipped to establish regulations and oversee the industry’s growth to an expanded online presence.
Borrowing Notes from New Jersey
New Jersey’s online gambling operations have been running for four years. During that time, the casinos and online poker and casino companies have worked together to hone technology required to regulate those games, including geolocation and customer identification technologies.
To the left in the picture is #NewJersey, to the right in the photo is #Pennsylvania. So, as far as the eye can see, there's legal #online #gambling. Congrats #PA on becoming the 4th state to legalize online #poker, online #casinos, #dailyfantasysports and #sportsbetting #TGIF pic.twitter.com/U7NhaT6qzZ
— House of Cards® (@HOCRadio) November 3, 2017
In all likelihood, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board will seek advice from the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, allowing for a faster setup and implementation of the new system. This will not only expedite the launch of the games but eliminate many of the stumbling blocks that New Jersey faced in its first year or so of online offerings.
Spokesperson Doug Harbach told CapitolWire as much: “The board is on more familiar ground when it comes to implementing internet gambling and fantasy sports betting. Board officials have testified at numerous legislative hearings on internet gambling and have New Jersey’s experience to draw on.” He also added, “We’ve done a lot of things to get ready for this.”
Online poker and gambling operators already operating in New Jersey are ready and anxious to jump into the new Pennsylvania market, and they will bring their experience with them.
PokerStars has already expressed interest in being among the first operators to launch a site in Pennsylvania, and it is likely already in talks with the land-based casino and racino operators there to forge a strong partnership ahead of the licensing process. 888-WSOP will be ready to enter the new market, as will PartyPoker-Borgata-PlayMGM and Pala Poker.
It is unclear which sites and casinos will sign agreements, but talks are likely already happening. Expect partnerships to be announced in December 2017 or January 2018.
Many experts in the industry are guessing that the launch of the Pennsylvania testing period for online poker and casino games will be near July 1, 2018. With the gaming control board unwilling to set a timetable at this early stage or even establish a date to begin the licensing application process, it is tough to make a more educated estimate.
The summer of 2018 is a safe bet.