PokerStars Hits One Year as Sole Pennsylvania Poker Site
When Pennsylvania legalized state-regulated online poker and gambling, operators applied for licenses. The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) ultimately awarded seven of them that included online poker in 2018.
The summer of 2019 delivered the launch of several online casinos, complete with slots and table games, but no operator hinted at the launch of an online poker site.
Finally, on November 4, PokerStars and land-based casino partner Mount Airy Casino opened up for a soft launch. Testing went very smoothly, and the PGCB gave its approval for the full launch on November 6. And PokerStars drew big numbers, as Pennsylvanians had waited many years for the opportunity to play on Stars again.
As PokerStars approaches its one-year anniversary this week, it remains the only online poker site in Pennsylvania.
Happy early birthday, PokerStars PA! Someone should buy a cake.
What About 888 and WSOP?
It is a mystery. The WSOP has said nothing publicly about opening its site in Pennsylvania.
It’s not that it doesn’t have a license. It does. The PGCB approved the 888 Atlantic Limited online poker license at its September 30 (2020) meeting.
888 Atlantic Limited approved for an interactive gaming manufacturing license in Pennsylvania
— Kevin Mathers (@Kevmath) September 30, 2020
With this as the platform used by WSOP.com to operate its online poker in three other states, this was an integral step toward opening the site. It will be connected to Harrah’s Philadelphia Casino & Racetrack. Despite the WSOP site having advertised welcome bonuses for Pennsylvania players, some of whom received promotional emails as well, PGCB Communications Director had no information about a potential launch.
In fact, Play Pennsylvania confirmed via a Caesars representative that “it will now be at least 2021 before WSOP.com PA will launch.”
What about PartyPoker and Roar?
On October 28 (2020), the PGCB approved the BetMGM interactive gaming license – including for online poker – during its monthly meeting. BetMGM operates under Roar Digital, the US arm of GVC’s PartyPoker. Their land-based partner in Pennsylvania is Valley Forge Casino.
Pokerfuse spoke with Harbach after the approval, and he said there is no schedule for a soft launch of PartyPoker or BetMGM in Pennsylvania.
Good News for Partypoker US Network, Roar Digital Approved to Offer Online Poker in Pennsylvania https://t.co/JUJ21NWCtj
— pokerfuse (@pokerfuse) October 28, 2020
PokerStars PA Continues Raging Solo
The Pennsylvania online poker market has been the slowest to launch thus far. And PokerStars is not only preparing to celebrate its one-year anniversary in Pennsylvania, it is still collecting all possible online poker revenue.
And it will remain that way for the foreseeable future.
Of course, Pennsylvania is not yet a party to the multi-state online poker agreement, one that allows sites to connect over state lines. The WSOP uses that agreement to connect its sites in Nevada, Delaware, and New Jersey. (It is the only site operational in two of those three states.) The lack of options for networks does limit the poker revenue potential in the US market at this time.
When Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf agrees to join that network and allow online poker liquidity, PokerStars will be ready to link up with its New Jersey site. While PartyPoker and WSOP.com could probably link to their other sites quickly as well, they will have to gain a solid footing in Pennsylvania first.
The catch-22 in this situation is that Wolf is unlikely to actively pursue the multi-state online poker agreement with only one poker site in operation in his state. If the other two licensed sites would launch their poker sites, the idea of liquidity would look more appealing to Pennsylvania. Meanwhile, WSOP and PartyPoker are not anxious to launch in PA because there is no liquidity yet.
PokerStars can’t be too disappointed. While its revenue from PokerStars PA has been a roller coaster since its launch, there is revenue. In fact, from November 2019 through October 2020, PokerStars showed more than $32.7 million in revenue.
That may not be the most impressive number for online poker operators, but it is better than nothing, which is what other potential operators produce in the PA online poker market.
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