Online Gambling Launches in Pennsylvania But Poker Still Stuck on the Rail

Posted on July 29, 2019 - Last Updated on October 3, 2022

We have some good news and some bad news for gamblers in the great state of Pennsylvania. Let’s start with the positive, which is the Keystone State officially has online gambling sites up and running (finally). But, unfortunately, internet poker games remain on hold, for the time being.

Governor Tom Wolf signed an online gambling bill into law in 2017, paving way for land-based casinos to apply for a license to operate an internet casino. The new law allows for operators to provide gambling services to customers who are, at the time of play, within state borders. Games such as slot machines, table games, sports betting, and poker are legal.

Pennsylvania Casinos Up and Running

It’s always better late than never, or so the saying goes. Nearly two years after Wolf signed the bill into law, the first online casinos in Pennsylvania are finally up and running. That means those within the state – including visitors and residents – can now legally gamble online.

Pennsylvania is the fourth US state to offer online gambling, following in the footsteps of Nevada, Delaware, and New Jersey. Additional states could follow suit in the coming years but we’ll have to wait and see.

For now, Parx Casino, Hollywood Casino, and SugarHouse Casino, three of the most popular land-based gambling venues in the Keystone State, have officially launched online casinos with real money slots and table games bringing excitement and joy to gamblers all throughout the state.

Four additional land-based casinos have received Interactive Gaming Certificates from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB). You can expect more internet casinos to pop up by the end of the year.

Where are the Poker Games?

While it’s certainly a positive for the gambling community for another state to launch legal online gambling sites, there is one thing missing, for now. Online poker still remains on the sidelines in Pennsylvania, and that’s unfortunate for the thousands of avid poker fans in the state.

There is an explanation for this, although it might not satisfy the poker enthusiasts in the Keystone State. Games such as slot machines and blackjack generate more revenue than poker, which means more tax dollars for the state. Thus, the gaming board is simply giving preference to those games over poker.

Additionally, PGCB spokesman Doug Harbach told the Philadelphia Inquirer that poker is more complex than slots, which are played against the house. The software in creating live dealer games require more regulations and is part of the reason for the poker site delay.

When Will Online Poker Launch?

Fear not, Pennsylvanians. Online poker is coming to your state and soon. We know the wait has been unreasonably long considering the bill was signed into law almost two years ago. But your time to get some action on the virtual felt is on the horizon.

With that said, regulators still haven’t provided any sort of timeline for when operators can begin offering online poker games. It could be a matter of a few weeks or – worst case scenario – even months before this happens.

“We cannot predict a timeline on that right now,” Harbach said. “Poker will be rolled out when operators are prepared to do so.”

Will PokerStars Be in the Mix?

PokerStars is the world’s largest online poker brand. Its global platform crushes competitors such as 888poker and partypoker. So, having the top international internet poker brand in Pennsylvania could help boost revenue in the state.

And, yes, PokerStars will be one of the first poker sites to launch as soon as they go live. PokerStars is currently only available in New Jersey in the United States.

However, it should be noted that the global PokerStars site won’t be available in Pennsylvania. Players in the Keystone State will only compete against each other on all poker site platforms.

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