There Is Hope for Online Poker in PA But Keep A Dose Of Patience Close

August 9, 2019
There Is Hope for Online Poker in PA But Keep A Dose Of Patience Close

Online gaming and sports betting are now online in Pennsylvania and already showing signs of major growth. Online poker in Pennsylvania may also be part of the mix by the end of the year according to recent reports.

That’s good news for players in the Keystone State. In a Two Plus Two forum post in mid-July, a user posted a response to a player inquiry of Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course.

The response apparently comes from the executive administrative assistant to Hollywood vice president and general manager, Dan Ihm. Along with poker, the post outlines the property’s plans for its mobile betting app.

The posted response said:

“The initial three days will be a soft launch with very limited slots and table games available to play. More games will be added as we move through the month of July. Poker will not be initially available on the app. We are hoping to have poker integrated by the end of 2019.”

Poker appears to be part of Hollywood’s plan

If the report is accurate, players may be in action by the end of the year. Penn National Gaming has a five-year deal with industry heavyweight IGT to provide online gaming and that may include poker. The company already operates an online poker platform in Canada. 

It’s not yet known if the state will join a shared liquidity pool with other states. That may depend on if the federal government appeals a recent court ruling on the Wire Act.

That ruling came after a lawsuit by the New Hampshire Lottery to clarify the Wire Act. The law was previously only applied to sports betting. However, the Department of Justice changed that to all forms of gambling in November.

As a result of the New Hampshire ruling, a June deadline to comply was put on hold. New Jersey players were then able to play WSOP bracelet events this summer.

Sports betting legal expert Daniel Wallach recently questioned whether the federal government would even appeal the ruling.

Pennsylvania would become the fourth state with legal online poker. States currently online include: 

West Virginia has also approved online gaming and poker, with expectations the regulation process will be completed by next year.

The player view of Pennsylvania online poker

It’s been a long wait for players yearning for online poker’s expansion in the U.S. The possibility of Pennsylvania coming onboard offers some hope.

Longtime poker pro, Matt Glantz, told USPoker this week that poker isn’t a priority for online gaming operations. Glantz has served a consultant to gaming operations in the state. The game is seen as a low revenue generator and has taken a backseat to online casino games and sports betting.

However, many casinos take an omni-channel gaming approach online. An app with poker, casino gaming, and sports betting offers an opportunity to reach players on every level.

There is no timetable yet on any online poker offerings. Currently, there are three online casinos operating in Pennsylvania. A representative for the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) offered some hope for players.

PGCB spokesman Doug Harbach told USPoker this week:

“We could see one up and running before the end of summer.” 

Recreational player Roger Davis lives in Perkasie and is one of those hoping online poker heads to Pennsylvania soon. The 40-year-old building material estimator is a regular $1/$2 and $2/$5 No-Limit Hold’em cash game player. 

“I was an online player before Black Friday and like to think I have improved my game since then,” he says. “I don’t have as much time to go to the casino as I would like. Having online poker will be nice to play a few hours in the evening.”

He’s hoping sites in New Jersey enter the Pennsylvania market soon. Sites like: 

Davis continued:

“I’m looking forward to a regulated site poker that’s safe. But it will only succeed if combined with player pools in New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware.”

The future of online poker in the U.S.

Ultimately, the broader success of online poker will come down to adding more populous states. With online gaming and sports betting finding more supporters, there seems to be some possibilities for poker.

Adding states like California and New York would be huge for the industry. But those don’t yet even have online sports betting.

Michigan legislators have been close to legalization in recent months. However, a bill now seems caught in a tug of war over online slots and taxes.

Illinois would be a big addition to player pools. Gov. J.B. Pritzker recently signed a major expansion on gaming and casinos, but that doesn’t include online.

In the meantime, Pennsylvania online poker would be a small sign of progress. But players will have to practice a trait many know well at the tables – patience.

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