THUMBS UP: Partypoker/Roar Digital Approved in PA, No Launch Date Announced

Sean Chaffin October 28, 2020
Interactive gaming was approved on Wednesday for BetMGM/Roar Digital.

After some stops and starts, Pennsylvania online poker players received good news on Wednesday. The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) approved an interactive gaming license for BetMGM/Roar Digital.

The two companies partner in the US to offer the partypoker US Network in the US. Pennsylvania would make the platform’s second state offering online poker.

However, a potential launch date hasn’t been announced and Roar officials had no comment.

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Getting the online poker party started in PA?

A new poker site in PA would give players at least another option. Under PGCB regulations, the MGM/Roar is recognized as a Qualified Gaming Entity (QGE). That means it operates as a stand-alone entity and doesn’t need a land-based partner.

The PGCB also approved the company for sports betting (although it would need a land-based partner) and other real money online casino gaming. Party’s possible entry into the market comes after some hiccups along the way. 

The company was expected to be approved in August. PGCB chief enforcement counsel Cyrus Pitre spoke on the subject at the group’s July 8 meeting.

However, that timeline was delayed and apparently shifted to October. Players will now be awaiting to see when the platform might launch.

In Pennsylvania, players would find another “ringed-in” online poker option. That means users can only play others within the state. PokerStars already operates in this manner.

WSOP.com operates the only shared liquidity pact among Nevada, New Jersey, and with 888poker in Delaware. The future of interstate compacts remains unknown until the legal challenges regarding the Wire Act play out.

What to expect from a partypoker launch

Partypoker remains one of the best known online poker sites in the world. The company offers a nice software experience and has made major improvements to its mobile app in recent months.

In New Jersey, the platform also includes the BetMGM and BorgataPoker.com skins. It’s unknown if there will be additional skins in PA.

In recent months, party has ramped up some of its offerings in New Jersey. The company partners with the World Poker Tour for live and online events internationally.

That has also carried over to two recent events in New Jersey. The WPT Online Borgata Series in September featured 11 events and an overall guarantee of $275,000. The series proved a hit and ultimately paid out $912,000.

Pennsylvania offers a nice opportunity for even more events like this if the platform launches. With a population of almost 13 million, the state is the largest with legalized online poker. That’s about 4 million more than in the Garden State.

Partypoker could help grow PA market

PokerStars launched in the Keystone State in November 2019 and has had a poker monopoly for almost a full year. The company has seen nice revenue in the state to coincide with other operators in New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware.

While revenue numbers have declined in recent months, those are still at historically high levels. In September, PokerStars achieved online poker revenue of $2.4 million after an August total of $2.7 million.

The site has brought major series like the PA Championship of Online Poker (PACOOP) and major events like Pennsyl-MANIA to the state.

The partypoker approval could bring a second player in the market. The company has been bullish in recent years on expansion and that includes the US.

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More PA live poker rooms reopen

Beyond online poker, many players have been happy to see live poker return in the Keystone State. Mount Airy was the first to return on Oct. 16. Others that have returned recently include:

  • Meadows Racetrack and Casino
  • Mohegan Sun Pocono
  • Rivers Philadelphia

PA casinos began reopening in June under added safety protocols. However, poker rooms haven’t been a part of that until now. As gamblers head back to casinos, PGCB officials expect the poker re-openings to spur table game revenues up further.

In September, table games accounted for $59.2 million in casino revenue. That’s down from August’s $65.1 million and $70.6 million in September 2019. 

“The reopening of poker rooms will add to the positive performance of table games,” PGCB executive director Kevin O’Toole noted in Wednesday’s meeting about the recent reopening of live poker rooms.

Many Pennsylvania players are also hoping a new online poker room heads their way soon as well. USPoker will continue to update this story as more details emerge.

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