The Three-Horse Race For PA Online Poker Dominance

August 17, 2018
The Three-Horse Race For PA Online Poker Dominance

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board approved the state’s first three online gambling licenses this week. It’s a move that sets up what looks to be a three-horse race for online poker dominance in Pennsylvania.

The board approved licenses to operate online slots, online table games, and online poker for:

  • Parx Casino in Bensalem
  • Harrah’s Philadelphia Casino & Racetrack in Chester
  • Mount Airy Casino Resort in Mount Pocono

Online casino products aside, these three PA casinos are now poised to begin a battle for PA online poker prominence.

Parx Casino PA online poker

Parx Casino runs the largest and highest grossing poker room in the state, giving it an inherent advantage in this race from the start. It also hosts the most popular poker tournament series in the state. Leveraging all that success by running cross promotions and a robust online satellite series for its Parx Big Stax series five times annually could make its online poker room the state’s most popular all on its own.

If there’s one thing holding it back, it’s Parx online gambling software supplier: GAN. GAN hasn’t really been a part of the online poker software industry before now. So, there’s no telling what its online poker software will look like. Parx may still look elsewhere for an online poker software partner. Unless it believes it can buck industry trends which have always proven that great software is the key to success.

Mount Airy Casino Resort PA online poker

PokerStars grew to become the top online poker site in the planet on the back of the best software in the industry. It will launch a PokerStars PA site with partner Mount Airy Casino Resort, a move that gives Mount Airy a real opportunity to have the state’s top online poker room despite the casino’s remote locale and lack of poker-related name recognition.

In fact, if great software really is the key to success in any online poker market, the other players in PA are going to have a tough time competing with Mount Airy and PokerStars.

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Harrah’s Philadelphia Casino & Racetrack PA online poker

Of course, the Caesars Entertainment World Series of Poker-branded online poker site has been giving PokerStars a run for its money in New Jersey of late. Not because of the 888 Poker software it runs on, but because of the fact it is the only site with partners in Nevada and Delaware, giving it the opportunity to take advantage of a recently signed agreement allowing online poker sites to share player pools in those three states.

Bigger player pools mean bigger tournament prize pools and more cash game action. Two of the only things that truly drive traffic in the online poker industry.

Since Harrah’s Philadelphia Casino & Racetrack is a Caesars Entertainment property, it will most likely launch a World Series of Poker-branded online poker site of its own in PA.

However, all signs point to PA waiting at least a year before it signs on to the multi-state agreement. That means the PA site will ultimately compete for the top spot among PA online poker rooms. However, it probably won’t be doing so right away.

SugarHouse and Rivers PA online poker

Six other casino license holders have applied for licenses to operate online casinos and online poker rooms. Therefore, others may still surprise everyone and steal the state’s online poker crown.

Rush Street Gaming and its SugarHouse Casino in Philadelphia and Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh have made significant investments in live poker recently. Most involve leveraging the popularity of its Poker Night in America TV show. Rush Street’s true PA online poker intentions remain unclear. However, SugarHouse and Rivers are the state’s two most populated cities. Meaning they will be playing to a larger audience from a cross-promotional perspective. Something that will likely help them compete with PA online poker’s big three.

That said, Parx, Harrah’s, and Mount Airy are more than just the first to get Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board approval. They are the clear favorites to lead the state’s budding online poker industry from the get-go, in what will likely be a heated battle.

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