After months of waiting, poker players in Pennsylvania received some good news on Wednesday. According to comments from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB), PokerStars is expected to launch on Nov. 4.
That will be a nice Monday for players in the state who have been waiting for poker to go live. With online sports betting and casino gaming already live, poker was the last piece of the puzzle.
PlayPennsylvania.com broke the story on Wednesday after a PGCB meeting. The comments indicate that the soft launch will get the online poker wave started.
“We have staff prepared to initiate and oversee a test launch this Monday of another online casino gaming site, this one licensed under Mount Airy Casino and their suite of casino-type games,” PGCB spokesman Douglas Harbach said. “At this juncture, it would include the testing of a poker game. The caveat is always that if issues come up, then the beginning of the testing could slide.”
PokerStars is apparently ready to go
Harbach didn’t name PokerStars as the online poker operator directly. However, as followers of the issue might already know, PokerStars has a partnership with Mount Airy.
The site confirmed the general timeline of the launch on Wednesday.
“We are very excited to be bringing our most popular brands to Pennsylvania in the next week, subject to regulatory approval,” PokerStars spokesperson Rebecca McAdam Willetts told USPoker. “Stay tuned for more details.”
Online gambling has been live since July 15, but no real money online poker options were yet available. That appears to be changing.
Online poker has been a popular topic in the state, with many Pennsylvanians contacting the control board. That could be a good sign for the state’s ability to generate sufficient player pools.
“There is no doubt there is a market out there for Pennsylvania poker players,” Harbach told PlayPennsylvania. “There is an excitement about it getting unveiled but, at this point, we are still waiting for the operators to be in a position to launch the poker games.”
PokerStars is the world’s biggest name in poker with millions of players around the world. Pennsylvania is the home for numerous well-known players, including 2015 WSOP Main Event champion Joe McKeehen.
Are other options coming soon?
This may not be the only option for players in the state. Two more may eventually be launching, giving players similar options as those in New Jersey. Those include the following platforms and their Pennsylvania partners:
So far, Pennsylvania would not have shared liquidity, but that possibility provides some nice upside for the markets. Uncertainty about the Wire Act may delay that possibility for some time, however.
Harbach’s comments about the market were echoed by Pennsylvania poker pro Zach Gruneberg. He says the state has a vibrant poker scene and expects many players to get back online.
“The feeling is that everyone is just getting a little impatient because everyone keeps hearing that it’s going to be soon,” he told USPoker in September.
“It will be good if we get online soon. Hopefully the prize pools will be connected to New Jersey pretty soon also. I’ve waited nine years since Black Friday, so it will be nice to get back online and start playing again.”