PokerStars PA Set For Early 2019 Launch As Competition Backs Off

November 30, 2018
PokerStars PA Set For Early 2019 Launch As Competition Backs Off

The world’s largest online poker site will launch in Pennsylvania in 2019 and its only other US casino partner has decided not to even try to compete with it.

At its Nov. 28 meeting, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) approved the PokerStars interactive gaming petition, opening the door for PokerStars to launch in PA in the first quarter of 2019.

PokerStars announced in August it had struck a deal to operate in PA under the license of Mount Airy Casino Resort. The pair also unveiled a plan to offer sports betting under the BetStars brand. However, neither has applied for a PA sports betting license to date.

Clearing the final PGCB hurdle this week means PokerStars will finally launch in a second US state in early 2019. PokerStars returned to the US in New Jersey in the spring of 2016. It had been five years after the US Department of Justice kicked PokerStars out of the country and charged its principals with various money laundering and illegal gambling offenses.

PokerStars has since changed ownership, restructured, and settled the case.

PokerStars and Mohegan Gaming

The company returned to the US operating its PokerStars NJ site under the Resorts Casino Hotel NJ online gambling license. Resorts Casino Hotel is managed by Connecticut’s Mohegan Tribe and Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment. Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment also owns and operates Mohegan Sun Pocono in PA.

At its Nov. 28 meeting, the PGCB also approved Mohegan Sun Pocono’s interactive gaming petition, but not before a change was made. Mohegan Sun Pocono decided to withdraw the online poker portion of its application. The PGCB approved the withdrawal, giving the casino a $2 million rebate on its $10 million licensing fee. Mohegan Sun Pocono will now move forward with an online slots and online table games operation. It is also expected to launch in early 2019.

In the meantime, PokerStars is set to begin what it hopes will quickly become an even larger expansion across the US.

The PokerStars Mount Airy online poker and casino site will begin operations in a fenced in PA market. However, operators are hopeful PA will sign the multi-state agreement with New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware within about a year. Of course, that will allow PokerStars to share player pools between its NJ and PA sites.

PokerStars’ Further US expansion

However, it is already making plans for even further US expansion.

On Nov. 26, PokerStars’ parent company The Stars Group announced it has entered into an agreement with growing US casino operator Eldorado Resorts, Inc. The deal gives The Stars Group the option to operate online sports betting and online gambling with Eldorado in 11 states where Eldorado operates.

The 11 states covered in the agreement are:

  • Colorado
  • Florida
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Louisiana
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Nevada
  • Ohio
  • West Virginia

None of these states, outside of Nevada, have passed legislation legalizing and regulating online poker.

However, Nevada online gambling laws may prevent PokerStars from entering the state’s online poker market. In fact, current online gambling law in Nevada includes “bad-actor” language. This institutes a lifetime ban on online poker operators who accepted US customers after the federal government passed The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006.

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