As in New Jersey, where online gaming was legalized in 2013, a Pennsylvania bill would likely reserve online licenses for live casinos operating within the state. With brick and mortar partnerships a prerequisite for market entry, PokerStars and other platforms are now exploring their options.
Who can PokerStars rule out in PA?
Thirteen casinos are currently licensed in Pennsylvania, but Sheldon Adelson’s Sands Bethlehem will be a nonstarter for PokerStars, and two others have already announced partnerships with PokerStars’ competitors should pending legislation succeed.
Parx announced plans to team with the UK-based GameAccount Network, and major Pennsylvania player Mount Airy locked in an early deal with 888.
Industry sources have likewise reported a partnership in place between the Philadelphia-area Valley Forge Casino Resort and Bwin.Party, which operates the PartyPoker platform.
Harrah’s has not yet announced a partner in Pennsylvania, but the casino is currently teamed with 888 in New Jersey.
Who remains a possibility?
Of the eight remaining potential partners, PokerStars finds its most likely ally in Mohegan, which operates Pennsylvania’s Pocono Downs.
The two companies are currently partnered in New Jersey through the Mohegan-managed Resorts AC, with PokerStars’ New Jersey launch set for the second half of 2015. Given a comparable arrangement already in place one state over, Mohegan and Amaya seem poised to forge ahead in Pennsylvania.
Currently under construction in Philadelphia is The Cordish Company’s Live! Hotel & Casino. With plans to open its doors in 2016, Live! could turn to the highly-visible PokerStars platform as a means to generate early buzz and revenue.
Other prospects for PokerStars in the state include Lady Luck, Rivers, SugarHouse, Penn National Race Course, Presque, and The Meadows.
While PokerStars would only need to secure one partnership to break into a potentially booming Pennsylvania market, the company would not necessarily need to stop there. In California, Amaya recently debuted an alliance with a host of tribal governments and card clubs, and the company may look to adopt a similar approach in Pennsylvania.