* Updating an earlier version of this story.
After 888poker was recently approved by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB), a WSOP.com launch in the Keystone State seemed close. That now appears to be delayed until 2021 USPoker has learned.
Despite the recent launch of several online pages related to WSOP.com Pennsylvania, a launch appears to be on hold.
WSOP.com partners with 888poker for its software in the US. The recent PA online additions included co-branding with WSOP’s partner casino in the state – Harrah’s Philadelphia.
Many players in the state have been eagerly awaiting another poker option and that now appears delayed.
PokerStars entered the state in November 2019, but players should have an alternative.
While early reports had launch set soon, new information now points to a 2021 launch. USPoker is tracking more news surrounding this issue.
What to expect from WSOP.com PA when there is a launch
Unlike players in New Jersey and Nevada, players in the Keystone State will welcome in a “ringed-in” WSOP poker market. That means players will only battle against others within the state when the platform finally arrives,
The state hasn’t approved interstate compacts yet because of the issues surrounding the Wire Act.
The Department of Justice has argued the act applies to other forms of online gaming outside sports. The DOJ has lost the first round in court, but the issue remains in appeals court.
PokerStars has been operating in the same environment and found some success. The addition of WSOP.com adds some momentum to the US online poker. While revenue has declined in recent months, 2020 numbers are way up year over year.
Andrew Langston is a 27-year-old recreational player living in York, PA. He is active in PA poker Facebook groups and is a regular online player.
He believes many players in his home state will be excited for a second online poker option. Langston hopes his home state can be a real leader in regulated US online poker.
“I honestly think it will be great,” Langston says. “While PokerStarsPA has overall been a great addition to poker In the state, it does have its flaws. I think a little competition in the Pennsylvania market will only be good for the players.
“I haven’t done any research yet, but I would hope we will be able to compete with New Jersey and Nevada and be eligible for WSOP events in the future.”
Some competition in the state should make all sites better, Langston believes.
“I think players were excited when PokerStars came to the state but have had some growing pains with them,” he says. “I think a fresh start with WSOP will help give us options and force PokerStars to listen to the players or lose them to a rival site.”
Some details on WSOP.com
WSOP.com is the online arm of the World Series of Poker and operated by Caesars Interactive Entertainment. While no launch date has been announced yet, Caesars received approval from the PGCB earlier this year.
The company already operates online casino gaming in PA. Now with 888 also receiving approval, an evenutual poker launch seems inevitable.
In its new online branding, WSOP.com detailed the legalese surrounding the new PA site. The operator has also launched some bonus and information pages, but that appears to have been removed.
WSOP.com remains the US market leader because of its presence in three states, known as the All American Poker Network.
In New Jersey, 888 also operates its own online poker platform. That site as well 888’s Delaware online poker platform, shares player pools with Nevada and New Jersey.
It remains unknown if 888 will also run its own poker skin in PA. WSOP officials would offer no information on when to expect a launch.
WSOP executive director Ty Stewart had no comment but noted that, “it is the goal to be able to have shared liquidity for all states including PA and Michigan.”
WSOP.com adds the cachet of the annual poker series that debuted in Las Vegas in 1970. Players in NJ and Nevada have the opportunity to win WSOP Circuit championship rings as well as online gold bracelets as at the live series.
No plans have been announced in this regard, but PA players should expect some interesting tournament options. WSOP/888 offer players a more narrow number of game variations – Texas Hold’em and Omaha.
Many rounders in the state will simply be pleased to have another option.
Expanding the market, gaining some online poker momentum
PA would make a nice addition to the All American network – doubling the number of players available. The four states with legalized online online poker have populations of:
- Pennsylvania –12.8 million
- New Jersey – 8.9 million
- Nevada – 3.1 million
- Delaware – 974,000
A future PA addition to the network would bring the All American Poker Network to cover almost 26 million people. Michigan and West Virginia have also legalized online poker but are still in the licensing and regulation stages.
A positive ruling in the Wire Act case could offer even more opportunities for the slowly growing US online market. The Michigan Senate approved a bill legalizing interstate compacts on Sept. 30. The House was expected to do the same.
An interstate compact would also be ideal for West Virginia, a rural state that would struggle as its own market.
A federal appeals court heard arguments in the Wire Act case in June. A ruling is expected soon and could have major ramifications on iGaming beyond poker.
If things continue to go in the gaming industry’s direction, this could offer a shot at major growth in online poker. Adding Pennsylvania to interstate compacts could offer even bigger player and prize pools.
USPoker will monitor the Pennsylvania situation as more information becomes available.
Anthony Cicali III contributed to this report.
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