On Oct. 30, 2017, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf signed into law a gambling expansion package that legalized and regulated online casino games, plus daily fantasy sports and sports betting.
The first three online casinos in Pennsylvania launched on July 15, 2019, and five more are expected before the end of the year. Five online sportsbooks and sports betting apps are also already live with more to come.
Online poker is still to come, although it’s on the near horizon with PokerStars Pennsylvania due to launch imminently.
The new legislation legalizes a diverse range of online gaming activity, including:
- Online casinos in Pennsylvania
- Online poker in Pennsylvania
- Video gambling terminals (VGTs)
- Daily fantasy sports (DFS)
- Satellite casinos
- Sports betting (dependent on the Supreme Court ruling)
Pennsylvania online casinos
Casinos first became legal in Pennsylvania in 2004. Today, Pennsylvania boasts the sixth largest population in the U.S., and it generates more gaming tax revenue for the state than Nevada.
The gambling industry is heavily taxed in Pennsylvania which means a casino must consider its impact before it enters the online casino market. Even so, most, if not all of the land-based casinos are expected to join the online gaming market.
Pennsylvania online casinos were estimated to earn approximately $154 million in revenue during Year 1. The projection is consistent with New Jersey’s online casino performance.
Evidence suggests the revenue will come from new customers, not necessarily existing ones, as online casinos have a far greater reach.
Pennsylvania Casinos Online Poker
At least seven Pennsylvania online casinos have applied for licenses with partners to provide online poker along with their casino games. They are:
- Mount Airy (PokerStars)
- Harrah’s (888/WSOP)
- Valley Forge (partypoker)
- Hollywood Casino
- Wind Creek
Pennsylvania casino partnerships
In anticipation of legalized online gambling, retail casinos several years ago began forging partnerships with software platforms and online casinos operating in New Jersey. As mentioned seven are licensed for online poker so far; here’s a look at a few of the partnerships.
Mount Airy Casino (PokerStars)
Mount Airy Casino surprised many in Pennsylvania when it signed a deal with PokerStars in August 2018. It will launch the first online poker site in Pennsylvania in the Fall of 2019.
As part of Caesars Entertainment, Harrah’s operates as WSOP.com in a partnership with 888. It is the only company currently offering online gambling products in both Nevada and New Jersey.
Valley Forge (partypoker)
Once the most trafficked poker site in the world, partypoker has surged back into international prominence in recent years. Massive online tournament guarantees, drastically improved software and a burgeoning partypoker Live tour have also had a big impact. It’s expected Valley Forge and partypoker will launch their co-branded online poker site in 2020.
Mohegan Sun Pocono
The tribal operator manages the operations of Resorts Casino in Atlantic City. Resorts online casino teamed up with software provider NYX to offer a suite of online casino games. Additionally, PokerStars operates under Resorts’ license in New Jersey. Of note: Scientific Games acquired NYX in January 2018.
Even though Parx had some reservations about online gaming, they signed a multi-year agreement with software provider GAN back in 2014. Parx is already building a potential customer base with a social casino using GAN’s software.
Rivers and Sugarhouse
Rivers in Pittsburgh and SugarHouse Casino in Philadelphia are both owned by Rush Street Gaming. PlaySugarHouse.com operates under Golden Nugget’s online casino license in New Jersey. There is some speculation that Rush Street is eyeing NYX/Scientific Games for its Pennsylvania online casino.
Pennsylvania online casino FAQ
How old does a player need to be to gamble online in Pennsylvania?
Players must be 21 years of age or older to play online casino games or online poker in Pennsylvania. Fantasy sports enthusiasts must be 18 to participate in daily fantasy sports contests.
Do players need to live in Pennsylvania to play online casino games?
Players do not need to be a resident of Pennsylvania to play online casino games or online poker. However, players must physically be located in the state to participate.
When will online casino games go live in Pennsylvania?
There is speculation the first online casino will go live toward the end of 2018. The application for online casino licenses is currently underway, and there are no firm dates at this time.
How will online casinos know if a player is in Pennsylvania?
Regulated online casino sites use geolocation services to determine a player’s location. A player whose location cannot be verified will not be able to access online casino games.