Pennsylvania was the fourth US state to officially legalize online poker. Real money online poker arrived in 2019 when PokerStars officially soft launched its PA online poker site on Nov. 4.
Since that launch, poker players in PA have seen the lineup of tournaments and cash games expand, traffic grow and prize pools increase. The upcoming PA Spring Championship of Online Poker, starting April 4, is guaranteeing $2 million across 70-85 tournaments.
Best online poker sites in Pennsylvania
Play online poker in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania legalized online poker (along with online casino games, sports betting, lottery and others) in October 2017. After PA online casinos and sports betting launched in July 2019, the only remaining gaming option yet to launch was poker.
That changed on Nov. 4, 2019.
PokerStars, through its partnership with Mount Airy Casino Resort, was the first poker site to launch in Pennsylvania. While PokerStars is the largest poker operator in the world with millions of players, you can only play against other poker players in PA for now – although an online compact among other legal US poker states is possible in the future.
Still, since its launch PokerStars PA has seen a surge of interest and PA poker players can expect to find:
- An expanded weekly tournament schedule and boosted nightly guarantees
- Increased cash game and tournament traffic
- Lots of game variations including Hold’em, Omaha & 8-Game plus Sit & Go’s
- Frequent promotions and bonuses
The bonus currently offered at PokerStars PA consists of either $30 free if deposit $20 using marketing code FREE30, or a bonus match up to $600 using marketing code STARS600, not both. Claim your PokerStars bonus and download the PokerStars PA software or app now right here:
PokerStars PA (Mount Airy Casino Resort)
With its debut in Pennsylvania in November 2019, PokerStars became the first real money online poker site in the state. The company still remained the only poker platform in the state as of April 2020.
PokerStars is the most popular online poker company in the world with millions of players on a daily basis. In Pennsylvania, the company operates a “fenced in” environment, meaning only those within PA are in its player pool. Despite this, the company has been able to build nice cash game and tournament pools.
Along with PA, the company also has become the market leader of online poker in New Jersey. Its smooth software and recreational player-friendly bent has found similar success in Pennsylvania.
The Mount Airy Casino is not a major live poker destination by any means—its nine-table poker room is the second smallest of the casinos which offer poker in PA—but the casino enacted quite the coup by snagging a partnership with PokerStars.
PokerStars PA Marketing Code
PokerStars players in PA can receive the same universal bonuses PokerStars players can access in NJ. Those bonuses are:
- Deposit $20 and Get $30 free play
- Marketing code: FREE30
The first bonus is paid out as:
- $10 in cash within 36 hours
- $10 after 7 days
- 5 Spin & Go tickets worth $10 total
The up to $600 match bonus at 100% is accessed with the marketing code:
The deposit bonus clears at a rate of $10 per $18.18 in rake paid. Players have four months to clear their full bonus.
New players also get:
- Free entry into a $5,000 depositor freeroll
- 1 million in Play-Money chips
PokerStars PA Poker App
As PokerStars users around the world know well, the PokerStars client and poker app are the best of the best. Designed and implemented by poker players for poker players, the PokerStars software is unmatched by its competitors.
The poker client is Pennsylvania is no different. You’ll get all of the premium functionality and customization of the full PokerStars client as you’d find it in New Jersey and around the world.
You’ll also benefit from the slick and efficient PokerStars PA app, which is downloadable for both iOS (iPhone/iPad) and Android. While the fully downloadable desktop client has all the bells and whistles, the app isn’t far behind. Tournament and cash game lobbies, the cashier, game and player stats and your account details are all easily accessed and managed strictly via the app.
PokerStars PA Tournaments
Since launching in November 2019, PokerStars has been receptive to player demand and run several major tournament series. The PA Championship of Online Poker ran through mid-December and proved popular with players.
The event was so popular that the initial $1 million guarantee was boosted twice to $1.25 million. However, the series attracted more than 13,400 entries – paying out more than $1.5 million.
The $300 Main Event attracted 660 entries for a $179,200 prize pool – a hefty bump over the $150,000 guarantee. Overall, it was a nice start for PA online poker.
The site geared up for another big series after that, running the first Bounty Builder Series for 10 days in February 2020. The series is also a mainstay in other PokerStars markets.
More recently PokerStars announced the PA Spring Championship of Online Poker would play out in April 2020. The site also runs similar events in New Jersey.
PokerStars PA was seeing nice turnouts and daily cash game and tournament traffic was regularly surpassing New Jersey since the first months of operation.
Other real money poker sites in Pennsylvania
There are seven PA casinos with permits in hand to offer online poker so it’s just a matter of the other operators getting their poker sites and poker apps ready for release. Among the others expected to launch alongside PokerStars soon are:
- Harrah’s Casino Philadelphia
- Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course
- Parx Casino
- Wind Creek Bethlehem Casino Resort (Formerly Sands)
- Rivers Casino (Formerly SugarHouse)
- Valley Forge Casino Resort
All have received conditional approval from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board to proceed with interactive gaming. All except one casino (Sands Bethlehem) should open its online poker sites for business by the end of 2020.
Harrah’s Casino Philadelphia
Harrah’s will be a frontrunner for top spot in the PA online poker market when it launches. The Philadelphia-area casino is part of Caesars Entertainment, which also owns and produces the World Series of Poker (WSOP).
As of April 2020, WSOP.com hadn’t launched in PA yet. However, the site now runs major events among players in the shared liquidity markets in both Nevada (WSOP NV) and New Jersey (WSOP NJ). That also includes Delaware through its partner 888poker.
As of spring 2020, WSOP.com tournament series were achieving record fields. This exposed many more players to its online poker product as well as reviving, at least for the time being, the American online poker industry. Many well-known poker pros have thrived online and scored in events like the Online Super Series.
Using a platform fashioned by partner 888Poker, Harrah’s will be the stop for Pennsylvanians who want a chance to play in the WSOP Main Event and related WSOP Circuit events.
Even if WSOP.com does enter the PA market, shared liquidity seems unlikely as of now. PA gaming law doesn’t allow for shared liquidity currently. The state is a “fenced in” online poker market, meaning only players within the state are allowed to play each other.
There has been speculation that could change after legal disputes among the federal government and various states regarding the Wire Act are cleared up. That remained an issue as of April 2020.
Valley Forge Casino
Valley Forge is in a unique situation because it has approval for online poker but no strategic partner. However, do not be deceived: Valley Forge’s partner is all but decided already.
There have been interactions between the casino and PartyPoker since at least 2015. Although the situation for PartyPoker in America was rough for a time, the company has emerged as another strong poker option.
Even more importantly, PartyPoker is now the property of GVC. In return, GVC is a strategic partner with MGM Resorts. Resorts, in turn, has an access agreement with Boyd Gaming. Boyd purchased Valley Forge in September 2018.
So, there is a circular quality to the road joining Valley Forge and PartyPoker together. Nevertheless, a deal for Pennsylvania between the two companies seems likely in the next few months.
While not in the same pole position as Harrah’s, Mount Airy or Valley Forge, Hollywood Casino may still be part of the first wave of casinos with online poker. The casino’s parent, Penn National, has a longstanding relationship with software developer IGT.
IGT is not as well-known for its poker products as it is for its slot machine design. However, it is not a neophyte when it comes to the creation of a poker platform. In fact, all of Canada’s state-operated poker sites are powered by IGT software.
The only hesitation about Penn National has been the company’s seeming desire to be first in sports betting. The casino group has won the race to be first-to-market for sports betting in both West Virginia and Pennsylvania.
Many in the industry believed the company would launch online poker by the end of 2019, but that hasn’t been the case. The company hasn’t commented on it as of April 2020.
On paper, Parx would seem to be leading the charge into the online poker market in Pennsylvania. The casino is the unabashed market leader on the land-based side of things.
Even more appealingly, Parx has strategic partnerships with not one, but two software partners. Both GAN and Kambi have signed deals to assist the Bensalem casino’s transition into the virtual sphere.
However, neither GAN or Kambi are particularly experienced or regarded as poker providers. If anything, the two companies have a stronger reputation in other casino gaming and sports betting. So, it’s a bit unclear if Parx has a big appetite for online poker or not.
Rivers Casino (Formerly SugarHouse Casino)
This popular casino rebranded as Rivers Casino Philadelphia in October 2019. The move puts the casino in line with its sister properties also branded as Rivers casinos in: Pittsburgh; Schenectady, New York; and Des Plaines, Illinois.
There have been no updates on an online poker launch from the company but it does have a strategic partner and does have approval to offer online poker. Its partner is also Kambi, though, which means that there is no background in online poker.
Rivers has prioritized getting its sports betting operation off the ground so may have a way to go before addressing an online poker product.
Wind Creek Bethlehem (Formerly Sands)
As of May 2019, the casino is now owned by Wind Creek Hospitality, an entity of Alabama’s Poarch Band of Creek Indians. The tribe bought the property from casino mogul Sheldon Adelson for $1.3 billion.
The Poarch Band owns three casinos in Alabama, race tracks in Florida and Alabama, and two casinos in the Caribbean. Wind Creek also manages a casino in Nevada.
Sands Bethlehem officially changed its name to Wind Creek Bethlehem in July 2019 to fall in line with the company’s other properties. The casino operates a 26-table live poker room, but no plans have been unveiled yet when it comes to online poker.
Pennsylvania online poker FAQ
Where can I play online poker in Pennsylvania?
Seven of Pennsylvania’s 12 casinos will offer online poker and one—PokerStars (Mount Airy)— launched before the end of 2019. partypoker (Valley Forge Casino) and 888poker/WSOP (Harrah’s) are expected to be live within 12 months.
Who is allowed to play online poker in Pennsylvania?
Anyone who is older than 21 years of age and inside the state lines will be able to play on any of Pennsylvania’s real money online poker sites.
You are also free to travel to New Jersey and play on any of the legal and regulated online poker sites in NJ.
How do poker sites know I’m in Pennsylvania?
As with other states, Pennsylvania requires that all online poker sites and apps use geolocation software to ensure players are logging into the site from instate. Companies like GeoComply specialize in this kind of software and are incredibly accurate for correctly placing players geographically. You’ll need to download the proper geo-location software along with the poker site software or app.
Will Pennsylvania join a poker compact with other states?
Probably. The gaming law expansion in 2017 allowed for interstate player pooling with other states that have online poker. So, potentially, Pennsylvania could join a player pool comprised of Nevada and New Jersey players to start and expand from there.
When will WSOP poker be available in PA?
No plans have been announced yet, but many believe WSOP.com might debut sometime in 2020. Caesars has been tight-lipped about that however. If that happens, WSOP.com would be a “ringed in” platform in the state to fall in line with state gaming regulations.
How many people play online poker in PA?
PokerStars PA was seeing improved numbers as of April 2020. An average day might see between 1,200 and 1,600 players. That may not be in line with the site’s international offerings, but a good turnout in a fenced-in state online poker environment.
Can players from other states play on Pennsylvania sites?
As of now, Pennsylvania poker is ring-fenced, which means you can only play against other players within the state.
Licensed states with interstate compacts with Pennsylvania could allow players to access the same pool of participants, but the recent Wire Act opinion has placed the multi-state compact in doubt.
If you are in a state that doesn’t offer regulated online poker, you CAN play on a PA online poker site if you travel to Pennsylvania. You CANNOT use a VPN to mask your real location (and make it appear as if you are in Pennsylvania). It will not work and will get your account closed permanently.
Does Pennsylvania allow online casino games?
Yes. In fact, there will be more online casinos than online poker rooms in Pennsylvania. More of the state’s casino interests applied for and have received a permit to offer online slot play and table games.
The law, H-271, was a massive expansion of Pennsylvania’s gaming opportunities and profile. The law made the following offerings (besides online poker) a possibility in Pennsylvania:
- 10 mini-casinos
- A specified number of slots and table games
- Must conform to geographic requirements to avoid competition with existing casinos
- Only five licenses awarded so far, and none more are expected
- Alterations to Category 3 casinos
- Removes membership fee,
- Permits more slots via a one-time fee
- Daily fantasy sports
- Online casino games (table games and slots)
- Online lottery sales
- Sports betting
- Contingent upon PASPA‘s dismissal, which occurred in May 2018
- Sports betting launched in November 2018
- Tablet gaming
- Available in authorized areas at specific airports
- Video gambling terminals
- Similar to slot machines
- Available only at specific truck stops