Pennsylvania poker players have been longing for the opportunity to join the interstate poker compact, also known as the Multi-State International Gaming Agreement (MSIGA). One PA player is taking matter into his own hands and leading a charge for it to come to fruition.
The Keystone State still has some hoops to jump through, especially with new Governor Josh Shapiro just taking office earlier this month.
Pennsylvania joining the poker compact would be a welcome addition to poker players across the state.
What is the interstate poker compact?
The interstate poker compact is an agreement in which poker players can compete in tournaments with players across other states.
This allows poker enthusiasts to compete with more players for better competition and also increases prize pools. In turn, it boosts tax revenue for the state, as well.
Michigan is the latest state to enter the compact in May 2022 and joins Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware.
Michigan just started reaping the benefits on Jan. 1, 2023, introducing a new player pool from New Jersey on PokerStars, who operates in both states. Michigan will be able to increase player pools to Nevada and Delaware soon once online poker apps become available in each state.
Pennsylvania is missing out on the action.
When is PA joining interstate poker?
Back in February 2022, it was unclear when Pennsylvania would join interstate poker.
Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) Communications Director Doug Harbach told PlayPennsylvania back in February:
“While the Board would be and has been involved in discussions, the Governor’s Office is the ultimate authority on entering such an agreement and they have taken the matter under advisement.”
Now that it is 2023, not much has changed. While nothing is likely to happen immediately after Shaprio just took office earlier this month, perhaps it’s higher on his priority list.
Momentum is mounting for PA to join interstate poker
Keith Becker, a PA poker player and Twitch streamer, has decided to take matters into his own hands.
Becker is starting his own grassroots advocacy campaign to gain momentum in bringing the interstate poker compact to Pennsylvania.
“The reason it’s so important to me is because I’ve always loved poker and I’d love the opportunity to compete against my fellow players in other states,” Becker said.
Right now, Becker has a team of 12 people looking to make pitches to those in power, specifically Gov. Shapiro, to move the ball forward.
“We carefully determined that the best course of action would be mounting an email campaign to people with positions of influence,” Becker said. “Most importantly that would be the new Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro, but also local government reps, members of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board and people that have an effect on this decision.”
Becker has sought counsel from a political advocacy and lobbying group before launching his plan. He’s ready to take his “organized plan of attack” to the public and bring interstate poker to Pennsylvania.
What is PA poker missing out on?
There is plenty that PA is missing out on not being part of interstate poker. Most simply, PA is left without these larger prize pools, which generate more revenue and players in general.
“There’s definitely some FOMO,” Becker said, as FOMO is short for Fear Of Missing Out. “There seems to be a lot of excitement.”
One of Becker’s friends, Dan Schill, resides in Michigan and will be the first to mention the excitement interstate poker has brought to the Wolverine State. Schill has played in multiple tournaments since the start of the new year against players from New Jersey.
He has already taken advantage of the larger prize pools and finished in second place in a shared $200 two-day Sunday Special, winning $23,700.
“There are typically not many tournaments that are offered where you’re going to have the ability to cash for that much,” Schill said. “The fact that we’ve already had multiple tournaments in the first several weeks of the merger where people are taking home more than $20,000 is a pretty awesome opportunity.”
Schill said a normal prize for a Sunday Special before the merger would take home roughly $8,000.
In addition to larger prize pools, Schill also noted that PA is missing out on larger player pools.
“I’m a member of the PA poker discord and you constantly see them post about needing some players to register for this tournament, otherwise it might not run,” Schill said. “If not enough people register, they’ll just cancel the tournament. To my knowledge, that has not happened since the merger. There’s enough of a player pool that every tournament is running.”