​​Pennsylvania Poker No Longer Top Market With Lack Of Multi-State Agreement

Written By Hill Kerby on November 12, 2023
Image of poker chips and a keyboard for a story about PA online poker losing its top spot for market share within the US.

Pennsylvania online poker is not No. 1 in the US anymore. That title now belongs to Michigan, which overtook Pennsylvania’s trailing 12-month market share despite having 2.3 million fewer residents. Michigan’s market share reached 29% at the end of Q3 2023, surpassing Pennsylvania’s 28.89%.

New Jersey was third with a 26.59% market share.

Pennsylvania online poker has dropped in this area notably because of its lack of participation in the interstate poker compact.

PA online poker utilizes limited player pool

After launching in 2019, the Keystone State quickly became the nation’s top poker market, surpassing those in New Jersey and Nevada. The same went for Michigan when it first went live in January 2021.

However, those three states participate in the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement (MSIGA), which allows players to compete across state lines in tournaments and cash games. New Jersey and Nevada began sharing player pools on WSOP.com in 2019, and PokerStars players in Michigan and New Jersey merged at the start of 2023.

Meanwhile, Pennsylvania poker remains ring-fenced, limiting its player pool to those within state lines. The player pool is strong for what it is, with successful online events run throughout the year from the following operators:

Nonetheless, its ceiling will stay capped if Pennsylvanians can only play against each other.

Interstate poker compact takes other states to new heights

We can trace Michigan and New Jersey’s growth in 2023 directly to entering into an interstate compact to share player pools on PokerStars. It’s a classic example of the adage, “If you build it, they will come.”

PokerStars’ combining player pools in MI and NJ immediately resulted in larger tournament prize pools and increased cash game volume.

And it turns out that was only the beginning. The larger tournaments and better cash game offerings attracted more players onto the site, planting the seeds for a growth cycle that led to both states outperforming Pennsylvania on a “per-adult” basis. 

  • Michigan: 29% market share; 7.48 million adults
  • Pennsylvania: 28.89% market share; 9.78 million adults
  • New Jersey: 26.59% market share; 6.91 million adults

Pennsylvania has lost more than 4% of the market share in six months. Its 33% Q1 total dropped to 30% at the end of June, before falling below 29% after September.

Conversely, Michigan and New Jersey’s market shares increased from their June totals of 28.7% and 25.8%, respectively.

Online poker PA joining MSIGA would raise the bar for everyone 

Ready for another great adage? “A rising tide lifts all ships.”

New Jersey and Michigan’s joining forces have enabled both states to increase their market shares. That means more revenue and, in turn, more tax money for both states. 

Pennsylvania entering the MSIGA would raise the revenue ceiling for every state involved. Tournaments and cash games will get an immediate boost from combining player pools, and that will attract more new players from all markets.

Additionally, more MSIGA participation strengthens the perception of a regulated interstate poker market. This can incentivize and catalyze additional states to legalize online poker (and interstate online poker).

Momentum has grown over the last year to bring interstate online poker to Pennsylvania. Earlier this year, PokerStars PA ambassador and Twitch streamer, Keith Becker, started an advocacy campaign and enlisted other like-minded players to contact local politicians.

All that said, government operations tend to move slowly. It took Michigan two years to launch interstate poker, even with the state’s online poker law having MSIGA-inclusive language from day one.

Two things are for sure. An MSIGA with Pennsylvania is stronger than one without it, and the sooner it joins, the better off everyone becomes.

Photo by Shutterstock.com
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Hill Kerby

Hill Kerby comes from a background of poker, sports and psychology. He brings all of that expertise into his writing, where he contributes content in the growing legalized sports betting, online casino and gambling industry.

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