PA Gaming Review: Online Poker Home Games Offer Shred Of Normalcy

Posted on April 8, 2020

Life in the new normal continues to ripple through Pennsylvania’s gambling landscape. The overall shutdown has presented a new challenge to policing the proliferation of illegal gambling machines in the Commonwealth. Live! Casino in Philadelphia appears likely to shutdown over COVID- 19 concerns as well.

Risk factors for problem gamblers have increased in the current order of things. And on the plus side, there’s a way to replicate your Friday night poker game with the same old set of pals at the virtual table.

We’ll save that bit of redemptive news for last.

Problem gambling factors ratchet up with the virus

Pennsylvania is only one of four states with legal online casinos that offer an alternative way to play while retail casinos remain shut.

Factors associated with problem gambling that are exacerbated during the coronavirus pandemic are social isolationanxietystress, and depression. Sound familiar?

Yeah, that’s potentially a big problem, according to Keith Whyte, executive director of the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG), an advocacy organization for people and their families affected by problem gambling.

PlayPennsylvania reviewed the issue and looked at tools for preventing and dealing with problem gambling, such as helplines and websites.

Virus worries prompted a union walkout in Philly

Construction at the massive Live! Hotel & Casino in South Philadelphia is facing a shutdown that could blow its plans to open by New Years.

Work had continued during the virus shutdown based on a waiver, but it looks as if work will need to stop as soon as the building is secured.

But Sheet Metal Workers President Gary Masino ordered his men off the project this week.

Illegal gambling devices still targeted during virus shutdowns

Between 15,000 and 20,000 unauthorized gambling devices operate in PA, many in bars and restaurants that were ordered closed except for takeout.

But the shutdown order hasn’t stopped wagering on the unregulated devices. Aware of that, the PA State Police have checked 12,877 establishments during the shutdown.

In just two weeks, 53 warnings were issued, and four places have more serious but pending administrative violations.

Two places had their liquor licenses suspended by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) for failing to abide by the governor’s order.

And more localized enforcement is soon to begin, funded by enforcement grants from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB).

Online poker home games follow social distancing rules

Need some normalcy? But want to do the right thing and follow social distancing rules?

Try online poker home games at PokerStars PA. We offer a step-by-step guide to setting up your own.

Players within Pennsylvania can set up real-money cash games or tournaments with others in the state.

Or if you want to play with friends outside of Pennsylvania, you can also do that, but only for play money.

And for a chance at some large prize money, there is of course the PASCOOP series running now through April 20. Find the full remaining schedule here.

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Kevin Shelly Avatar
Written by
Kevin Shelly

Kevin C. Shelly is an award-winning career journalist who has spent most of his career in South Jersey. He's the former assistant city editor of The Press of Atlantic City, where he covered the casino industry and Atlantic City government as a reporter. He was also an investigative, narrative enterprise, and features reporter for Gannett’s Courier-Post.

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