Pennsylvania online poker

Online poker is on the horizon for the state of Pennsylvania. Operators are gearing up for launch and the state is moving ahead eager for tax dollars. Here is a breakdown of everything you need to know about PA online poker.

The latest news on PA online poker

On Oct. 30, 2017, Gov. Tom Wolf signed bill H 271 into law making online gambling legal in Pennsylvania- including poker, casino and, sports betting. Currently, the only real-money interactive gaming site live is the Pennsylvania iLottery. However, this will be changing soon.

The PA Gaming Control Board (PGCB) is currently reviewing applications and awarding permits to operators. There are 13 casinos in Pennsylvania. Each could apply for three categories of interactive gaming licenses:

  • Slots
  • Table games
  • Peer-to-peer games like poker

Early in the process casinos had the option to purchase all three categories of interactive games as a full suite for a discounted $10 million.

Here is a look at all the casinos pursuing online poker and when they expect to launch:

CasinoOnline Gaming PartnerPGCB Approval DateProjected Launch Date
Harrah's Philadelphia888Aug. 15Q1 2019
Hollywood CasinoIGTSept. 12Q1 2019
Mount Airy CasinoThe Stars GroupAug. 15Q1 2019
Parx CasinoGANAug. 252019
Sands BethlehemNoneOct. 3Unknown
SugarHouse CasinoRush Street InteractiveSept. 12Q1 2019
Valley Forge CasinoIGT/GANSept. 122019

Outside entities trying to get into PA online poker

As stated above, there are 39 available interactive gaming permits. Of those, the following are unclaimed:

  • Five online poker
  • Three online slots
  • Three online table games

During the month of October, PGCB opened up the process to apply for these remaining permits. Casino companies outside of Pennsylvania could submit for approval as a qualified gaming entity (QGE).

Pennsylvania gaming law describes a qualified gaming entity as:

“… a gaming entity licensed in any jurisdiction which has satisfied the requirements of this chapter and any other criteria established by the board, including financial and character suitability requirements.”

This could be a casino corporation operating out of state, or an overseas gaming company.

In the end, only two petitioners submitted QGE applications to the state. Those companies are MGM and Golden Nugget. Both parties have existing relationships and deals connecting them to Pennsylvania, but there is serious upside to entering the market as an independent.

MGM hopes to offer online poker. Golden Nugget, on the other hand, does not offer online poker in New Jersey and does not plan to in Pennsylvania either.

The earliest the PGCB will review these applications is at the Dec. 19 meeting.

What’s next for online poker in Pennsylvania?

There isn’t a timeframe for launch, but operators are putting in work behind the scenes to get to market as quickly as possible. PGCB still has some unanswered questions regarding regulations and permits, as regs are still temporary and not permanent. However, there is pressure from the state to start collecting tax dollars to cover the budget deficit.

With everything moving full steam ahead, it is likely there will be legal online poker in Pennsylvania in early 2019.

Where to play live and online poker in PA

Live poker is very popular in Pennsylvania. Ten of the twelve casinos have poker rooms, with 225 tables operating between them.

Currently, there are seven confirmed online poker licenses with Mohegan Sun Pocono still pending. Each casino is allowed to partner with multiple interactive platforms or brands usually referred to as “skins.” The trick is each of these skins needs to prominently feature the name of the PA casino partner.

Here is the landscape of the casinos who have applied for online poker permits and their prospective partners in Pennsylvania.

Harrah’s Philadelphia

Harrah’s Philadelphia is a Caesars Entertainment property, so they will continue the long-standing alliance with 888. This means you can probably expect to see 888 Poker alongside the brand.

Hollywood Casino at Penn National

One of the first regulators approved, Hollywood Casino is a Penn National Gaming property. During the application process, Penn revealed it is working with IGT on its online gambling platform, including online poker.

Mohegan Sun Pocono

Mohegan Sun missed out on the early bird discount. Nonetheless, the property paid $12 million to apply to all three categories of interactive gaming individually.

Mohegan has worked with PokerStars and The Stars Group in its role as the property manager of Resorts Casino in Atlantic City. With that in mind, a TSG partnership seems like the most likely development for the property.

Mount Airy Resort Casino

Mount Airy confirmed its partnership with The Stars Group earlier in 2018. The Stars Group is the parent company of sites like BetStars and PokerStars. As part of the deal, there will be a full suite of Stars online products, including poker, on the Mount Airy license.

Parx Casino

Parx announced their partnership with GAN to cover PA online gambling. They will be offering online gambling with sports betting integration help from a third-party operator, Kambi.

Sands Bethlehem

The Poarch Band of Creek Indians purchased Sands Bethlehem earlier this year for $1.3 billion. This will be the first Pennsylvania effort for the tribal gaming group from Mississippi.

Accordingly, the previous owners, Las Vegas Sands Corporation, applied for the full suite of interactive permits on the buyers’ behalf. PGCB granted approval on the licenses but plans are still hazy on execution. The Poarch Band of Creek Indians still do not officially own the property, which means they cannot move forward on any major online plans until the sale is finalized.

SugarHouse Casino

Rush Street Gaming owns two properties in Pennsylvania, SugarHouse and Rivers. Play SugarHouse is the interactive brand. In fact, it is lready active in New Jersey under the Golden Nugget license.

Rush Street has an in-house interactive division. Thanks to that staff, the company is a step ahead by already having their products live in New Jersey. They also have a sportsbook already live in the state.

Valley Forge

Boyd Gaming owns the Valley Forge property. Boyd has a long-standing alliance with GVC/partypoker. So, Valley Forge is expected to be the home of partypoker.

Online poker law in Pennsylvania

Once permits and operators are sorted by PGCB, the organization will start clearing casinos to launch their online poker product.

However, the regulations for these sites are still being put together by PAGCB. Based on the temporary regulations on gambling expansion, you can expect the following poker rules:

  • Players must be 21 or older.
  • Sites must verify identification
  • Players must be inside state lines to play for real money
  • Sites must verify player location within the borders of Pennsylvania using geolocation software
  • Operators must pay a 16 percent online gambling tax on gross revenue

If that 16 percent sounds like a lot, it is actually the lowest of the online gambling rates. Slots will  be taxed at 54 percent, while online sports betting is taxed at 34 percent.