Looking to Join the PA Online Poker Party: partypoker Nearing Regulatory Approval

Posted on July 10, 2020 - Last Updated on September 21, 2020

A second online poker operator — partypoker PA — is likely to debut in Pennsylvania as early as August, breaking the monopoly PokerStars has enjoyed in the market since November 2019.

Partypoker is a player favorite internationally and the second-biggest online poker operator. The partypoker platform, now owned by GVC Holdings, is already in use in New Jersey. For three years running (2017-2019), partypoker has won the title of Poker Operator of the Year at the EGR Operator Awards.

MGM and GVC’s joint online gambling company, ROAR Digital, operates as BetMGM in the US. That company also includes the partypoker site in New Jersey.

Approval could come Aug. 5 for partypoker

ROAR, also the operator of partypoker PA, may have its license approved as soon as Aug. 5, the next meeting of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB).

That’s according to Cyrus Pitre, chief enforcement counsel for the PGCB, during Wednesday’s monthly board meeting.

If it doesn’t come on that date, it shouldn’t be long after.

And WSOP is waiting in the wings

And a third operator, WSOP.com, could follow soon afterward.

Caesars Interactive Entertainment, which owns WSOP.com, has had approval from the PGCB since February 2020, but its online software provider, 888, has yet to get approved in PA. But 888 is already approved by gaming regulators in New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware.

Rebecca McAdam Willetts, PokerStars associate director of public relations, says of the anticipated competition:

“Looking to the future, we welcome the competition. Our goal has always been to promote poker as a safe, social and exciting way to sit down with friends at the table for a bit of competition at any stakes. As the market expands, so too will awareness of regulated online poker. That’s how we sustain the game well into the future.”

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PA poker industry going from strength to strength

The increase to three — and eventually more — online poker rooms in PA will only grow the healthy market even more. Players will have more tournament and game options, plus more sign-up bonuses and promotions. Operators will have to compete for market share, which should benefit the players. Plus, states like neighboring NJ have shown that there’s room in the market for multiple operators.

Furthermore, if PA eventually joins the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement, it would mean a huge boost to player pools and thus tournament prize pools for not only PA players, but those in New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware as well. The latter three already share player pools per the agreement, and there is speculation that PA regulators may follow suit.

But a resolution of the Wire Act case may need to come first. At present, PA gambling law requires separate servers to be located in PA. But it doesn’t rule out the possibility of interstate player pooling.

Even without that shared pool yet in place, PA has jumped to the top of the pile in terms of monthly online poker revenue in the US. Since launching in November, PA has posted the highest revenue each month (through May), except for March. In March, NJ surpassed it by less than $500,000, albeit with three operators to PA’s one.

Partypoker testing underway

The PGCB’s testing of the partypoker platform has already begun. Also under review is the BetMGM app, which will include interactive slots and table games.

ROAR Digital has invested $450 million in the PA rollouts. ROAR’s network hosts its own partypoker-branded online poker room along with poker rooms under the BetMGM and Borgata Poker brands.

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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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