Pennsylvania online poker players waited a long 17-plus months for a second and third operator. Now it looks as if they’ll get a fourth.
Borgata and BetMGM Poker sites launched in PA on April. 29, finally ending the PokerStars PA monopoly. And looks as though a WSOP.com PA launch is imminent.
In a Q1 trading update on April 28, 888 Holdings CEO Itai Pazner said:
“We are excited about the US, where we plan to roll out sports into further states in the next few months, and launch our upgraded poker platform into further states in partnership with Caesars and their leading and hugely popular WSOP brand.”
During their Q1 investor call, Pazner confirmed plans to launch poker in two additional states very soon.
“We’re planning to launch in the first half of this year, which basically means in the next couple of months.”
That timeline would mean players in PA, as well as Michigan, could have a WSOP.com site live by the end of June. As for these states sharing player pools with WSOP sites in other jurisdictions, don’t expect any swift movement.
Disclaimer: While a May or June launch is possible, delays on this particular site launching are not unusual, so don’t plan your summer around it just yet. We will continue to update as more information is available.
PA ready to join the ring race at WSOP.com
A WSOP.com launch will be welcome news for PA poker players, who have sat on the sidelines for months as their neighbors in New Jersey enjoyed exciting WSOP Online Circuit events.
In 2015, WSOP added online bracelet events to the live WSOP schedule, which takes place every summer in Las Vegas. When COVID-19 led to the summer festival’s cancelation, Caesars decided to host a full online bracelet series, and another this summer before the live WSOP series in the fall.
Also in response to virus concerns and live poker challenges, Caesars took its popular WSOP Circuit events fully online. The first WSOP Online Circuit event took place in Sept. 2018. But starting in 2020, monthly online festivals for players in the Nevada and NJ markets replaced live regional series.
The 2021 WSOP Online Circuit includes 12 series, one each month. Eight of the festivals would offer 12 ring events while four “Super Circuit” feature an expanded 18 ring events.
The Jan. 6 presser also mentioned, “An additional 13th online circuit event is earmarked pending launch of the WSOP.COM service in a newly regulated market.” Which many took to believe a PA launch was impending.
This month is the Caesars Atlantic City Super Circuit, running May 8-25.
Shared liquidity coming for PA and MI, but when?
While PA and MI players could very well be competing for Circuit rings soon, they’ll be doing so within their ring-fenced states. Neither state has joined any interstate poker compact, like the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement (MSIGA) that exists between NV, NJ, and Delaware.
This could change in the near future, with Michigan most likely to join ahead of PA.
Pennsylvania regulators have been cautious when it comes to uncertainty around Wire Act legislation and litigation. But recent developments including a Jan. 2021 decision in favor of the New Hampshire Lottery provide signs of resolution, which is what it will take for PA to move toward compacting.
A PGCB spokesperson told PlayPennsylvania this week:
“It is still not clear whether the DOJ will pursue an appeal to the Supreme Court of the First Circuit decision regarding interstate gambling. Until there is some finality of the federal decision and whether there will be an appeal of that ruling, that stymies moving forward since a compact would involve a contract with other states and must adhere to federal law, and any agreement like this must be reviewed by other entities in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. So, it is not just a PGCB decision. Also, the poker operators need to agree to the provisions of any agreement.”
The window for such an appeal by the DOJ is closing. But don’t expect PA to pool players with other states ahead of this summer’s 2021 WSOP Online bracelet series.
WSOP PA next up in expanding Pennsylvania poker market
The addition of WSOP.com to a growing Pennsylvania online poker market is an exciting prospect. Players will have more options for games and tournaments, solid welcome bonuses and promotions, and soon, bigger player pools and prize pools.
Plus, the PA WSOP site will roll out on 888’s fresh, upgraded Poker 8 client. Either the PA or MI market will be the first stateside to launch the newly designed platform. Other US markets will eventually transition to it as well. An 888 Poker Pennsylvania site could also follow WSOP to the Keystone State.
But perhaps what PA players are most excited for is being able to compete for coveted WSOP Circuit rings, and eventually WSOP bracelets, without trekking to NJ and crashing on a friend’s couch.
Lead image credit: AP Photo/John Locher