Pennsylvania Launch Delayed Until 2021

Written By Martin Harris on October 22, 2020 - Last Updated on December 21, 2020
WSOP not heading to PA online poker players until 2021

Pennsylvania online poker players will have to wait a little longer before they can play on According to a Caesars representative, it will now be at least 2021 before PA will launch.

No timeline for PA launch until early next year

As of now, there remains no specific launch date for PA. A timeline may become available at the start of next year.

After months of anticipation, had moved one step closer to opening in PA following a Sept. 30 meeting of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB). At that meeting, the PGCB approved an interactive gaming manufacturer license for Caesars’ online poker partner 888 Holdings.

That news appeared to indicate that a PA launch could be fast approaching. However, there are a couple of PA-specific issues that could be causing a delay.

One concerns the need for WSOP to establish a separate server for the PA site per regulatory requirements. The other may involve the question of whether or not will be able to share player liquidity with its sites in other states.

It is not clear whether will necessarily want or need to have such an interstate compact already in place before launching in Pennsylvania. Having one would be favorable, of course, in that it would allow Pennsylvania players to compete against larger fields, including players from other states.

Such a compact allowed players on sites in Nevada and New Jersey to compete against one another for WSOP online bracelets over the summer.

PA players’ hopes raised by promotions, other indicators

News of the delay comes just as some Pennsylvania online poker players were starting to think PA was about deal its first virtual hands.

Over the past week, some Pennsylvanians with Caesars accounts received promotional messages regarding the imminent launch of PA.

The promotions also appeared on the website for a time, though they are not presently posted. Promotions included a 100% deposit match bonus up to $1,000 and entries to Welcome Week Freerolls for new sign-ups.

Meanwhile, the banner does now include a Harrah’s Philadelphia logo. There is also a PA-specific “House Rules” page on the site, presumably in anticipation of the room’s launch.

The rules mostly concern gameplay, although they do include that “players must be at least 21 years of age, and physically located in the State of Pennsylvania” to play on

Meanwhile, the WSOP-branded live poker room at Harrah’s Philadelphia now appears to be permanently closed. While other PA live rooms are just starting to reopen following COVID-19-related closures, in August, employees of the Harrah’s Philadelphia poker room reported it had closed with no plans to reopen.

PokerStars PA online poker monopoly will extend into second year

Pennsylvania is now approaching the one-year anniversary of the launch of the state’s first legal online room, PokerStars PA. PokerStars launched its Pennsylvania site during the first week of November 2019.

Many have speculated that partypoker could also soon challenge PokerStars’ online poker monopoly in the Keystone State. While a summer or fall launch of partypoker once seemed possible, that, too, currently appears in limbo.

GVC Holdings owns the partypoker platform. Along with MGM, GVC also jointly owns ROAR Digital. For the last few months, ROAR has been awaiting approval from the PGCB for its license to operate in Pennsylvania. However, the regulators’ iGaming Operators Eligibility List still lists its application status as pending.

Lead image credit: AP Photo/John Locher

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Martin Harris

Martin Harris is a writer and teacher who has reported on poker, online gambling, and sports betting since the mid-2000s. Once a full-time academic (Ph.D., English), he currently teaches part-time in the American Studies program at UNC Charlotte. In 2019, his book Poker & Pop Culture was published by D&B Books.

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