What Established Online Poker Rooms Will Launch in PA?

What Established Online Poker Rooms Will Launch in PA?

Online Poker Rooms in PAWith the first Pennsylvania online poker rooms expected to go live sometime in 2018, it’s time to take a look ahead at what poker rooms Pennsylvania players are likely to see when poker rooms start dealing cards.

Even though existing PA casinos will file for licenses over the next few months and games probably wont go live until at least the middle of 2018, you can be sure that prospective poker rooms are working hard right now jockeying for place in the market.

Who is eligible to get a license?

Before getting into specifics, it’s important to look at what companies are qualified to offer online poker in Pennsylvania now that online gambling has been given the go-ahead.

The legislation that passed in late October currently allows for 12 licenses (soon to be 13), which is equal to the number of physical casinos that exist in the state.

Existing Pennsylvania casinos are given the first opportunity to apply for licenses – and most are expected to do just that. For traditional online poker rooms, they will either need to wait in line and/or partner with existing casinos in Pennsylvania.

Existing Brick and mortar casinos partnering with online poker rooms is essentially the arrangement we have seen extensively in New Jersey. In some cases, the poker rooms are branded as the state-based casino (such as Borgata Poker in New Jersey), and sometimes the poker room are branded as the established online poker room (partypoker, PokerStars). Sometimes, both.

For example, in New Jersey, the three main online poker networks — sharing the same player pool — in the state are:

Pokerstars — partnered with Resorts Casino
WSOP and 888poker — partnered with Caesars Entertainment
partypoker and Borgata Poker — partnered with Borgata Casino.

But what about Pennsylvania?

In looking at the Pennsylvania market, we are likely to see similar arrangements to New Jersey. Here are some of the best bets to be involved in the United State’s newest online market.

1) PokerStars – The number one poker room in the world in 2011 — the last time Pennsylvania players could play — is still the number one poker room. PokerStars continues to have a strong hold on the worldwide market, with around 50% of all cash game poker traffic.

PokerStars overcame a huge obstacle when they went live in New Jersey last year. They currently sit at the top of the pack in the state and appear eager to make a splash in Pennsylvania.

2) 888poker – Leaving the United States in 2006, 888poker has been the most prolific “old school” poker room in the newly regulated states. Not only is 888poker doing well in New Jersey, but they also power the software for WSOP in Nevada and Delaware.

3) partypoker – partypoker also left the United States market in late 2006, waiting for the day they could participate in regulated poker in the US. partypoker is currently one of the “Big 3” in New Jersey, but has not yet applied for a license in Nevada. It’s a pretty good bet that we see partypoker in Pennsylvania.

4) Everyone else – After the big three, we start to speculate a bit more. Brands such as Betfair, William Hill and other iPoker network sites have dipped their toes into regulated online gambling in the U.S., but have yet to make much of a splash for poker yet.

With the prospects of a 4-state playing pool — and 25 million potential customers — maybe we could see some other global operators become interested such as Winamax, Unibet and Ladbrokes. Unlike PokerStars, partypoker or 888 though, there may be few players that would be interested by brand alone.

Online poker rooms you won’t see in Pennsylvania

If you are an old school poker player or even one who continues to play unregulated online poker today, chances are you won’t see contemporary poker rooms you may be familiar with.

Most poker rooms that accepted United States players after 2006 will not have a chance to enter the U.S. market. PokerStars seems to be the exception because of their unique reputation that they developed (not to mention that all assets were sold to Amaya Gaming). They have traditionally been a positive example in the poker world and even paid back all players after the event of 2011 shut out the top four online poker rooms in the U.S.

PokerStars also bailed out Full Tilt players and unclaimed balances were used to pay Absolute Poker and Ultimate Bet players, which folded in 2011. You wont see any of these brands when PA online poker goes live, although Full Tilt could be an outside possibility, but the brand is being phased out by PokerStars.

Another group of online poker rooms you won’t see in Pennsylvania are online poker rooms that are currently accepting United States players outside of the state regulatory framework (i.e. “offshore” poker rooms).

This means no Bodog/Bovada/Ignition, no BetOnline, no Americas Cardroom/True Poker and no smaller poker rooms such as Carbon Poker. It’s possible some of these poker rooms may continue to offer games to PA residents, but they will not be authorized to do so. Some Pennsylvania poker rooms are likely to halt Pennsylvania signups (like we have seen in New Jersey and Nevada) in the face of safer and more secure competitors — and additional scrutiny.