More than two years after Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf signed legislation that allowed online poker in the Keystone State, PokerStars became the first legal and regulated online poker site in its jurisdiction with a soft launch in November 2019.
For the 18 months since, PokerStars was the only provider in the state. But it is finally getting some competition as more operators prepare to enter the market.
Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board Director of Communications Doug Harbach told Play Pennsylvania that BetMGM Poker and Borgata Poker were scheduled to begin a two-day testing phase, similar to Stars’ soft launch, on Tuesday.
The sites will operate completely separately from one another, and under different casino licenses, but will have nearly identical skins since both use Entain’s software to run their virtual poker rooms. In the New Jersey market, BetMGM and Borgata operate under the partypoker network, which will also be the case in Pennsylvania.
Since both sites are operating under the partypoker brand, the two sites will share player pools. Anyone playing on BetMGM will also be playing against those playing on Borgata Poker.
“Players can enter via either provider and be combined into one when it comes to playing cash or tournament games,” Harbach told Play Pennsylvania.
Aside from the two partypoker-based sites, it appears that WSOP.com will enter the market as well. Although there have been no official announcements, the Caesars-owned online poker site has updated its website to reflect a possible launch.
PokerAtlas’ Information Coordinator Kevin Mathers tweeted screenshots of the changes last week.
Looks like WSOPcom will be available in Pennsylvania in the near future after visiting these pages? pic.twitter.com/eJ35SQpTiy
— Kevin Mathers (@Kevmath) April 23, 2021
Based on how the website is laid out, it doesn’t appear that Pennsylvania is ready to share its player pool with other states. That could change after regulators from different states are able to work out the details of an agreement.
The only interstate online poker compact is currently between Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware. The only operator in all three of those states is WSOP.com, but its website has separate tabs for its interstate player pool and Pennsylvania in its “Get Started” tab.
A January ruling by the First Circuit Court of Appeals regarding the Trump administration’s interpretation of the Wire Act allows cemented the legality of interstate online poker and will allow for continued consolidation of player pool between states with legal and regulated markets.