Online Poker Coming to Pennsylvania Courtesy of PokerStars

Online casino gaming has been in the works in the state of Pennsylvania since late 2017 when legislation was approved legalizing the option. However, it would not be until just a few months ago that online casino gaming would officially launch in the state. When casinos moved online, there was no sign of poker and many wondered when the poker element would be live. Well, it seems November will be the start of online poker in the state, with PokerStars just recently approved to begin the testing phase of their poker site.

PokerStars Approved

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board approved PokerStars for operations in the state, with the site set to start testing on November 4th. The news broke via PlayPennsylvania after a meeting of the Board, with spokesperson Douglas Harbach stating that staff is prepared to initiate and oversee testing of the poker site launch, once licensed under Mount Airy Casino. The testing will include a poker game.

A short testing period is required before a brand can officially go live in Pennsylvania as well as other states that have legalized online gaming in the US. According to Harbach, the testing phase should take place on Monday. However, any unforeseen issues could move that date to further back.

It is not clear as to if PokerStars will be testing a mobile app during the soft launch. It seems that the option will be desktop based and possibly a mobile variant offered later on. The platform should be similar to the offering in New Jersey, but the option will have Mount Airy branding as per the requirement of state regulations.

Long-Awaited Gaming

Poker fans have waited what seems like forever to have the option for gaming in Pennsylvania. New Jersey, Delaware and Nevada have been the only iPoker states for years and once the option was approved in Pennsylvania, players anxiously awaited the launch.

It was anticipated that online poker would be live back in July when a date was set for gaming to launch. However, the rollout only included online casino sites. The Parx Casino and Hollywood Casino were the first to launch iGaming services and they have a limited selection of content, with no poker gaming in site. SugarHouse soon followed, also lacking a poker variant.

Then, last month, the rumor mill began to circulate that the launch would take place within the month. once Fox Bet PA launched in early September, speculation began that poker would not be far behind, that sports betting was just launched first.

Thankfully, this time around, the launch of online poker is real and will happen very soon. With the Gaming Board specifically announcing the launch, we know it is happening and it won’t be long until we see what the offering will look like and how players are receptive to it.

In the three other states that offer online poker gaming, the industry has failed to gain any solid footing when it comes to generating revenues. New Jersey has drastically different revenue totals when comparing their online poker industry to online casino gaming. In general, the online poker monthly totals come in at around $1 million while online casino games are pushing the $35 million to $40 million mark.

It will be interesting to see how well online poker is received in Pennsylvania and if the state is able to fare differently than their competitors and bring in strong revenues from the new industry.


Logan is based in Los Angeles and is an avid poker player having played in tournaments across the globe. He covers both poker & regulatory affairs.