It took more than two years after signing the bill into law, but Pennsylvania poker players can finally play online poker.
Late last week, rumors were circulating about PokerStars running a soft launch of their Pennsylvania-only software this week. Today, Card Player confirmed with a source in Pennsylvania that the soft launch is indeed taking place within the Keystone State’s borders.
Players are able to download the software and play online during the hours of 2 p.m. and 10 p.m. ET on Monday and 2 p.m. and 12 a.m. ET on Tuesday. Multiple outlets are reporting that if the soft launch goes smoothly, PokerStars will be fully live in Pennsylvania on Nov. 6.
Players participating in the soft launch will be able to try out a full array of cash games and a select number of tournaments. The source that Card Player spoke with said that he already had a FOX Bet account, PokerStars’ sports betting software that is already operational in the state, and that there was no need to make an additional deposit.
With the launch, PokerStars became the first of what will be several online poker sites in the state. Despite the milestone for online poker, the site remained quiet about the launch.
The road from legalization to launch was a painstakingly long one in the Keystone State.
Governor Tom Wolf signed HB271 into law at the end of October 2017. The bill legalized online casino games, including online poker. The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board didn’t start accepting applications for online gaming licenses until the following year. It awarded the first three licenses to Harrah’s Philadelphia, Parx Casino, and Mount Airy Casino.
Mount Airy is the property that partnered with PokerStars, allowing them to obtain a license in the state.
Last April, the PGCB announced that online poker would be available July 15. The date came and went and there was still no online poker in the state, but online sports betting did launch in the meantime.
Pennsylvania will be a key state in the overall health of U.S. online poker. In 2018, Pennsylvania was the second-largest gaming market in the country, behind only Nevada. According to the American Gaming Association, Pennsylvania casinos generated $3.25 billion in revenue. The state government snatched $1.4 billion of that money in taxes.
Lawmakers estimate that online gaming will generate another $300 million in revenue for operators and another $260 million in tax revenue.
With its rollout, Pennsylvania will be the fourth state with legal online poker and the third with online casinos. Nevada only offers online poker. West Virginia legalized online casinos, including poker, in March, but has yet to announce a launch date.
UPDATE: PokerStars has now confirmed that the launch is underway.
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