Pennsylvania online poker market heating up

We knew it was coming, but now we know when. WSOP.com has announced that it will launch in Pennsylvania next Monday, July 12. It will become the third online poker room to go live in the Keystone state, after PokerStars and BetMGM (BetMGM also launched along with sister site Borgata Poker, but we’re considering them one site here).

888 CEO Itai Patzer mentioned WSOP.com’s Pennsylvania launch two months ago in an investor conference call, saying, “We are excited about the US, where we plan to roll out sports into further states in the next few months, and launch our upgraded poker platform into further states in partnership with Caesars and their leading and hugely popular WSOP brand.”

Those states were known to be Michigan and Pennsylvania, though Patzer did not give any specific dates at the time. The “upgraded poker platform” referenced is called Poker8, which so far has only rolled out outside of the United States. Patzer said that there is an “ongoing strong customer reaction to the award-winning Poker8 product,” helping grow poker revenue.

PokerStars was the first online poker room to spread games in Pennsylvania, flipping the switch in November 2019. It had a monopoly through the heart of the COVID-19 pandemic, a time when people stayed home and played online poker, as BetMGM/Borgata didn’t launch until late April 2021.

Interstate outlook hazy

The main question right now is whether or not WSOP.com players in Pennsylvania will be able to participate in any official World Series of Poker online bracelet events. Right now, it looks unlikely unless there is a big surprise coming.

WSOP.com/888 currently have the only interstate online poker network in the U.S., called the All-American Poker Network (AAPN). Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware inked the Multi-State Internet Gambling Agreement (MSIGA) several years ago, allowing poker sites in each state to share player pools. WSOP.com operates in Nevada and New Jersey, while 888, which powers WSOP.com, also powers the three racino sites in Delaware. All five sites share liquidity across state borders and players on WSOP.com in Nevada and New Jersey have competed for WSOP bracelets for a few years now.

But while Pennsylvania can enter into interstate online poker compacts, it has yet to do so. Thus, WSOP.com players there will be cut off from their brethren in the other three states (and presumably Michigan once WSOP.com goes live there) and will not be able to play in WSOP events.

WSOP satellites will likely be available, however, as those would be specific to WSOP PA.

WSOP.com yet to make an announcement about Michigan, though based on what Itai Patzer said in May, one would expect to hear something soon. PokerStars and BetMGM/Borgata both launched in the Wolverine State this year.

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