Regulated online poker in Pennsylvania may still be relatively young at this point, but recent events continue to spark an air of optimism for the coming years. Since the market was regulated in 2019, Pennsylvania has only had one active operator, PokerStars.
PokerStars made its way to Pennsylvania’s regulated online poker via a partnership with Mount Airy Casino. With one state casino partner already booked and secured, coupled with PokerStars’ reputation as a top online poker operator, PokerStars has managed to grow its standing in the market and has emerged as a market leader.
However, this is all expected to change soon as the thriving market prepared to welcome PartyPoker to the Pennsylvania online poker market. When regulated online poker was authorized early in November 2019, the state became the 4th in line to offer online poker, joining other states such as New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware.
Owing to its deal with MGM, GVC’s thriving presence in the US online gaming market has made PartyPoker an attractive entrant in the market. As noted, PartyPoker is the oldest operator in New Jersey, which gives it plenty of opportunities to leverage interstate agreements. It also means that it will likely grow to become a formidable online poker operator as the Pennsylvania market continues to mature down the road.
As things are right now, regulated online poker in Pennsylvania is intrastate or ring-fenced. What this means is that punters can only play against other participants within state lines. However, the state gambling law does provide authorization for Pennsylvania to get in line of any of the 3 states that offer online poker to combine player pools.
In the coming year or so, it is expected that the state will do just that, following in Delaware, Nevada, and Jersey’s lead, all of which also have multi-state internet gaming agreements. While online poker options remain limited in Pennsylvania, several casinos are looking to partner up with online poker operators as they look towards launching their own poker rooms.
How will PartyPoker fair against the competition in the regulated online poker market in Pennsylvania
As mentioned earlier, PartyPoker is well-positioned to take over Pennsylvania’s regulated online poker market. Not only does it have the force of its many years of experience in the American gambling market, but it is one of the most well-reviewed operators in the country overall.
The opportunities to grow in the Pennsylvania market abound. Pennsylvania is the 5th most heavily populated state in the country with more than 12 million inhabitants. Compared to New Jersey’s 8 million residents, this means that PartyPoker could grow potentially to outshine and outsize the New Jersey online poker market.
PartyPoker will not have an easy time making its mark in the industry though. Since the website went live, it has continued to exceed expectations by consistently attracting higher traffic. PartyPoker will have to keep the innovations coming if it has any hopes of standing out against its primary competitor.
Another major element that PartyPoker will have to contend with is PokerStars’ PA already popular and well-attended tournament series. PokerStars is associated with great championships and tournaments, the likes of the Pennsylvania Championship of Online Poker, the PokerStars PA Winter Series, and the PokerStars PA Bounty Builder Series.
What does the Regulated online poker market in Pennsylvania need to thrive?
If the Regulated online poker market in Pennsylvania has any hopes of surviving and thriving, it has to seriously make MSIGA work. Currently, MSIGA combines player pools from all three states that enjoy legalized online poker.
Only one operator WSOP.com so far is available in all three states. Despite availability in all three states with legalized online poker, WSOP.com hasn’t managed to attain record-breaking revenue. This is partly because Nevada and Delaware both do not have the strong player base needed to leave a lasting impact.
That’s why the regulated Pennsylvania market is such a big deal. If Pennsylvania pulls off all the stops and managed to join MSIGA, it should thrive, possibly even overtaking some of these states that have enjoyed legalized online poker for longer. But PA joining MSIGA will be anything but effortless as the newest interpretation of the Wire Act is still being debated, therefore causing delays in the process.
If PA fails to join MSIGA, this means that punters from both PA and NJ will be forces to continue its tournament shopping, which will have disastrous consequences for both parties as both states will be severely affected if they ever threw tournaments at the same time. Because both PartyPoker and PokerStars are both readily available in both PA and NJ as we’ve discussed here, both operators are well-positioned to reap the rewards when the state finally joins MSIGA.
As time goes by, other PA casinos, particularly those with a presence in New Jersey are expected to open their poker rooms as soon as PA joins the MSIGA compact. Should this happen before the end of 2021, poker players in PA will be able to easily cross over into NJ and other states to take their shot at world-class tournaments such as the World Series of Poker.
With PartyPoker joining the regulated online poker market in Pennsylvania, the future of online poker in the state is certainly much brighter today than it was a couple of months ago. The success of the poker tournaments that have been held previously suggests an even brighter future than anticipated.
When looking at the regulated poker market in New Jersey, many analysts credit such huge tournament series as the reason online poker in the Garden State has been able to thrive. PartyPoker will look to replicate its success in the New Jersey market and with an even bigger player pool in Pennsylvania, online poker in the state is about to take off in a major way.