Pennsylvania online poker enthusiasts are at the edge of their seats as the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) came out with an official statement announcing a test launch of a poker client. PokerStars had it’s soft launch on November 4, setting the scene for the long-awaited online gambling vertical in the Keystone State.
As it seems, the well-known precautionary approach of Pennsylvania regulators is likely to persist across online poker as well. It may result in a different turn of events than those expected.
- PokerStars online poker client test launched on November 4, announced PGCB.
- Pennsylvania online poker operators have rather rigorous requirements to meet.
- Speculation and uncertainty are still present regarding this gambling vertical.
Terms of the Soft Launch
PlayPennsylvania, the PGCB’s Wednesday meeting last week, resulted in an official announcement regarding online poker. The spokesperson, Douglas Harbach, brought the news forward:
We have staff prepared to initiate and oversee a test launch on Monday of another online casino gaming site, this one licensed under Mount Airy Casino and their suit of casino-type games. At this juncture, it would include the testing of a poker game. The caveat is always that if issues come up, then the beginning of the testing could slide.
Desktop Look and Feel of the Site
According to the screenshots released last month of the Pennsylvania test client, players are probably going to get a desktop client first. As far as a mobile app goes, online poker may follow the footsteps of Pennsylvania online casinos and sportsbooks and launch later on.
The one apparent difference with the PokerStars’ New Jersey site is in the outward brand placement of the brick-and-mortar partner supplying the license, as per regulations imposed by PGCB.
More on PokerStars
With PokerStars’ reputation in existing markets, nothing short of great is expected to ensue for Pennsylvania online poker players.
After all, it is established as the biggest operator in their line of work, offering the best online poker software and rather generous programs for their player pool.
Excitement regarding the long-awaited launch is evident among the company lines as well, as PokerStars spokesperson Rebecca McAdam Willetts claimed:
We are very excited to be bringing our most popular brands to Pennsylvania next week, subject to regulatory approval.
Stay tuned for details.
Rebecca McAdam Willetts
Online Gambling in Pennsylvania So Far
Pennsylvania legalized online gambling had its official start date in July 15 this summer, resulting in the initial launch of Parx and Hollywood casinos’ online clients. SugarHouse followed in a couple of days and is currently the only brand present in two verticals – casino and sports.
Pennsylvania players additionally have access to three sportsbooks so far – BetRivers, FanDuel of Valley Forge, and Mount Airy’s Fox Bet.
The latter launched on September 5 and caused some commotion among the player pool as speculation arose regarding a poker client coming forward at the same time. It seems that the sportsbook was given time to set up shop at ease before such a significant client was added to the mix.
Pennsylvania Future Casinos
Regarding further additions, four Pennsylvania casinos are most likely to come up with their product before the year’s end – Harrah’s Philadelphia, Presque Isle Downs, The Meadows, and Mohegan Sun Pocono.
The executive director of the PGCB Kevin O’Toole expressed expectations of even more launches in the coming weeks. These will most likely include Valley Forge – PartyPoker, as well as Harrah’s – WSOP/888 and a Parx online poker client.
The Future of Pennsylvania Online Poker
The current standing of the industry is still seen as one of the most conservative among regulated online gambling markets in the US. The PGCB has strict and precise demands regarding security, liability in case of issues, as well as game fairness.
For poker, in particular, this is most evident from their decision to keep it in-state, despite other markets such as Nevada and New Jersey enjoying shared player pools.
Still, Pennsylvania’s larger population, as well as the stir regarding the matter, seem rather promising for the online poker segment coming soon.