Pennsylvania Online Poker To Begin On July 15

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board announced Wednesday that poker players in the Keystone State will be able to play online this summer.

In a scheduled meeting of the PGCB, Executive Director Kevin O’Toole announced that the infrastructure for online gaming will officially go live on July 15.

“Staff has reviewed the estimated time that it would take for us and the industry to complete all necessary steps, and it is our view that 90 days would be adequate,” said O’Toole. “Accordingly, I have advised the 10 iGaming certificate holders and three iGaming operators that that a coordinated go-live period for interactive gaming will commence on July 15, 2019.”

Pennsylvania online sports betting, however, will likely begin before the rest of the state’s online gambling.

PGCB spokesman Doug Harbach said that operators could begin taking bets online later this spring and as early as within the next three weeks. This stems from the fact that online sports betting operators are limited to one license per brand. As opposed to the online casino licenses, which has multiple licenses per brand for different partnerships.

For example, the Harrah’s Philadelphia brand is likely to roll out two online poker sites, one for WSOP.com and another for 888 Poker. Other notable partnerships include a PokerStars deal with Mount Airy Casino, and partypoker’s arrangement with Valley Forge Casino.

There are currently eight operators seeking to launch an online poker platform in the state. If all eight are successful, Pennsylvania would become the biggest online poker market in the country.

When online casinos go live this summer, Pennsylvania will become the fourth state with online poker, joining New Jersey, Delaware, and Nevada as the only states in the country legal online poker. Since Nevada doesn’t have online gambling outside of poker, Pennsylvania would become the third state with online casinos.

West Virginia recently passed legislation allowing online gaming but has yet to implement it.

Pennsylvania first passed online gambling legislation in October 2017. The rollout has been painstakingly slow, in part because of the new Wire Act opinion that was released by the Department of Justice earlier this year.

O’Toole instructed operators to comply with the new opinion of the Wire Act, which made all online gambling that crossed state lines illegal. The opinion is currently in a legal battle with the New Hampshire Lottery Commission.

If overturned, it would open the possibility for Pennsylvania to enter a compact with New Jersey, Delaware, and Nevada to share online poker player pools.

Earlier this year, Josh Shapiro, Pennsylvania’s Attorney General, helped pen a letter to the DOJ objecting to the reversal.

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