It’s been a long time in coming, but it’s time for poker enthusiast in Pennsylvania to get their PCs and mobile devices ready to legally play online poker. The launch date has been set, and it looks like the online poker action will be beginning in earnest on July 15, 2019. Pennsylvania will be joining Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey as the first states to allow its residents to play online poker games for real cash.
The announcement was made to the press this past week by Kevin O’Toole, executive director of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. Not only will players be getting access to some excellent poker sites, but they might well also be getting access to the best free bets available to be used in time for opening day.
In the meeting with the press, O’Toole stated that full access to online gambling options was a “key component” of the state’s gaming plan.
He went on to add, “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. Accordingly, I have advised the 10 iGaming certificate holders and three iGaming operators that a coordinated go-live period for interactive gaming will commence on July 15, 2019.”
Since the legislation that legalize online poker was signed into law by Pennsylvania’s Governor back in October of 2017, the state’s top casinos have had ample time to form partnerships with key online poker software developers. Among the seven licenses that have already been issued to poker providers, top dogs like PokerStars and partypoker are already confirmed to be on the list.
With a population of more than 13 million people, the prospects for a successful start for online poker in Pennsylvania seems almost assured. If everything falls into place, there’s an excellent chance Pennsylvania will get the opportunity to join the other aforementioned states as part of the Multi-State Internet Gaming Association, which allows states to combine its players into one player pool.
Wire Act Considerations
Earlier this year, the Department of Justice (DOJ), under the direction of Attorney General William Barr, decided to reverse its 2011 opinion related to the Wire Act of 1961. While the Wire Act was initiated to ban the use of wire systems to fund gambling accounts, the DOJ’s position in 2011 was the Wire Act only pertained to sports betting. They reached that decision by trying to decipher Congress’ intent in 1961 when the Internet didn’t exist. By reversing its prior opinion, the DOJ has stated that no forms of gambling would be exempt from the Wire Act, though online lotteries were not specifically mentioned in the DOJ’s opinion.
If the courts decide to uphold the DOJ’s position (pending litigation), gamblers will have to personally make deposits into their online gambling accounts at designated locations, most likely the host casinos themselves. Players will not be permitted to fund any type of gambling accounts via bank wire, third-party wires like Western Union, credit cards or debit cards.