Pennsylvania gamblers received some good news on Nov. 4 when the state became the fourth to offer online poker with PokerStars going live.
The company also launched the PokerStars Casino, with both now available in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The launch also comes in conjunction with the FOX Bet sports betting app, which is also available in both states. Stars has a partnership with FOX Sports for a national sports betting app when more states legalize sports betting.
It’s a major effort for the company in moving into the Keystone State.
“We’re excited to launch PokerStars as the first and currently the only online poker option available to players in Pennsylvania,” FOX Bet President Matt Primeaux said. “Including today’s launch of our highly-rated casino product, which is now available in the FOX Bet and PokerStars apps, we’re proud to say we’re currently the only online provider offering all three forms of regulated gaming in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.”
As part of the launch, PokerStars promised thousands of dollars in freeroll tournaments and promotions. The site was pleased with the first day of action, and at one point the number of players even topped those on the site in New Jersey.
The company was also pleased with its first day of Sunday major tournaments. More than $140,000 was awarded across the Sunday schedule with many players enjoyed their first Sunday of online poker since Black Friday. PokerStars ambassador Jennifer Shahade is pleased to see online poker live in her home state.
“Finally, PokerStars is available in my hometown and I couldn’t be more thrilled,” she said. “Players in Pennsylvania have been looking forward to this day, and I can’t wait to be a part of all the action.”
PokerStars’ launch in Pennsylvania offers some momentum for online poker. After being stalled with only Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware, there is now another player in the mix. Pennsylvania is the fifth most populous state with almost 13 million people. It borders New Jersey and Delaware, becoming a three-state block of legalized jurisdictions.
Some obstacles remain, including the Department of Justice’s opinion reversing an Obama opinion that the Wire Act of 1961 applies only to sports wagering. The issue is now tied up in court, but one federal court has already ruled the act doesn’t apply to other forms of online gambling.
The DOJ efforts put shared liquidity between New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware in jeopardy, and Pennsylvania will remain a closed market until the issue is clear. On the plus side, West Virginia has also legalized online poker and Michigan is attempting to pass online gaming legislation including poker.
WSOP.com and partypoker have also applied for licenses in Pennsylvania and could be coming online soon. The addition of another populous state like New York could grow the market even more. A path toward coast-to-coast online poker isn’t yet a reality, but additional states coming on board now offer players some hope.