Pennsylvania Online Poker Going Intrastate?January 22, 2019 8:21 pm
The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) has responded to the recent Department of Justice (DOJ) reversal of the interpretation of the Wire Act by issuing a letter to their casino licensees.
And the directive is not good news for online poker players and online gamblers in general in that state.
The letter sent from PGCB Executive Director Kevin O’Toole late last week says that casino operators venturing into the online poker and casino industry in the state must abide by the DOJ’s new decision.
The DOJ’s reversal of opinion on the Wire Act means that interstate gambling whether it be online casino games or poker is no longer legal. To abide by the new decision anyone running online casino or poker sites in Pennsylvania will need to remain solely in the state when doing business. This has wide repercussions for online poker.
What does it mean for Pennsylvania online poker and beyond?
O’Toole stated in the letter from the PGCB “Undoubtedly, the Wire Act applies to the ‘interstate’ transmission of (1) bets or wagers on sporting event and, as per the new Opinion, also to the interstate transmission of (2) wire communications with entitle the recipient to receive money or credit as a result of a bet or wager, or (3) for information assisting in the placing of bets or wager.”
Further, it was stated: “It is your obligation to comply with the federal law in all respects in establishing your gaming operations which must now be entirely intrastate.”
Under the new Wire Act opinion the potential for Pennsylvania online poker rooms to share player liquidity with other state such as New Jersey and Nevada appears to be dead for now. The eight casinos that previously submitted applications to run online poker rooms in Pennsylvania did so before shared player liquidity was taken off the table.
Is there enough poker liquidity to operate online games?
This has led some experts to wonder if any of these eight casinos would reconsider and cancel their online poker plans.
Shared player liquidity is not the only thing that could be hampered by the new DOJ opinion. Under the new opinion “all interactive gaming devices and associated equipment” must be located within state borders. This means all servers and all payment processing must be housed in Pennsylvania, rules that operators may not have planned for when setting up their operations.
In the letter the PCGB has given applicants 30 days to provide them with their plans to ensure they are complying with the new interpretation of the wire act. The next PCGB hearing is scheduled for February 6 and no updates on the online poker situation are expected before this.