PokerStars Online Gambling License Approved for Pennsylvania

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In 2016, PokerStars legally started offering online gambling games in New Jersey. Now the online poker giant has made further inroads into the U.S. online gambling market after being cleared for an official license in neighboring Pennsylvania by the state’s Gaming Control Board. As a tweet from PennBets, which provides news about legal, licensed online gambling in Pennsylvania, subsequently pointed out:

“Mt. Airy is a minor player among Pennsylvania casinos, but thanks to a partnership with PokerStars they will be very relevant in online poker.”

The news follows a recent exciting announcement by The Stars Group that they have also teamed-up with casino entertainment company Eldorado Resorts. Sports betting is high on TSG’s list of priorities, with that deal granting it access to the US company’s portfolio of 28 casinos based in 12 states across the nation.

PokerStars and Mount Airy Casino

In August, PokerStars announced a strategic relationship with Mount Airy Casino Resort, one of the first operators to obtain a license for all three online gambling options in the Keystone State (poker, slots and table games). As part of their arrangement, PokerStars, which is owned by The Stars Group (TSG), will be responsible for providing all the software needed to power their entirety of gaming options.

On November 28, 2018, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) subsequently cleared PokerStars for a license, in the process securing the operator access to a second US state. In the meantime, PokerStars is still currently shut out of Nevada’s online poker market due to it having  flaunted the UIGEA of 2006. Some other states have also expressed similar views on the brand in the event of legislation, including California.

Luckily for PokerStars, Pennsylvania has taken a widely different approach to the issue. As a result, the operator can now look forward to extending its reach to the country’s second biggest gambling market sometime in early to mid 2019.

Pennsylvania’s Online Poker Market

At the same meeting last week, the Mohegan Sun Pocono also received an official online gambling license from the PGCB. In the case of the Mohegan Sun, however, the casino decided to leave online poker out of its application and only seek licenses for online casinos and table games.

Its not the only venue to do so, either. Pennsylvania has 13 land-based casinos, and thus far 11 of them have received online gambling licenses, with only seven requesting online poker as part of their applications. On the one hand, this may seem surprising considering the taxation rate levied on online poker is the lowest of the all offerings available in Pennsylvania. Nevertheless, the shared poker network between New Jersey, Delaware, and Nevada has continued to produce woeful results, making online poker less of a priority for gaming companies than online casinos or sports betting.

Impact of PokerStars on Local Poker Market?

PokerStars joining New Jersey’s online poker market a couple years back has failed to improve the segment’s traffic or overall profitability. Counter to initial predictions, PokerStars hasn’t even been able to dominate the Garden State’s poker market, making it difficult to predict just what level of impact the operator’s addition will have on neighboring Pennsylvania’s poker industry.

As mentioned, however, PokerStars is currently excluded from Nevada’s online poker market, despite agreeing to a multi-state poker compact with Nevada and Delaware. This has handed 888 and a massive advantage over all their competitors. They will be on equal footing in Pennsylvania, though. Moreover, the much larger market should lead to an all together better situation for both operators and players alike, with PokerStars then able to bring to bear greater economies of scale for a much more viable operation.