PokerStars says it will have a seat at the table when legal online poker sites begin operating in Pennsylvania, less than a month after the Keystone State legalized internet gambling.
But the world’s largest poker site may need to find a partner to make this dream become a reality.
There’s a bit of a problem with PokerStars entering the Pennsylvania gambling market, however. Stars Group, the poker site’s parent company, doesn’t operate a land-based casino in the state.
Why does that matter? The recently passed House Bill 2150 only allows for the state’s 12 brick-and-mortars the legal right to obtain an online gambling license, and a 13th for the soon-to-open Live! Hotel & Casino in Philadelphia.
Unless PokerStars breaks ground on a land-based gambling facility, the only alternative appears to be a partnership deal with one of the state’s current casinos.
Still, Stars Group executives are planning on being “one of the first” poker sites in the Keystone State. The company’s Chief Legal Officer, Marlon Goldstein, agrees PokerStars’ ticket into Pennsylvania is through a partnership deal, but didn’t specify which casino(s) may be in play.
Positive Step Forward
The recently passed legislation makes Pennsylvania the fourth state to legalize online poker. New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware already have legal poker sites in operation.
It’s been a long road to legalization for Keystone State residents, many of whom have traveled across state borders to New Jersey the past few years to play online. Heading into 2016, many experts anticipated Pennsylvania would pass legislation but, due to the usual political disputes, poker players in the state were forced to wait another year.
Many in the poker community are hopeful Pennsylvania’s decision to legalize internet gambling will cause additional states to follow suit. But there’s no way to put a timetable or make a prediction on the future of online poker in other states.
But this is a positive step forward for the online poker industry in America after six years of frustration since the DOJ’s Black Friday shutdown of PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, Absolute Poker, and Ultimate Bet, all of the leading poker sites.
Internet Poker Giant Confident
PokerStars is currently only available to American players in New Jersey, but the Stars Group continues its fight to operate in more states for the first time since April 2011, starting with Pennsylvania.
“We are optimistic that Pennsylvania will be a catalyst for other US states to continue the momentum of iGaming regulation in the US,” CFO Brian Kyle stated during a recent public conference call.
Stars Group CEO Rafi Ashkenazi said his company is “poised to take advantage of the positive momentum in the growth of online gaming globally,” and that PokerStars aims to be “among the first operators to launch in Pennsylvania when the state opens its doors to online poker.”
But his company will have to find a partner or that goal won’t come to fruition.