Pennsylvania online poker is legal for players who are 21 or older and physically located within state lines. State lawmakers legalized online poker in 2017 as a part of a large gaming expansion package, and the first PA poker sites launched two years later.
The legislation that legalized online poker also included provisions for online sportsbooks and casinos. Sports betting and online gambling got off to quick starts with multiple operators getting up and running to establish a competitive industry in short order.
Online poker has developed a little more slowly by comparison. PokerStars PA launched in November 2019 in partnership with Mount Airy Casino and remains the only game in town for now.
Other poker sites will join the party in the future, with WSOP.com, 888 Poker, Partypoker, and BetMGM Poker having the requisite partnerships in place with local casinos for market access. Look for more PA poker sites to come online soon.
Pennsylvania Poker Sites
Poker is ubiquitous in the Keystone State, with more than a dozen casinos and ten in-person poker rooms open for business. Furthermore, southeastern Pennsylvania is not far from Atlantic City in New Jersey, where there are even more in-person and online poker rooms.
With the launch of online poker in Pennsylvania, players can participate in real money cash games and tournaments from any desktop computer or mobile device. PokerStars PA holds a monopoly over online poker for now, but state law is conducive to additional operators making an entrance.
Below are overviews of poker sites that are either active in Pennsylvania or likely to debut in the future.
PokerStars PA got off to a quick start immediately after launch. With some 12.8 million people, Pennsylvania is the fifth-largest state in the nation and therefore an excellent online poker market.
PokerStars took advantage of its status as an early mover in a big state. Stars took little time to launch large guaranteed tournaments surpassing those of its sister site, PokerStars NJ, which has been operational since March 2016.
The PokerStars mobile app and desktop client spread a wide range of cash games and tournaments. Cash games run at all levels, starting with micro stakes games featuring $0.01/$0.02 blinds and going up from there.
Players will find ring games 24/7 for no-limit Hold’em, pot-limit Omaha, and pot-limit Omaha Hi/Lo. Fixed limit cash games, mixed games, and stud/draw variations are also available, though games do not run as often for those due to a lack of demand.
As for tournaments, PokerStars PA runs traditional multi-table tournaments, sit & go tourneys, and more. PokerStars also runs three-handed Spin & Go games in which the winner-take-all prize is determined at random at the start of the event (with 10,000x buyin prizes among the possibilities).
PokerStars PA also runs a handful of tournament series each year. Their annual Pennsylvania Championship of Online Poker (PACOOP) each fall and PASCOOP each spring have run since PokerStars opened in 2019, paying more than $2 million in prizes each time.
Other major PokerStars PA tournaments include the Bounty Builder Series, Winter Series, and the one-off PennsylMania event that ran with great success not long ago. As the US poker market continues to mature, look for more of these.
888 Poker and WSOP.com
888 Holdings, which runs 888 Poker and powers WSOP.com, received a PA online poker license in September 2020 but has not yet launched. Coronavirus-related disruptions in 2020 pushed its anticipated launch further into 2021.
888 is live in New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware, which bodes well for its pending launch in Pennsylvania. The company has launch experience, it is proven, and it can get up and running relatively quickly when it goes live.
BetMGM Poker (Partypoker US Network)
The Partypoker US network is operational in New Jersey and runs several brands for players in the Garden State, including Partypoker, Borgata Poker, and BetMGM Poker. The Partypoker Network is operated by Roar Digital, which is the product of a joint venture between MGM Resorts and Entain.
MGM Resorts and Entain established Roar Digital specifically to expand their online gaming offerings in the US. With several established and successful poker brands in its portfolio, Roar Digital will likely enter the Pennsylvania poker market sooner or later.
Of the brands in Roar Digital’s portfolio, BetMGM Poker would make the most sense to launch next in Pennsylvania. Roar Digital already has a presence in Pennsylvania through BetMGM Sportsbook and Casino, making the addition of poker under the same name a logical next step.
GGPoker is massive on the global stage but relatively unknown in the US, at least to the general public. The company has alluded to an international, Westward expansion and may eventually seek to enter Pennsylvania – but that’s a lot of ifs. The company has not announced a partnership with any of Pennsylvania’s local casinos, which is necessary to qualify for an online poker license.
Interstate Poker Prospects for Pennsylvania
Currently, Pennsylvania online poker is ring-fenced to players within state lines. That means all PokerStars PA players are seated with other Pennsylvanians exclusively even though Stars is active in multiple states.
The prospects of Pennsylvania joining interstate poker agreements with other states grew higher in early 2021. In January 2021, a First Circuit Court of Appeals decision helped assuage concerns that interstate poker agreements may violate the federal Wire Act.
The decision should give Pennsylvania lawmakers more confidence to approve interstate player sharing agreements, which would permit local poker sites to seat players from multiple states at the same tables. The resulting impacts would include more active cash games, bigger tournaments, and a better poker economy all-around in Pennsylvania and beyond.
The national poker economy as a whole stands to benefit if Pennsylvania opens its industry to cross-state traffic. With nearly 13 million people, Pennsylvania was the largest state to legalize online to date when it launched in 2019.
One potential path to interstate poker in Pennsylvania lies with joining New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware in the Multi-State Internet Gaming Association (MISGA). If Pennsylvania goes in that direction, players in every MISGA member state would see an instant and significant increase in traffic.
Is Online Poker Safe in Pennsylvania?
Yes. Legal online poker in Pennsylvania is safe, fair, and well-regulated.
The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) regulates online poker in Pennsylvania. Some of the PGCB’s most important duties include ensuring games are run fairly, investigating applicants who would like to offer online poker in PA, and verifying ongoing compliance with all safety and integrity regulations.
State law requires all Pennsylvania poker sites to partner with local operators, partially as a favor to the state’s land-based industry, but also to encourage accountability and ensure financial stability.
Age and Identity Verification
Integrity and player protection regulations extend to the individual player as well. All poker sites must verify the age, identity, and location of every new customer. As a result, poker sites must ask players to provide certain personal information:
- Legal name
- Address and phone number
- E-mail address
- Last four digits of your SSN
Additionally, PA poker operators must verify the physical location of every customer. Some players may be asked to install location verification software when downloading a mobile poker app or playing online. If you’re asked to install a geolocation utility, just follow the instructions on the screen, and you’ll be at the tables in no time.
Deposits and Withdrawals
Legal PA poker sites offer fast and straightforward deposit methods such as:
- Credit card
- Debit card
- Electronic bank transfer
Most players will find it easy to open and fund an account, even with no prior experience in online poker. The mechanics of funding a poker account are no different than making an online purchase anywhere else.
Players can withdraw their funds through most of the same methods used to deposit, aside from credit/debit cards. PayPal, Skrill, and electronic bank transfers all deliver fast transaction speeds and adequate security.
Reasons to Play Legal Online Poker in Pennsylvania
Playing with regulated poker sites provides tangible benefits to players in terms of safety and integrity.
- Third-party testing labs routinely verify the randomness and security of regulated poker sites in PA
- State law requires licensed operators to implement protective measures against the use of bots, collusion, and malware
- The PGCB inspects the measures PA poker sites have in place to protect customers’ funds and personal information
- Legal online poker generates tax revenue for Pennsylvania, as opposed to offshore sites that generate revenue for foreign entities