The long-awaited soft launch for Pennsylvania online poker rooms BetMGM Poker PA and Borgata Poker has begun. The two rooms, which operate under separate casino licenses, but which use the same software platform, opened for limited real-money play at 6 pm EDT on Tuesday, and are expected to go 24/7 by the end of the week.
Together, the two new online poker rooms will share player pools and form the newly-launched Pennsylvania wing of the partypoker US Network. That network already operates in neighboring New Jersey and though future liquidity-sharing is planned, for now, Pennsylvania’s partypoker US Network players can only compete against each other.
In opening, the two new rooms also shatter the online-poker monopoly that PokerStars has enjoyed in the Keystone State for roughly a year-and-a-half. Though the delay for the new BetMGM and Borgata online rooms may have been anticipated, it had already been planned for and explained as a part of Pennsylvania regulators’ software testing and approval process.
Two land-based licensees unite behind online network
One oddity behind the new rooms is that they are licensed by separate land-based casinos, but will work together as a unified network. All of Pennsylvania’s online sites are licensed in partnership with one of the state’s existing casinos. For BetMGM, that partnership exists with Hollywood Casino in Grantville, near Harrisburg, while Borgata Poker’s relationship is with Rivers Casino Philadelphia. BetMGM’s online casino has already been operating, also in partnership with Hollywood Casino.
While hundreds of players flocked to the sites in their first hours of operation, actual play was limited, as expected. Being mirrors of each other, the two sites will offer the same games. For cash-game play, current selections include Texas Hold’em, in either no-, pot- or fixed-limit versions, and Omaha, in the same versions and either hi-only or hi/lo (eight-or-better) variants. Tournaments will offer the same variants at numerous stakes and formats.
WSOP.com soon to make it a Penn quartet
The regulated online poker market in Pennsylvania will soon see further expansion. With 12.8 million residents as of 2021, Pennsylvania is the most populous US state where legalized online poker is available. Overall, it’s the fifth-most populous state in the country behind California, Texas, Florida, and New York.
Smaller states have been able to support multiple online rooms, including neighboring New Jersey, where WSOP.com, PartyPoker, and PokerStars each have healthy market shares.
WSOP.com is also nearing approval to offer its own services in Pennsylvania, which will make it the fourth regulated site to go live. The Pennsylvania WSOP.com site will operate in a licensing partnership with the Caesars-owned Harrah’s Philadelphia Casino.
As with its competitors, WSOP.com will also be looking for Pennsylvania’s politicians and gambling regulators to quickly enter into player-sharing agreements with some or all of the other regulated US online-poker states. Those states are New Jersey, Delaware, Nevada, and most recently, Michigan.