Pennsylvanians may be able to play for WSOP bracelets online this summer, according to Vice President of 888 Holdings Yaniv Sherman.
As the official online partner of Caesars Entertainment, 888 is responsible for powering WSOP.com’s US platforms. With sites already active in New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware, Sherman wants to add Pennsylvania.
Speaking to Pokerfuse, the 888 executive said WSOP.com PA should go live in the first half of 2021. If all goes to plan, he wants online bracelet events to be available in the Keystone State this summer.
WSOP.com Pennsylvania Should Launch Soon
Sherman was unable to provide a specific date for the launch, though he says many of the necessary cogs are already in place.
888 Holdings was granted an online gaming license in Pennsylvania last October. However, COVID-19 put the brakes on a quick launch as WSOP executives spent much of 2020 finding ways to keep the wheels turning without any live events.
At the same time, COVID-19 restrictions were disrupting the WSOP, the Department of Justice (DOJ) was trying to overturn a 2019 ruling on the Wire Act. If successful, the appeal could have made interstate online poker illegal. The issue at hand goes back to 2011 when the DOJ asserted that the Wire Act only prevents sports bets/information from being transmitted across state lines. Thus, it didn’t apply to other forms of gambling, such as poker.
The DOJ reversed its opinion in 2018 and, in January 2019, it gave operators 90 days to get their affairs in order. The New Hampshire Lottery challenged the new ruling on the grounds it would harm ticket sales.
US District Court Judge Paul Barbadoro ruled in June 2019 that the Wire Act only applies to sport. The DOJ appealed the decision two months later and it took until January 2021 for the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit to reject that appeal.
Had the DOJ’s appeal gotten through, it could have made cross-state liquidity sharing pacts illegal. Fortunately, for gaming sites, it didn’t.
That means WSOP.com PA is free to share players with its counterparts in New Jersey, Delaware, and Nevada. In turn, that should make for even more online action during this year’s World Series of Poker.
WSOP Ready to Challenge PokerStars’ Monopoly
When the new platform goes live, it will use 888’s new Poker 8 app. The first incarnation of the software was released in Europe back in 2019.
In addition to improved layouts, Poker 8 introduced new features such as time banks, automatic rebuys, and a new note taking system.
WSOP.com Pennsylvania will feature the latest version of the software, something that should give it another USP within the market. That’s important because PokerStars has had a monopoly in the state since 2019.
With no competition, Stars has established a strong base with events such as the Pennsylvania Championship of Online Poker (PACOO). However, with upgraded software and the scope to offer online bracelet events, WSOP.com could mount a serious challenge to PokerStars in2021.