Are you looking for the best legal Pennsylvania poker sites? A few days ago, PokerStars relaunched its services in Pennsylvania, albeit in a testing phase. And to demonstrate what is in store for the industry, a few hours after going live, the site had more than 600 players logged in on its first night, surpassing even the numbers it posts in New Jersey during its peak hours. This is huge considering that online poker has been running in the Garden State since 2013.
PokerStars’ dominance of the US market ground to a halt on April 15, 2011, after the US Department of Justice (DOJ) indicted it for violation of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA). For most US poker enthusiasts, this was the mythical “Black Friday” as the agency also seized the operator’s .com internet address.
Well, that’s now history. With loosening gambling laws, PokerStars has reinvented itself and found its way back into the US market, first through New Jersey and now the Keystone State. 888poker and PartyPoker are also making their way in to complete the circle and welcome back the good old online poker days.
Is Online Poker Legal in Pennsylvania? Yes!
At the end of October 2017, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf signed HB271 into law legalizing online casino games, including online poker. This law gave the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) the mandate to put together regulations governing online poker in the state. The board also had the task of licensing potential operators.
Now, over two years after lawmakers passed the law, legit sites are making their way into the Keystone state. For now, though, PokerStars PA is still the only legit online poker site that offers real money games here. Yet, it makes Pennsylvania the fourth state with legal online poker and the third with online casinos.
According to the American Gaming Association, the state is a gaming powerhouse, only second to Nevada, which hosts the world’s gambling mecca – Las Vegas. In 2018, Pennsylvania casinos generated $3.25 billion in revenue and contributed up to $1.4 billion in state taxes. With PokerStars already live and generating much interest, online poker in Pennsylvania is bound to excel. More providers will get approved as lawmakers seek additional avenues to raise funds for the state.
How Do We Rank PA Poker Sites?
While PokerStars is the only licensed online poker provider that is up and running in Pennsylvania, there are lots of other sites about to launch. So far, at least seven sites have been approved but are yet to set shop. Even so, we look at what they could potentially offer, and there records elsewhere. Here are the features we look at:
- License and regulation.
- Gaming Software
- Data security and privacy
- Payment & Withdrawal Methods
- Quality of Customer Service
- Interphase speed and ease of navigation
- Technology: live poker, video poker & 3D services.
Top 5 Pennsylvania Poker Sites in 2019
At least seven providers have conditional approval from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board to offer online poker in the state. From the seven, here is our list of the top five poker sites that will intrigue you. You must, however, note that these sites are yet to launch, so we are just speculating given the news already in the public domain.
1. Harrah’s Philadelphia - Big Money Booth Coming Soon
Harrah’s Philadelphia is among the top contenders for a spot in the Pennsylvania online market. Given its run in the land-based market, there’s no doubt that it will have an immediate impact on the market.
The Philadelphia-based casino is a subsidiary of the Nevada based gaming, hotel, and casino giant, Caesars Entertainment. The same proprietor is behind Nevada and New Jersey’s WSOP online poker sites and is also accredited with the production of the famous World Series of Poker (WSOP). Thus, we are not jumping the gun by giving it the top spot in Pennsylvania as well.
So, what platform will Harrah’s Philadelphia deliver the online poker? Your guess is as good as mine, 888Poker! As to whether it will unleash 888Poker or WSOP, or introduce a new online brand altogether is something we can only wait to see. Caesars Ent. has worked with 888Poker in both Nevada and New Jersey. What we, however, know is that the site is expected to run under Harrah’s Philadelphia license.
It will be even more interesting if Pennsylvania changes tack on its ring-fenced laws to allow PA online poker sites to share liquidity with poker sites in other states such as New Jersey, Delaware, and Nevada. If and when that happens, Harrah’s will have a headstart as its siblings are already in operation in those other states.
- Legit Poker Site
- Access to WSOP satellite.
- Full range of poker events.
- Online big money booth.
- Optimized for mobile as its siblings.
- Tough bonus wagering requirements as its sister sites.
- Traffic issue if Pennsylvania doesn’t allow player pooling.
2. Valley Forge Casino - No Deposit Bonus?
Upper Merion Township-based Valley Forge Casino has shown all signs that it is joining the online poker space. The casino spent approximately $10 million for Pennsylvania online casino license, and it is currently working with GVC holdings to deliver its online poker site.
The site or the app is not out there yet, but going by this strategic partnership, the closest we need to look at is PartyPoker to know precisely what to expect. The Montgomery County outfit can equally come up with a site similar to New Jersey’s BorgataPoker, which is another partner of GVC.
We have thoroughly reviewed American looking online poker sites related to the British Gambling conglomerate, and a few features are almost constant. First, they come ID and geolocation tools, which ensures only players aged at least 21 years old and who are within a specified geographical area access real money poker. Also, customer support is likely to be available through email and live chat. But we also expect a self-exclude feature, something common in its EU-market, to help to curb compulsive gambling among Americans.
- Trustworthy partnership.
- Licensed poker.
- Both Downloadable & Instant-Play casino clients.
- A variety of poker bonuses.
- Online big money booth.
- Will be available as a desktop and mobile app
- Support for multiple methods of payments.
- Site traffic is definitely going to be an issue.
- The geo-location factor is frustrating.
3. Hollywood Casino - Get Freerolls
Hollywood Casino, owned by Penn National Gaming, is planning to integrate online poker to its already existing online casino platform. The casino holds a license that includes all three categories of interactive games—table games, slots, and online poker.
The inclusion of poker will continue Hollywood Casino’s foray into the online gambling world. It already holds the title of the first Pennsylvanian sports betting company, after it became the first company to accept a sports bet in the state. It’s already available in the Apple App Store, also a first one for PA sites.
A forward-thinking approach, perhaps as a way to recoup its relatively poor revenues, it is working on an online poker app in collaboration with IGT. The site is expected to bring the best of poker from the world’s leading game developer IGT and Swedish giant NetEnt.
As usual, we expect Hollywood to replicate the bonuses and promotions on its casino wing in the poker site.
- $25 No Deposit Welcome Bonus
- MyChoice Rewards Program
- Quality mobile platform
- Variety of poker games from IGT & NetEnt.
- Multiple cashier options, including cryptocurrencies.
- Limited games on its iOS platform.
- Liquidity owing to low tournament player numbers
4. 100% Match Up Bonus could be up for grabs with SugarHouse Casino Poker
SugarHouse Casino, like the aforementioned sites, already has PGCB’s approval to offer online gambling services, among them online poker.
The casino has performed exceptionally well in sports betting, where it is arguably the state’s number one bookie. While we expect it to transfer this success to its eminent online poker wing, its lack of poker-oriented partner seems to work against this belief. The company appears to be more focused on pushing its sports betting brand than poker.
All the same, it’s no longer a question of “if” Sugar House launches online poker in PA, but rather “when” will it do it. This is according to Rush Interactive, the casino’s parent company.
- 100% Match Up Welcome Bonus
- Available on iOS, Android & Desktop
- Excellent customer support as reflected by its casino and sportsbook
- Kambi, the SugerHouse partner, has little experience in developing online poker games.
5. Parx Casino - Grab Great Perks with XClub
Parx Casino, best known for its thoroughbred horse racing events, was expected to launch its online poker by mid-year but failed. It is not clear why, but online poker in Pennsylvania is not new to this. As you already know, PokerStars is the only poker site that has launched its online activity so far.
Greenwood Gaming and Entertainment, Inc., the parent company of Parx, has the license to offer casino, poker, and sports betting in the virtual world. Its sportsbook and casino are officially running, which could only mean poker is just around the corner.
Its successful transition into the online sphere has been helped by strategic partnerships, i.e., Kambi for its sports betting wing and GAN Inc. for its casino. GAN is an award-winning developer and supplier of enterprise-level online gaming software such as PokerBet and Poker Dice.
So, just like its rivals, we expect Parx online Poker in PA to borrow its casino features, which we include as its expected benefits.
- 100% deposit match up to $500
- Game variety.
- XClub VIP treatment.
- Localized deposit and withdrawal methods
- 24-hours Live chat and phone customer support.
- Both Kambi & GAN have a little reputation in poker development.
It’s clear, there’s Online Poker lag in Pennsylvania!
You must have noticed that all the above-listed sites have their online casino and sports betting platforms running, but they are yet to launch their online poker platforms. Indeed as a poker enthusiast, you must be scratching your head over this matter. So, what’s the big deal with poker?
There’s a straightforward explanation! The only reason several states are now revisiting gambling laws is to create avenues for more taxes. Apparently, poker is not as profitable tax contributor as casino games and sports betting. Anything else you hear, to borrow Jon Snow’s words, is horseshit. But eventually, online poker will be fully rolled out. It’s only a matter of time.
Where can I play real money Online Poker in Pennsylvania?
PokerStar PA is currently the only legit site that offers real money games in Pennsylvania. However, many other providers are yet to launch but have been approved by the PGCB. They include:
- Hollywood Casino
- Mount Airy Casino
- Harrah’s Philadelphia
- Parx Casino
- SugarHouse Casino
- Sands Bethlehem
- Valley Forge Casino
Can I Play against other US players from poker regulated states?
No, the Keystone State doesn’t allow player pooling, so you can only play against other players within the state lines.
Must I be a resident to play online poker in PA
No, however, you must be at least 21 years of age and be within state borders at the time of play.
Can I use VPN to bypass geo-location services?
No, it’s not worth the risk. If the geolocation technology discovers location masking technology such a VPN, the poker site may refuse to pay you, and worst of it all, it may confiscate your funds and block your account.