By Mike Johnson
The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) is edging closer to allowing WSOP/888poker to launch in the Keystone State and become the second online poker room available to players in Pennsylvania.
PGCB May Soon Okay WSOP and 888poker Launch
The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) is reportedly reviewing Caesars’ application to launch WSOP PA, the World Series of Poker’s online poker platform, in the Keystone State. If successful, Caesars will officially run the second online poker website in Pennsylvania after PokerStars set up shop in November 2019.
While an approval and a subsequent launch are still pending, PokerStars managed to pull in a record-high revenue in March with $3.13 million and almost double that in April with $5.25 million. With the COVID-19 pandemic subsiding, though, and casinos opening up for business, online poker will probably take a small tumble, some suspect.
Yet, this has not stopped Caesars from launching its online casino, teaming up with Harrah’s Philadelphia, the brand’s land-based partner in the Keystone State. The casino site arrived on April 23, signaling Caesars’ readiness to break into the iGaming and online gaming vertical in general.
A further confirmation of Caesars’ imminent plans included the 888 Holdings earnings call held in April during which CEO Itai Pazner said that the WSOP poker site is preparing for a launch in the Keystone State, although no details were offered. To clarify, 888poker is the platform which WSOP uses to run events.
Finalizing the Procedure and Running Background Checks
If successful, the launch would allow Pennsylvanian poker players to qualify for the WSOP held later in the fall, after the event had to be scrubbed due to the coronavirus outbreak. According to the PGCB, while the 888poker platform was ready to go, though some wrinkles remained to be ironed out, the regulator confirmed for Poker Fuse, a respected industry website.
Doug Harbach from the PGCB’s executive staff noted that there was still some background work carried out by the regulator’s investigative unit to assure full compliance. Online poker remains the only alternative for Keystone players as well, as live poker rooms won’t be returning to land-based casinos when the phased reopening begins.
On May 20, the PGCB released guidelines for the restart of casino business, but the regulator failed to issue any guidance on poker. The post-COVID-19 world will look completely different, at least at first, with players barred from possibly touching their chips, limiting the scope and scale of gameplay.
In other states, poker tables can only operate at limited capacity. All of this considered, the reopening of the casino industry and poker will take a while. Enough time for poker to continue posting strong year-over-year results. 888poker already notched up a 60% increase in its traffic in April.