Partypoker, WSOP Among Challengers to PokerStars’ Online Poker Monopoly in PA

Pennsylvania online poker players will be happy to know they will soon have multiple top-notch poker sites from which to choose.

Experienced poker players know that sometimes you have to be very patient when waiting for the right cards to come. Online poker players in Pennsylvania are going to have be patient a little longer to see when the next online poker room launches.

Since November 2019, PokerStars PA has been the lone online poker option for players in the Keystone State. The site has enjoyed its monopoly thus far, but the race to see which online poker room will be its first challenger continues in earnest.

Who might join PokerStars PA next? A couple of candidates stand out from the pack at present, although both are going to have to wait a bit before launching.

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partypoker and ROAR

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) had its most recent monthly meeting on Aug. 5. It was thought that meeting might produce news that partypoker had moved one step closer to launching an online poker room in PA.

But no such news came from the PGCB. That means another month (at least) before any new online poker sites come to PA.

GVC Holdings owns the partypoker platform. Along with MGM, GVC jointly owns ROAR Digital, operator of the partypoker NJ site.

During the July meeting of the PGCB, the board’s Chief Entertainment Counsel Cyrus Pitre had indicated ROAR might have its licensed approved in August.

But while Unibet and Evolution Gaming received permanent licenses at the meeting, ROAR — including partypoker — continues to wait.

WSOP and Harrah’s Philadelphia

With no live World Series of Poker this summer, the WSOP recently completed the first part of its WSOP Online bracelet series on WSOP.com.

Players from New Jersey and Nevada were able to compete for 31 bracelets and over $26 million prizes during July. But alas, Pennsylvanians had to wait on the virtual rail.

In late May, WSOP officials told USPoker they were working toward obtaining regulatory approval to launch in Pennsylvania, and Doug Harbach of the PGCB confirmed that Caesars’ online poker application was pending.

But there was no talk of WSOP.com PA or Harrah’s at the regulators’ August meeting.

Others potentially seeking seats at PA online poker table

Five other Pennsylvania casinos are licensed to operate online poker rooms in PA, pending regulators’ approval. They are:

  • Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course
  • Parx Casino and Racing
  • Rivers Casino Philadelphia (formerly SugarHouse)
  • Valley Forge Casino Resort
  • Wind Creek Bethlehem (formerly Sands Casino Resort)

Pennsylvania online poker players will surely welcome any new options with open arms.

Brick-and-mortar poker rooms in PA closed in mid-March due to the coronavirus. Since then, the state’s 12 casinos have all reopened with limited capacity. However, their poker rooms have remained shuttered per safety guidelines of health officials and the PGCB.

PokerStars PA has been a popular option during the interim, including most recently during the just-completed Bounty Builder series in which players won nearly $2 million.

But a second online poker room — and perhaps a third and fourth — will bring needed variety and some healthy competition to the nascent PA online poker market.

A $50 Million June for PA Online Casino Promotes Recovery in Wounded Market

Amid a 51% year-over-year PA gaming revenue decline, online gambling remained a bright spot in June, and hope is dawning for land-based casinos.

Even with the reopening of most brick-and-mortar casinos in June, it was a mixed month.

Live and online casino operations, plus daily fantasy contests and VGTs, combined to bring in $132.6 million in PA gaming revenue in June, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) showed in its monthly revenue report. Compared to June 2019’s $271.3 million, it was a 51.1% drop year-over-year.

But without iGaming, which wasn’t yet live in June 2019, it could have been much worse.

In June, online slots, table games and online poker combined for $50 million in revenue, down a bit from the still-record $55.8 million in May.

iGaming slots, table games and poker

Of the $50 million June gross revenue, the sole poker site PokerStars PA accounted for $3.2 million.  That’s down from $4.6 million in May but still the third-best month for the operator.

Online casino (slots and tables) brought in $46.8 million in June, compared to the record $51.2 million in May. Of that, $36.8 million was from internet slots and another $10 million came from table games.

Internet casino-type games were not yet operational last June. The first online casino operator launched in July 2019, while PokerStars added online poker to PA in early November 2019.

June online casino breakdown by PA operator

A complete breakdown of June revenue, including slots and tables games by operator (online gaming license holder), can be found here:

Casino OperatorTotal RevenueSlots RevenueTable Games Revenue
Rivers Philly* (SugarHouse & BetRivers)$15.0 million$13.3 million$1.7 million
Penn National* (Hollywood & DraftKings)$9.6 million$7.7 million$1.8 million
Valley Forge (FanDuel)$7.8 million$4.6 million$3.2 million
Parx Casino$6.2 million$5.0 million$1.2 million
Mt. Airy (PokerStars & FOXBet)$4.5 million$2.7 million$1.8 million
Mohegan Sun Pocono (Unibet)$2.5 million$2.2 million$377,000
Harrah's Philly (Caesars)$761,000$742,000$18,000
Presque Isle Downs (BetAmerica)$498,000$504,000-$7,000
Totals:$46.8 million$36.8 million$10.0 million

Top iGaming sites in PA

The overall revenue leader for online sites in June was Rivers Philly, which operates SugarHouse and BetRivers. It had total revenue of $15.0 million. Slots accounted for $13.3 million, and $1.7 million came from table games.

Penn National’s Hollywood and DraftKings sites combined for $9.6 million, with $7.7 million from slots and $1.8 million from table games.

Valley Forge’s FanDuel was third, but tops in table revenue with $3.2 million, and a healthy $4.6 million from slots.

Parx also remains a strong revenue producer, with $5 million from slots and $1.2 million from table games.

Online sports betting on the up and up

June’s total sports wagering handle was $89 million, 15% higher than the May 2020 total of $77.51 million.

At the same time, the taxable revenue figure for June was $6.7 million, 38% higher than the May taxable revenue of $4.8 million. Of that, online sports wagering accounted for $6.8 million, with retail in the negative by about $99,000. 

Valley Forge led the way with $2.9 million from online.

Hollywood Casino at Penn National lost more than $10,000 in retail, and it has no online presence yet, though it has said it hopes to launch in August.

Mohegan Sun Pocono had no sports revenue, nor did two still-shuttered off-site satellite books in Oaks and South Philly operated by Parx Casino.

Although PA gambling revenue for June was down significantly year-over-year, signs of recovery are beginning to peek out from the clouds.

PokerStars PA Has Meteoric Rise To Record April Revenue, Biggest Prize Pool Yet

A look at the rise of PokerStars PA since its November launch and factors contributing to record March and April revenue for the lone PA online poker operator.

Another month, and another record broken.

In March, PA online gambling smashed through to record revenues. In particular, online poker soared to new heights, boasting a 71% month-over-month increase to the tune of $3.13 million in revenue.

The surge only continued in April. The lone PA poker operator, PokerStars PA, posted $5.25 million in revenue, with the state profiting $837,550. That was a 68% increase over the previous record, set in April.

The Keystone State ordered a forced shutdown of its brick-and-mortar casinos in mid-March as part of efforts contain the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), and housebound players have looked for other means of entertainment.

Primarily, PA online casinos have reaped the benefits of people staying home. PA iGaming was up 73% in revenue compared to March, which was the previous best for the industry. April saw online gaming revenue in PA shoot up to $41.3 million, which added up to $18.3 million in tax revenue for state and local entities.

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Looking back at PokerStars PA revenue since launch

Certainly, the lone online poker operator for the Keystone State has gone from strength to strength since its launch.

Even during its debut month in November 2019, PokerStars PA posted revenue numbers of close to $2 million. With a 16% tax rate (state and local combined), PA profited by $314,479.

PokerStars PA did see the traditional drop in revenue during the months of January and February, but this seems to also hold true when comparing New Jersey’s yearly numbers.

Since the closure of live gambling venues, online numbers have continued to climb.

MonthRevenue
Nov. 2019$1,965,494
Dec. 2019$2,473,137
Jan. 2020$2,157,266
Feb. 2020$1,830,356
March 2020$3,133,019
April 2020$5,253,304

First PASCOOP smashes guarantees by $1.2 million

A big bolster for the PA online poker revenue numbers in April was the successful completion of the inaugural Pennsylvania Spring Championship of Online Poker (PASCOOP).

PASCOOP consisted of 50 poker events made up of “High” and “Low” buy-ins. In total, 100 tournaments with an overall guaranteed prize pool of $2 million played out.

The increase in player traffic ultimately shattered the guaranteed prize pool to the tune of $3.2 million. Only four tournaments didn’t meet the guarantees, and the overlays added up to a measly $4,741.50.

PokerStars PA Ambassador Jennifer Shahade won Event No. 28-H, known as the Sunday Special. With an entry fee of $200, Shahade won $11,527 for her efforts while streaming her first Twitch session. For more about “JenShahadePA,” read the PlayPennsylvania interview.

Bright future ahead for PokerStars PA

For the foreseeable future, it appears that PokerStars PA will continue its meteoric rise, especially since brick-and-mortar casinos still remain closed.

In fact, it just offered up Pennsyl-MANIA, which ran May 17–18. For a buy-in of $200, the event posted the largest prize pool guarantee in the site’s history.

True to its word, Pennsyl-MANIA received double the entries needed to hit the guarantee. The tournament topped out at an official 2,774 total entries. The guarantee didn’t just meet the $250,000 mark, it hit a staggering $515,964 prize pool — the biggest yet in PA poker.

Even when casinos do reopen in PA, it’s likely that live poker rooms won’t reopen until some time later. With that being the case, and with the popularity of online poker in PA peaking, the record numbers are likely to be sustained for weeks to come.

PokerStars PA Keeps Home Games Alive & Hosts $250K Pennsyl-MANIA

Online poker players in Pennsylvania can host their own home games at PokerStars PA and play in a $250K guaranteed tournament this weekend.

As stay-at-home orders remain in effect across Pennsylvania, PokerStars PA continues to provide some welcome entertainment. And best of all, you don’t even have to play for real money if you don’t want to.

PokerStars’ Home Games feature allows online poker enthusiasts a chance to continue sitting at the tables and connecting with friends — without violating social distancing rules.

PokerStars is also offering its biggest tournament to date, coming up on Sunday, May 17.

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PokerStars PA Pennsyl-MANIA guarantees $250K prize pool

To compete in Pennsyl-MANIA, online poker players in PA just need to pony up a $200 buy-in. The tournament begins at 5 p.m. on Sunday, with Day Two starting at 7 p.m. Monday.

The tournament comes with a guaranteed prize pool of $250,000 — the biggest yet. For those who bust out in the first five hours of play, there are five re-entries allowed before the close of registration.

PokerStars Home Games offer a private way to play with friends

Poker players who miss the social aspect of private poker games with friends can create their own Home Games at PokerStars PA. Home Games are private games in either cash or tournament format that require an invitation.

Also, friends don’t need to be physically present in Pennsylvania, but they have to be set up for play money.

How to set up your own Home Game on PokerStars PA

Ready to set up your own Home Game on PokerStars PA? Well, the good news is it’s easy as pie.

First, after logging in, look at the bottom right of the lobby. Here, you will see shortcuts. There are three dots located at the bottom, and once you click that button, the “Home Games” option pops up.

The next steps are pretty intuitive and easy to follow:

  • Create your own “Poker Club.”
  • Invite your friends and other players to join the Home Game.
  • Manage and create your own tournaments and cash games.

Players who received an invitation need your poker Club ID, which is a seven-digit number, and the Invitation Code, which is the password.

The complete social poker experience

One of the major highlights of playing online private poker with friends is that PokerStars PA offers a multitude of options, especially some of the lesser-known poker formats.

Want to play Badugi, 2-7 Triple Draw or 8-game mix? Why not try it with friends for plenty of laughter and fun?

Truly, the most terrific part of playing private online poker games with friends is the social aspect. PokerStars PA makes the whole experience of private Home Games even better by allowing the use of webcams.

Please note: This does not mean that you can use webcams in regular tournaments or cash games, as it may violate the Terms of Service.

However, PokerStars PA customer support confirmed:

“We have no restrictions on players having a webcam on while playing on our platforms. You can be connected to other players or friends while playing Home Games.”

In these socially distant times, any means of staying in touch and socializing with friends while remaining apart is truly wonderful.

Online Casino Revenue Reaches Record $24 Million Amid A Stormy March For PA Gaming

Overall gaming revenues in Pennsylvania dropped 51% in March due to coronavirus closures, but online casinos and online poker reached record heights.

Online casino revenue soared by 24.5% in March, according to figures released by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB).

On the other hand, overall gambling revenues were down 51% for the month due to closures forced by coronavirus containment measures.

Online revenue in PA for March topped $24.3 million, marking the highest revenue to date. Total play also reached an all-time high.

March follows a February record

The March numbers come on the heels of record-setting February revenue for PA online casinos with a staggering 39.6% jump over January revenue, which was itself up 31.4% over December 2019.

Gross revenue from online slots, table games and poker in March broke down as follows:

  • $12.4 million for internet slot games
  • $8.8 million for online table games
  • More than $3.1 million for online poker

That came to nearly $8.6 million in tax revenue from online offerings.

Revenue doesn’t tell the entire story

Revenue, while important, doesn’t tell the entire story when it comes to gauging increasing player interest.

For instance, total wagers for March were $871.6 million, a 23.9% increase from February’s $703.6 million.

Handle for slot wagers increased 51.5%, while tables rose just 8.2%.

PA online casino revenue by operator in March

A complete breakdown of March revenue, including slots and tables games, can be found here:

CasinoTotal revenueSlots revenueTable games revenue
SugarHouse & BetRivers* (Rivers Casino Philadelphia)$6,757,345$4,764,687$1,992,658
FanDuel Casino (Valley Forge)$4,969,253$969,992$3,999,261
PokerStars Casino (Mount Airy Casino)$2,830,694$1,403,050$1,427,644
Parx Casino$2,728,129$2,173,693$554,436
Hollywood Casino (Penn National Race Course)$2,618,503$2,438,828$179,675
Unibet (Mohegan Sun Pocono)$803,000$517,192$285,808
BetAmerica Casino (Presque Isle Downs)$425,878$83,204$342,674
Total$21,132,802$12,350,645$8,782,156

Top online operators in PA

Rivers Casino Philadelphia was the top PA online casino operator for the month, with more than $6.75 million from online slots and table games. Slots accounted for $4.76 million, the top figure in the category.

That should be taken with a grain of salt, though, as it includes both online casino skins under the license, PlaySugarHouse and BetRivers.

It’s possible, then, that FanDuel (Valley Forge Casino Resort) was actually the top operator. FanDuel, which was the revenue leader in February with nearly $6.1 million, saw a drop in March revenue to nearly $5 million.

But FanDuel continues to own the table games category with revenue of nearly $4 million and brought in 42.5% of total online table games wagers.

Next in total revenue was PokerStars Casino (Mount Airy Casino) with more than $2.8 million in revenue from slots and tables in a near-even split. The brand brought in even more through online poker.

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Online poker taking off during shutdown

More than half of PokerStars PA’s online revenue — $3.13 million — came from poker. It represents PokerStars’ best month since launching in November and a whopping 71.2% increase from February.

As big as PokerStars PA was in March, look for its April poker number to post far bigger, as it is currently running its biggest series yetPASCOOP, and doing well with filling seats.

The increased handle for March, the continued closures of land-based casinos through April and gamblers’ growing interest in wagering online should ensure another growth month in April.