The wait is over, Pennsylvania poker players! Borgata Poker and BetMGM Poker PA sites are now live for testing as of April 27.
The PGCB confirmed to PlayPennsylvania that both sites will undergo a two-day testing period starting Tuesday. Assuming all goes as planned, BetMGM and Borgata poker will be fully operational in PA beginning April 29.
After nearly 1.5 years with a single online poker operator, there are now three.
BetMGM and Borgata poker apps operate on the same platform in the partypoker US network. They also share player pools but operate under different iGaming licenses in PA, meaning players can take advantage of sign-up bonuses on both sites when they’re fully live.
BetMGM Poker and Borgata PA give players more options
BetMGM poker launched under the Hollywood Casino Grantville iGaming license, just as BetMGM online casino did in PA. Borgata online casino and poker room are partnered with Rivers Casino Philadelphia. But that isn’t stopping the sites from sharing players.
As PGCB spokesperson Doug Harbach told PlayPennsylvania:
“Players can enter via either provider and be combined into one when it comes to playing cash or tournament games.”
The combined pools should help the newest poker operators compete with PokerStars PA, which got a sizable head start in the market. BetMGM is also live in New Jersey and Michigan, while the Borgata skin is also live in NJ.
In Michigan’s nascent online poker market, PokerStars also got about a two-month head start over BetMGM. PokerStars’ opening series in MI performed much better than BetMGM’s, but that was largely thanks to a disparity in scheduling.
PokerStars set out with an ambitious MI Championship of Online Poker series with 60 tournaments and $1 million guaranteed. BetMGM’s first Michigan series promised $300,000 over 10 events. Ultimately, both bested their guarantees. The recent BetMGM Online Series paid out over $360,000 while PokerStars MICOOP topped $2.2 million in prize pools.
Tournaments and games on offer at BetMGM and Borgata Poker PA
The new PA poker rooms stick to the familiar top three popular games, for now:
- No-limit Texas hold’em
- Fixed limit hold’em
- Pot Limit Omaha (Hi and Hi-Lo)
Using the tabs atop the app, players can choose from cash games, sit & go tournaments, multi-table tournaments (“Tourneys”), Fast Forward (fast fold cash games), and Spin & Go (short-handed jackpot style SNGs). NLH and PLO cash games run from stakes of $0.01/$0.02 to $25/$50, while the fixed-limit hold’em games go from $0.02/$0.04 to $30/$60.
PA players can expect similar tournament series as those BetMGM and Borgata run in other states, but guarantees may be a bit bigger. To start, it looks as though PA players will get:
- Daily $10Ks, $109 buy-in
- Mega Tuesday $535 buy-in $12K GTD
- Thursday $320 buy-in PKO Bounty (progressive knockout), $10K GTD
- Sunday $40K, $215 buy-in
- Dozens of other daily tournaments
- Keystone Grind promo: Earn up to $6,500 in a month via poker credits (iRPs) earned for real-money cash games and tournaments
These partypoker US network sites will also likely host an opening series soon for PA players.
BetMGM poker, casino, and sportsbook are all integrated on one app. If a Borgata Sportsbook launches in PA, it would also integrate with Borgata poker and casino online.
How to download Borgata and BetMGM Poker apps in PA
Looking for Borgata Poker in PA? It is in the app store. Put Borgata poker in search bar. Although it says “play from anywhere in NJ,” it is for PA users. You can login with Borgata online casino credentials or create a new user ID.
Getting started on BetMGM and Borgata poker PA:
- Download and install each app or client
- Create an account and pick a username
- Deposit funds easily with a range of options
- Try out play money games to get comfortable before playing for real money if you want
Why the lag?
Poker players in PA rejoiced when PokerStars launched Nov. 4, 2019 and understandably, they expected more sites to follow soon after. But a cocktail of factors caused delays and made the PA poker market less appealing.
Concerns over a 2018 DOJ Wire Act Opinion led PA regulators to raise requirements for operators. That included requiring separate PA servers for each site, even ones already live in New Jersey. Additionally, shared liquidity or the sharing of player pools across states, seemed unlikely in the near term.
However, a court decision in January 2021 overturned the Opinion which claimed the Wire Act applied not just to sports betting across state lines but all forms of interstate online gambling. The latest decision clears the way for PA and other states like Michigan to join interstate compacts like the one that already exists between NJ, Nevada, and Delaware. The addition of MI and PA to these existing joint player pools will drive up tournament guarantees, poker action, and of course, operator revenue.
PokerStars has done well in PA, but its revenue pales in comparison to what PA online casinos are bringing in. In March, PokerStars poker site accounted for $2.4 million in revenue, while PokerStars/Fox Bet online casino made $4.8 million. PA online casinos combined brought in a record $95.3 million in March.
Relatively low revenue combined with a relatively high tax rate (16%) for online poker is thus another likely reason operators weren’t clamoring to launch poker sites in Pennsylvania. However, the tides seem to be turning much more favorable for poker’s growth in Pennsylvania and in the US more generally.