The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) gave green light to BetMGM’s Interactive Gaming Operator License this Wednesday, indicating that the partypoker US Network may be close to launching operations in the Keystone State.
BetMGM and partypoker are operated by Roar Digital, which is a joint-venture between GVC and MGM in the United States. The company already runs several high-profile poker brands in multiple states, including partypoker NJ, BetMGM NJ and Borgata Poker.
Presently, partypoker is able to launch in Pennsylvania under partypoker PA, but its arrival is still debatable with no clear timeline revealed to the general public. While BetMGM now has a license, nothing in the available information suggests that the company is looking to launch online poker.
At present date, PokerStars PA remains the sole online poker card room in the state, and it has been a de facto monopolist insofar as poker is concerned. However, during a previous meeting of the board dating back to September 30, the regulator approved 888 as a possible entry into the state.
As a result, 888poker PA and WSOP PA may soon make their mark in the state. However, there have been no license applications submitted by 888 with the PGCB, meaning the company is still deliberating its next move.
Why Are Poker Operators Hesitant in Pennsylvania?
In light of Pennsylvania’s vibrant poker market, one question keeps cropping up. Why aren’t more brands queuing up to enter the market? Now, while PokerStars PA posted some $35 million in revenue so far, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the platform won as much.
Much of the money is just paid back in tournament prizes, promotions, and tax. The actual net profit is very small, and poker generally enjoys much paltrier interest than sports betting enjoy for example.
New Jersey, which has a smaller population, is still ahead in terms of overall poker revenue, or in the very least has multiple poker networks, including partypoker, PokerStars, and WSOP, making it the more advanced poker state in the country.
However, Pennsylvania can seek another incentive to attract more poker players, and precisely by joining the so-called liquidity. In other words, that would mean merging all states that support online poker and bringing their consumer bases together.
However, the complications stemming from a new opinion on the Wire Act of 1961 brought up early in 2019 means that the transaction of cross-state data, which applies to sharing liquidity, may become a federal offense before long, which forces many poker brands to play it close to the chest.
With the Wire Act hanging over the future of online poker like a Damocles sword, it’s natural that brands feel a little fidgety.