The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board broke all sorts of news in what turned out to be an eventful hearing on Wednesday.
There was the impending rebrand of SugarHouse Casino as Rivers Philadelphia.
There was also the approval of the state’s first mini-casino.
What makes the last piece of news interesting was the presentation for the retail sportsbook-poker room boasted the brands of both Mount Airy and its online partner, The Stars Group (TSG).
The prominent inclusion of TSG intimates its brands (PokerStars and Fox Bet) will have a strong online, and possibly retail presence at Mount Airy.
It was also supposed to act as a launch pad; a demonstration to other states of the viability of online poker, and the power of PokerStars product and brand.
PokerStars NJ plans included:
The plan had one serious flaw. By the time PokerStars entered the market, it was evident New Jersey didn’t possess the requisite player liquidity to create a viable online poker market.
As such, the planned poker room was shelved, PokerStars NJ tournaments have been lackluster (partially attributed to the lack of a brick and mortar poker room), and the online resurgence never materialized.
In fact, New Jersey online poker revenue has been in a state of decay for several years. PokerStars couldn’t save it. Nor did New Jersey joining forces with Nevada and Delaware to share liquidity across the 888 Poker and WSOP.com sites in the three states.
But as disappointing as New Jersey has been, PokerStars is still all-in on the US market. And maybe, just maybe, Pennsylvania is its land of opportunity.
The presentation implies it, and it would make perfect sense, but it’s not a certainty the Mount Airy poker room will be a PokerStars-branded room.
What we do know is the room will comprise the lower area of the combo sportsbook-poker room that will replace the Gypsies Night Club.
We also know it will have 3,200 square feet of floor space and boast 12 poker tables. That’s three more than the current Mount Airy room possesses.
There will also be a new convention area that would be a perfect spot to host a tournament series.
Assuming the room will be a PokerStars poker room, all of the plans PokerStars had for New Jersey suddenly come back into play. That’s particularly true if Pennsylvania (with its 13 million residents) teams up with New Jersey and shares online poker liquidity.