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Today is the day online poker players in Pennsylvania have waited years to see.
Should the two days elapse without incident, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board will approve the sites for full launch on Wednesday, Nov. 6.
Parent company The Stars Group confirmed the launch of both PokerStars PA and PokerStars Casino in a press release issued Monday afternoon. As of last month, the group also offers PA online sports betting under the Fox Bet brand.
“We’re excited to launch PokerStars as the first and currently the only online poker option available to players in Pennsylvania,” said President Matt Primeaux.
“Including today’s launch of our highly rated casino product, which is now available in the Fox Bet and PokerStars apps, we’re proud to say we’re currently the only online provider offering all three forms of regulated gaming in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.”
All three products are available for web and mobile devices, including both iOS and Android.
PA online gambling (or “interactive gaming”) is legal under a package of laws passed in late 2017. Two years later — and more than eight years after Black Friday — launch is a breath of fresh air for poker players in the Commonwealth and across the US.
Pennsylvania is the fourth state with legal online poker, joining New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware.
PokerStars is, so far, the only regulated online poker site operating in Pennsylvania. It also happens to be the largest site in the world with more than 200 billion hands dealt worldwide since its launch in 2001.
The Pennsylvania site will start small, though, ring-fenced to players physically located in the state. That may change in the future, but PA’s willingness to join the existing multi-state poker alliance likely hinges on a favorable resolution in the Wire Act case.
It’s important to remember that this is a soft launch, designed more for testing than for showing off. Players won’t yet find the full variety of games and stakes, though a successful test should spawn a full rollout within days.
The site already has its first face, though. This weekend, PokerStars Ambassador (and Pennsylvania native) Jennifer Shahade attended a UFC fight at Madison Square Garden decked out in her new uniform:
“Finally, PokerStars is available in my hometown and I couldn’t be more thrilled,” Shahade said. “Players in Pennsylvania have been looking forward to this day, and I can’t wait to be a part of all the action. Hope to see many of you on the tables!”
PokerStars operates in Pennsylvania under the license of Mount Airy Casino.
PokerStars PA is welcoming new customers by putting money straight in their accounts.
Players who register using the code FREE30 get $30 free, and the site will match 100% of first deposits up to $600 too. PokerStars is also offering daily $1,000 welcome freerolls from Nov. 7-16, along with a $20,000 freeroll on Nov. 17.
This is all very new for Pennsylvania, and today’s launch creates as many questions as it answers. We’ll try to help you sort through the basic details below.
If there’s anything in particular you’re wondering about, let us know on Twitter.
In order to be eligible to play on PokerStars PA, customers must be 21 or older and physically located within the borders of Pennsylvania. Residency is not a requirement, but players must have a valid social security number to play for real money.
No, the two sites are completely independent. All players need to create a new account in Pennsylvania, though the software does ease the process for customers with existing accounts on other PokerStars platforms.
Yes, players can earn Stars Rewards points across the group’s poker, casino, and sports betting products in Pennsylvania.
Deposit options include PayPal, Visa/Mastercard, Echecks, PayNearMe and Stars Transfer.
To start off online poker play in Pennsylvania, PokerStars is offering:
More specialized offerings include Omaha Hi/Lo, 2-7 Triple Draw Lowball, Stud, 8-Game and Razz. However, early player interest centered on NL hold’em and PL Omaha.
Neither spin & gos nor Zoom tables are available in PA pending regulatory approval.
The first tournament kicked off at 3 p.m. with 140 players paying $5 each to play NLHE turbo for a $637 prize pool. SugarDaddyPA won the first Pennsylvania online poker tournament for a payday of $121.
Here’s Fox Bet CEO Robin Chhabra on what to expect in the lobby in the future:
We’ll be bringing some of our most popular games and tournaments, enjoyed by players around the world, and tailoring them for the Pennsylvania market. It’s a fresh start, so we’ll have a new tournament schedule designed specifically for the market and we’ll aim to be flexible with that in response to player demand. Anyone who has made the trip to play on PokerStars in New Jersey will see a lot of similarities — and some key differences — in our PA offering.