- US Online Poker
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Harrah’s Philadelphia on Thursday became the ninth land-based casino in Pennsylvania to offer online gambling in the state, doing so under the brand of its parent company Caesars.
The initial rollout of Caesars Casino & Sportsbook PA was for Android devices only. As the name suggests, the new casino products are bundled with the existing sportsbook app rather than offered as a standalone product.
The web version of the product for desktop play in-browser launched later this afternoon. However, iPhone and iPad users will have to wait a while. Apple’s requirements for iOS App Store approval have made such delays relatively commonplace nowadays.
The new product is almost identical to Caesars Casino New Jersey but with fewer game titles. There are 12 slots at launch and no other types of games, though more are sure to be added in the near future.
Caesars is middle-of-the-pack among NJ online casinos — both in terms of its online product and revenue for its physical property there, Harrah’s Atlantic City. Without holding an edge in that regard, it may have a hard time in Pennsylvania against more established competition.
That said, two of the top three PA online casinos were also late arrivals to the market. So perhaps a late launch isn’t an insurmountable handicap after all.
Pennsylvania was originally expected to have a synchronized launch of its online casinos and poker sites in July 2019. Things proved more complicated, however.
Only three operators were ready to go live in the first week: SugarHouse, Parx, and Hollywood. Then PokerStars and Unibet followed in November. The new year got off to a busier start as FanDuel and BetAmerica and BetRivers joined the crowd in quick succession.
Caesars is the second-to-last of the conventional licensees to go live with its product. Wind Creek is expecting to launch a site at some point but with no date specified.
The only other land-based property with an online casino license which has not yet launched is Live! Casino & Hotel. It hasn’t even opened the doors to its land-based property yet and doesn’t plan to begin interactive operations until next year.
MGM and Golden Nugget will bring their online casinos to the state eventually too. Despite not being among Pennsylvania’s brick-and-mortar casinos, these companies snapped up licenses as qualified gaming entities after Meadows and Lady Luck declined the opportunity.
Caesars owns the World Series of Poker (WSOP), which runs the largest legal poker network in the US in partnership with 888. They’re poised to offer online poker in Pennsylvania too, though there is still no firm timetable for launch.
PA online poker has been even slower getting going than its casino counterpart. PokerStars launched its poker site in November last year — at the same time as its casino — and to date remains the only online poker room in the state.
WSOP/888’s biggest advantage over its competitors is that it’s currently the only operator able to share liquidity between multiple states. Until the Gaming Control Board loosens the leash, however, Pennsylvania won’t be able to join the shared player pool with New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware.
That said, US online poker traffic is at an all-time high these days due to the closure of brick-and-mortar card rooms. The WSOP/888 network has had great success with online tournaments of late, too. Caesars announced this week that it was postponing the 2020 WSOP in Las Vegas, but that more special online tournaments would be on the way over the summer.
Between those factors and the launch of Caesars’ sportsbook and casino, WSOP PA may not be far off either.