Partypoker coming soon to PA, Michigan
Online Poker Report

Partypoker US Network Gets A Fresh Coat Of Paint Ahead Of Pennsylvania Launch

partypoker US software update

Partypoker rolled out a significant software update on Thursday for sites on its US-facing network. The changes, which are primarily cosmetic, apply to all three of its skins: partypoker, Borgata Poker and BetMGM Poker.

Along with a cleaner overall look and feel, US players now have more customization options — including the choice between circular or rectangular table layouts. Many of the new features first appeared on the dot-com platform in December.

Borgata ambassador Michael “Gags30” Gagliano highlighted some of the changes on Twitter.

From a functionality standpoint, the biggest new feature is the ability to display tournament chip stacks in terms of big blinds. On the other hand, it doesn’t look like US players will have the “run it twice” option available to international cash game players.

Response to the changes, which some would consider overdue, has been generally positive.

The prodigal poker site

Fifteen years ago, partypoker was the biggest online poker site in the world. It surrendered its title in 2006 when Congress passed the Unauthorized Internet Gambling Enforcement Act.

While many competitors continued serving US customers thereafter, partypoker elected to comply with the law and pull out of the market. That left the door open for PokerStars to move into the leading role, a position it has not relinquished since.

On the other hand, the voluntary exit also allowed partypoker to dodge the perils of Black Friday five years later. And it has more recently begun employing some more aggressive strategies to challenge for the top spot on the international stage again, including:

  • Progressive rakeback system reminiscent of the poker boom years
  • Volume-based promotions appealing to professional players
  • Efforts to crack down on bots and create balanced policies for analysis tools
  • Frequent adjustments to tournament structures based on player feedback

Until now, though, US online poker players have mostly been left behind in those efforts.

The time is right for a partypoker reboot

Partypoker has stagnated as the third-place site in New Jersey, lagging just behind PokerStars and WSOP/888. The NJ online poker market simply isn’t big enough to justify a significant investment there, and launching a site in Nevada or Delaware has likewise not been a priority so far.

That’s about to change, however.

Online gambling is expanding in the US, and partypoker’s parent company is looking to make a splash in new markets. GVC is now firmly committed to Roar Digital, its nationwide joint venture with casino giant MGM. Although the group’s primary focus will be on sports betting and online casinos, poker figures into its plans as well.

In March, CEO Adam Greenblatt told OPR that the partypoker brand still has plenty of residual value. “Our long-term plan is to be the poker market leader in the US,” he said.

Partypoker PA launch imminent; Michigan to follow

Improvements to the product, like those included in this week’s client update, will be part of that push. Equally important will be expanding the partypoker brand to new states.

For starters, its entry into the Pennsylvania online poker market could happen quite soon.

In the most recent meeting of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, Chief Enforcement Council Cyrus Pitre said that he expects Roar’s license to be up for consideration before next month’s meeting. BetMGM will no doubt want to get its online casino off the ground as soon as it receives the licenses, and it may well be ready to launch a partypoker PA site too.

Online casino and poker are expected in Michigan later this year or early in 2021. BetMGM and partypoker have no worries there as far as finding a land-based partner goes thanks to the presence of the MGM Grand in Detroit.

The company also has the ability to launch in Nevada and West Virginia if it chooses to. However, due to the small size of these markets, it may hold off on them until the legal questions surrounding interstate liquidity sharing have been settled.

Alex Weldon
- Alex is a freelance writer and artist living in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. He has been doing data-based analysis of the online gaming industry since 2016.
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