PokerStars to Launch Pennsylvania’s First Online Poker Site Next Week

  • Soft launch of Mount Airy-branded online poker room begins November 4
  • Players must be located within state borders to access site's offering
  • More online poker sites expected to launch by end of year
Pennsyvlania road sign
With its Mount Airy-branded site set to go live on Monday, PokerStars will be launching the first online poker room in the state of Pennsylvania. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Mount Airy-branded online poker room to debut Monday

PokerStars is set to launch in Pennsylvania on Monday, November 4, according to a report from PlayPennsylvania. Stars will become the first online poker room to go live in the Keystone State. The news was revealed at a Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) meeting.

“We have staff prepared to initiate and oversee a test launch this Monday of another online casino gaming site, this one licensed under Mount Airy Casino and their suite of casino-type games,” PGCB spokesperson Douglas Harbach said.

Mount Airy Casino is partnered with PokerStars for online poker

While PokerStars is not mentioned in the statement, Mount Airy Casino is partnered with PokerStars for online poker, so the implication is apparent.

PokerStars era begins with testing period

Monday will be the beginning of what is often called a soft launch, or public testing period. Harbach said the start of the testing could “slide” if issues arise, but there is no reason to think that will happen at this point. No timeline was given for the soft launch other than the start date.

Typically, these test periods last anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks. When it is over, there may be a short downtime – half a day or a day, possibly – before the site goes fully live. There is not usually much difference between the functionality of an online poker site from the testing period to the full launch. If problems pop up, the full launch could be delayed.

Pennsylvania players only

The announced launch will see intrastate online poker offered, which means everyone on the PokerStars/Mount Airy site must be located within Pennsylvania state boundaries.

It is expected that Pennsylvania will eventually enter into interstate compacts with New Jersey, Delaware, and Nevada, but that is likely to be a long way off. PokerStars has a site in New Jersey, so it would be able to create the second interstate online poker network in the U.S., after WSOP/888.

Counting Mount Airy, seven of the state’s casinos have been granted online poker licenses.

Online Poker Report noted that PGCB Executive Director Kevin O’Toole said he expects other online poker sites to launch in the next month to month-and-a-half. Counting Mount Airy, seven of the state’s casinos have been granted online poker licenses.

The most logical candidates to launch next are the ones that already have experience in regulated U.S. jurisdictions. These include Harrah’s, which has partnered with some combination of WSOP and 888 in Nevada, Delaware, and New Jersey. Another is the online poker card room partypoker, which has a site in New Jersey and is teamed up with Valley Forge in Pennsylvania.

A long time coming

Online gambling was legalized in Pennsylvania two years ago. Since then, three online casinos and five online sportsbooks have launched.

In April, it was announced that online poker and online casino sites were supposed to go live on July 15, but only the Parx and Hollywood Casinos got off the ground. They were trailed by Sugarhouse Casino’s online casino a couple of days later.

Of the five internet sportsbooks, three – Sugarhouse, Rivers, and Parx – launched before July 15. There were multiple rumors that some online poker rooms would come to life in September, but the month came and went with no activity.