It took until the end of November 2019 for online poker in PA to get formally legalized. This made the Keystone State the fourth US state where players can play poker games online legally. More importantly, it marked the start of an era of safe and regulated PA poker sites.
In this article, we will take a look at the present landscape of Pennsylvania online poker. We will also see which poker websites have set up shop since the bill was introduced and what they have to offer.
Is Online Poker Legal in PA?
As we’ve said in the beginning, online poker in PA has been legal since late 2019. This means that poker pundits who reside within the state can play real-money poker at licensed online poker sites. Since the launch, the number of sites and tournaments has steadily been increasing.
However, the road to this point hit its fair share of bumps. The move to regulate online gambling began back in 2013. This is when the gaming regulatory officials first started to look into legal and regulatory requirements. Following years of discussions, studies, and delays, it took until 2017 for the legislation to move forward.
Finally, after another two-year delay, the governor of Pennsylvania, Tom Wolf, signed the Bill H 271 on November 4, 2019. Apart from PA online poker, the bill also legalized interactive casino games, daily fantasy sports, and sports betting, making history in the process.
How Legal Online Poker Sites Work in Pennsylvania
In order to start offering online poker in PA, software providers must enter a partnership with an established land-based casino. At this time, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board approved seven land-based casinos to begin offering online poker in PA. In order to apply for a license to offer casino and poker games online, casino operators must pay $10 million.
When it comes to accessing poker games online, players usually have to download a desktop client in or a mobile app. This provides a more stable playing experience and also gives players the possibility to play at more than one table at the same time. There are four main poker formats you will find at the best online poker sites:
- Poker tournaments – Although they often come with variations, in general, poker tournaments have a knockout format. Each player starts off with their own stack of chips and the gameplay continues until there is only one player left. Naturally, the winner takes the entire pot.
- Cash games – These types of games usually have two, six, or nine players. The chips have a monetary value and can be refilled up to a predetermined maximum, throughout the game.
- Sit & Go tournaments – They come with a predetermined number of players which can go up to 120. Participants buy their way in and sometimes also pay the tournament fee. The tournament is played at multiple tables and the prizes are handed out according to the tournament’s prize pool structure.
PA Online Poker: Welcome Offers and Promotions
It did not take long since the launch for Pennsylvania online poker market to become extremely competitive. But, as it often does, the competition brought players a number of benefits. Operators consistently try to one-up each other and reel in new users with promotional offers, bigger tournaments and a better choice of poker games online. Some of the promotional offers you will commonly see are the following:
- Matched welcome bonuses – This is the most commonly offered type of a welcome bonus. The operator matches your first deposit, usually 100%, essentially doubling your initial playing credit.
- No-deposit bonuses – Sometimes, poker sites offer free chips or buy-ins, without the need for a deposit. However, these types of bonuses usually come with heavy wagering requirements, before any winnings can be withdrawn.
- Reload bonuses – Operators might also offer bonuses for reloading your account down the line. However, as these bonuses are meant for existing customers, they are usually lower than welcome bonuses.
- Loyalty programs – Some operators have loyalty programs that offer tiered bonuses players unlock by being active on the website.
Depositing and Withdrawal at PA Online Poker Sites
Making online poker in PA legal made it much less risky for players to deposit and withdraw funds. Generally, the exact list of payment options varies with operators. However, these are the most common payment options you will have in the best online poker sites:
Credit / Debit cards – Making deposits with Visa and MasterCard is supported by all PA poker sites. Some also accept Discover cards.</li>
Prepaid Play+ cards – Some operators offer branded prepaid cards, which you can use to deposit and withdraw funds.
PayPal – It’s the most popular online wallet in the US. It acts as an intermediary between your bank account and the online casino, keeping your sensitive information hidden. For many PA poker players, it is the most convenient option for deposits and withdrawals.
Neteller / Skrill – Both of the services work in a similar way to PayPal and have been popular payment options in iGaming for years. Like PayPal, they have quick processing times but come with hefty fees.
eChecks – eChecks or ACH transfers are a way to transfer money directly to and from your bank account. Online operators usually allow you to pre-verify your banking information which significantly speeds up the process.
Bank Wire – Although slower than eChecks, Bank Wires are another way to transfer money directly from your bank. It’s mostly used to transfer larger amounts.
Money order / Paper Check – Although it comes with the longest processing times, most operators allow you to withdraw funds via paper checks.
Casino cage – Each Pennsylvania online poker operator gives you the option to make deposits and withdraw funds at their partnered land-based casino.
PayNearMe – Some operators allow you to make a deposit to your account through 7-Eleven and CVS stores.
PA Online Poker Partnerships
As we’ve said, online poker in PA is offered through partnerships between brick and mortar casinos and iGaming software providers. It’s important to emphasize that, for the time being, PA poker sites are ring-fenced. This means that PA players can only play with other players within the state.
In the next section, we will take a closer look at some of the best online poker sites currently active in the US.
Mount Airy Casino & PokerStars
PokerStars officially became the first one PA poker provider to launch, having entered a partnership with Mount Airy Casino Resort, back in August 2018. The casino launched as soon as Pennsylvania online poker became legal, on November 4, 2019.
PokerStars is known for its well-designed platform with many considering it to be one of the best online poker sites. It is also the largest operator in the world, offering weekly tournaments, frequent promotions, and plenty of game variations.
Valley Forge Casino and GVC / PartyPoker
Owned by GVC holdings, PartyPoker is one of the oldest poker-related brands in the US. The operator has been a hugely popular option with poker players New Jersey. The operator offers an excellent mobile platform that allows players to participate in up to 4 games. It is likely we will see it operating in Pennsylvania in the coming months.
Harrah’s Casino and 888 / WSOP.com
Through its partnership with Harrah’s Casino and 888, WSOP.com currently has the largest player base in the business. Recent WSOP.com tournaments have generated massive attention, drawing crowds of new users. The website offers six-hand and nine-hand cash games, and Sit & Go tournaments. There are also games like Pot Limit Omaha, Omaha 8 or Better, and No Limit Holden tables.
Live Poker in PA
In total, there are currently ten live poker rooms in PA. Here is the full list: