Pennsylvania poker players are among those that are most excited about expanded gambling. That’s because online poker is headed to Pennsylvania soon and much to the excitement of poker players, PokerStars is among the poker rooms that will be available in Pennsylvania. All of this could happen as early as late 2018 or early 2019.
PokerStars going live in PA would mark the first time in over seven years Pennsylvanians will be able to play on PokerStars.
It will be a momentous occasion indeed. With online poker on the horizon, we break down PokerStars PA and what poker players expect from the new PokerStars.
How did PokerStars get into Pennsylvania?
In order to offer online gambling in PA a casino must apply for an interactive gaming license. But licenses are only open for Pennsylvania’s thirteen casinos. So how is PokerStars even able to operate in the state? Through partnerships.
In August 2018, PokerStars announced a partnership with a Pennsylvania casino, Mount Airy, which was one of the first PA casinos to be approved to offer online gambling. Through a license costing $10 million, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board authorizes Mount Airy to offer online poker, online table games and online slots.
The relationship is similar to the one that PokerStars has with Resorts Casino in New Jersey. PokerStars will provide the software and the PokerStars brand name, along with what everyone loves about PokerStars, while Mount Airy essentially provides the keys to enter the state. Mount Airy could also have their own branded skin, although the PokerStars brand is strong enough in itself, the Mount Airy/PokerStars partnership may just focus on PokerStars, at least for poker.
When will PokerStars be available in PA?
In short, PokerStars could launch in Pennsylvania by the end of 2018, but it could stretch into early 2019.
Mount Airy has already been approved for an online gambling in PA, but the PGCB still has not approved all license applications from other PA casinos. In early November, the PGCB will award the remaining ten licenses — four for online poker, three each for table games and slots — to qualified gaming entities outside of Pennsylvania. Does the PGCB wait to give the final go-ahead until all licenses are allocated?
Of course, even if the PGCB gives the greenlight for launch, casinos themselves would need to have everything all set up and ready. PA online poker rooms and casinos including PokerStars will want to be careful to launch a ready-for-market poker room, but at the same time casinos will be jockeying for position in the newly opened market.
Online casinos that launch early will have an initial competitive advantage, which PokerStars has indicated they are anxious to do in PA.
PokerStars PA bonus code
PokerStarsPA is not yet live but we can take a look at New Jersey for what PokerStars Pennsylvania may look like. Players on PokerStars NJ can receive a familiar bonus, a 100% up to $600 bonus on a new deposit. This is similar to the bonus that was available to PokerStars players back in 2011. Alternatively, players can receive $30 in free play when depositing $20 or more at PokerStars New Jersey.
PokerStars also has separate bonuses for sports bettors at BetStars, where players can receive up to $500 in free bets.
The PokerStars PA website is not yet up, but stay tuned to the PA No Deposit for additional details.
PokerStars PA tournaments could impress
While PokerStars PA tournaments won’t be as big as the head-turning prize pools on PokerStars.com, tournaments will continue to be a huge part of the PokerStars experience. The Sunday Million, of course, wont be available anytime soon but players will likely find Sunday guaranteed tournaments up to $50,000 with weekday tournaments up to $20,000. In the early days of launch, we could even see larger prize pools as PokerStars looks to make their mark on Pennsylvania.
The poker room will also likely offer its own version of popular online tournament series such as WCOOP. The PokerStars NJCOOP is already the premier online tournament series in New Jersey, and features overall guaranteed prize pools around $1 million.
PA players are likely to see something similar with prize pools even higher than neighboring New Jersey. When Pennsylvania joins the PokerStars multi-state player pool, prize pools could easily double.
PokerStars VIP Program
Gone are the days of huge rewards of SuperNova when a player could earn over 60% in PokerStars rakeback. The VIP Club has given way to the more modest rewards with most players earning no more than 20%. PlatinumStar and Supernova players can earn the equivalent of 28% rakeback, which is referred to as Cumulative Monthly Rebates on PokerStars.
Players can also convert StarsCoin for cash or spend in the VIP store for additional value. StarsCoins are earned when completing “Steps,” which are achieved as you earn VPPs.
PokerStars PA will be limited to Pennsylvania for now
One of the biggest differences of PokerStars PA versus PokerStars.com is that the player pool is much smaller than it is on PokerStars.com. This is due to the fact when online poker rooms launch in new regulated market players are often “ring-fenced” at first, especially if regulations require that players are limited to those located in the state or country.
This will be the case for PokerStars PA for the time being. In the intermediate term, PokerStars PA could join forces with PokerStars NJ. A multi-state liquidity agreement already exists between Delaware, Nevada and New Jersey. Only 888/WSOP.com is currently able to take advantage of the agreement since they they are the only ones available in multiple states. In time, PokerStars may be able to merge the player pools from New Jersey and Pennsylvania together once the regulators set up a framework for bringing Pennsylvania on board.
PokerStars PA joining PokerStars.com — and merging with that huge player pool — is likely years away, as differing legal and regulatory issues could prove to be too much. In recent years, representatives in New Jersey have discussed international player pools but progress was thus far been limited. Given that Pennsylvania hasn’t even progressed to interstate poker, connecting with a global player pool will take quite some time to achieve.
What is PokerStars like these days?
Ok, so you’re one of the large percentage players that left online poker for good after PokerStars left in 2011 and you need a refresher? Is PokerStars the same as it used to be? Is it even any good any more? Frankly, a lot has changed but a lot has stayed the same as well.
PokerStars.com is still the leading online poker site in the world, offering the largest tournaments, the biggest selection of games and the largest traffic — by far. They are still a leader in the online poker world, without question. They even have a casino and sportsbook these days, which Pennsylvanians will likely see at some point as well.
One of the changes that has occured over the last few years is that PokerStars’ reputation has taken a bit of hit. Ten years ago, PokerStars was not only the biggest name in poker but also a model that any poker room that wanted to be taken seriously should strive for. Back in the day, they were a shining beacon of reputability in an industry that wasn’t always the most reliable. They did what was right, they bailed out failed poker rooms for the good of the industry and usually treated players with utmost respect.
Since 2011, PokerStars has continued to be a leader in the online poker world, but in the eyes of many poker players PokerStars has come down to earth, so to speak. PokerStars was purchased by Amaya in 2014. Many believe that since then that PokerStars has lost their way a bit while others say PokerStars is just adapting to the times in a post-poker-boom world. Unlike in previous years, PokerStars is now clearly run by a corporation and the decisions they make often seem to favor shareholders and the bottom line over the best interests of the player.
Recent examples include their removal of their highly praised VIP program, increasing of rake in some games and a focus on the recreational player versus some of the hardcore grinders. Of course, basically every other poker room makes the same kind of moves, but for so long, PokerStars seemed different. That may be disappointing to some players who haven’t played on PokerStars for some time.
Launch likely within weeks or months
Regardless of how you feel about PokerStars now, the imminent launch of PokerStars’ is something that all players can get excited about.
PokerStars knows online poker better than any other poker room and their inclusion in Pennsylvania will only be a good thing for players in the state. Players will have many options to choose from and you can bet that PokerStars, along with other poker rooms will be scrambling to prove that they are where you should play online poker in PA.
We can’t wait.
For more information on PokerStars PA and the impending launch of online poker in the state, stay tuned to PANoDeposit.com.