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Pennsylvania casino launches online poker games, a first in the state

PokerStars went live at 2 p.m. Monday for two days of tests under the supervision of state regulators.

A dealer flips a poker hand.
A dealer flips a poker hand.

Pennsylvania’s first online poker operator launched Monday, the latest option created by the state’s 2017 law that expanded gambling.

PokerStars went live at 2 p.m. for two days of tests under the supervision of state regulators. The peer-to-peer poker games, in which players compete online, are being launched in partnership with Mount Airy Casino Resort in the Poconos and Fox Bet.

“We’re excited to launch PokerStars as the first and currently the only online poker option available to players in Pennsylvania,” Matt Primeaux, Fox Bet president, said in a statement.

Online poker has an ardent following, but it generates less revenue for casinos and taxing authorities than other interactive gambling options, such as slot machines and table games. In New Jersey, where online gambling has been in place for five years, peer-to-peer poker generated $1.6 million in September, about 4% of the internet gaming win of $41.1 million.

Online poker peaked in New Jersey in 2016, when it generated $26.5 million in revenue. It fell to $21.4 million in 2018.

Poker is one of three online gambling options for casinos under the 2017 law, which legalized sports betting, online lottery, video gaming terminals in truck stops, and satellite casinos. For a $10 million fee, casinos could buy licenses to offer poker, slot machines, and table games.

Fox Bet and PokerStars are launching the game at the same time as they are unveiling PokerStars Casino, making them the first operator to offer all three gambling options on the same platform. Fox Bet is offering a range of incentives and bonuses to new customers who sign up for the PokerStars and PokerStars Casino apps.

Hollywood Casino, Parx Casino, and already offer online casino games in Pennsylvania.