888 Poker and its partner Harrah's Casino finally approved in Pennsylvania
October 15, 2020
Hanging in limbo, 888 or WSOP.com has trudged a long path of confusion as legislature in Pennsylvania remained unsure of whether to approve it or not. After close to a year where Pokerstars held the only legal license in the state for online poker casino operations, legislature approved 888 as the second online casino operator in the state.
Road to Legalization with Many Twists and Turns
To understand the legalization of online poker in Pennsylvania, you first have to see how Pennsylvania approached the subject with caution. Years of bills and discussions seemed to come to no fruition. Finally, in October 2017, everyone reached an agreement, and Governor Tom Wolf signed the bill into law on October 30, 2017.
At the time, Pennsylvania stood as the fourth state to legalize online poker, and they were the third in the nation to legalize online casino games. This shows that while it took time, they arrived at a conclusion.
The Development of Legalization
Over the next two years, online operators signed partnerships with land-based casinos. You had a couple of reasons for this. For example, some wanted to open up sports betting, while others hoped to launch into online casino slots and tables. You had close to a dozen casinos in Pennsylvania who wanted a slice of the pie. Seven paid to get online poker licenses like Hollywood, Sands Bethlehem, Parx, Mount Airy, Harrah's Philadelphia, SugarHouse and Valley Forge.
Unfortunately, nothing in the realm of online poker opened up until Pokerstars, in partnership with Mount Airy, received its online license in 2019.
Virtual Monopoly on Online Poker
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and throughout 2019, Pokerstars held a virtual monopoly on online poker in Pennsylvania. The lack of competition made it questionable practice, but public officials finally approved 888 Poker and its partner Harrah's Casino in September 2020. While approved to operate in Pennsylvania, 888 will have to work with PGCB to perform a soft launch and testing that will eventually put 888 on the online poker map.
The approval puts the wheels in motion, but 888 could have a road ahead of it. With the slow movement of legislature in Pennsylvania, no one knows when 888 will officially open. The second round of COVID-19 ominously knocks on our nation's door, and with land-based casinos largely closed, it would make sense to open a second online poker platform.