When legal online poker finally goes live in the state, a launch slated for early 2019, the Pennsylvania PokerStars platform will be in on the ground floor.
In a hearing held on November 28, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) approved PokerStars parent company The Stars Group as the official online gambling provider of Mount Airy Casino Resort.
The Stars Group and Mount Airy announced their partnership back in August, with the latter applying to offer the full range of iGaming services – poker, casino, and sports betting. Now approved, The Stars Group is set to launch Pennsylvania PokerStars as soon as the PGCB finalizes its iGaming regulatory framework early next year.
The Stars Group also plans to take advantage of Mount Airy’s sports betting license via its BetStars online sportsbook, along with its online casino offshoot.
Pennsylvania PokerStars Marks Site’s 2nd Approval Since Black Friday
Under its previous ownership, PokerStars was one of three online poker operators targeted by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) on April 15, 2011.
The company’s U.S.-facing platform was shuttered entirely, while owners and executives were charged with a litany of crimes pertaining to violations of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) of 2006.
PokerStars reached a settlement with the DOJ in 2012, and two years later, The Stars Group -known as Amaya at the time – acquired the global online poker leader for $4.9 billion.
The new ownership group immediately sought to reenter the U.S. market, which became open to iGaming legalization in December of 2011 after the DOJ revised its stance on internet gambling. After being denied entry in Nevada – the first state to launch legal online poker – based on the site’s previous status as a “bad actor,” PokerStars went live as a licensed operator in New Jersey in early 2016.
Nearly three years later, PokerStars is preparing to double its American offerings courtesy of the PGCB approval.
In August, when the company announced its partnership with Mount Airy, The Stars Group U.S. senior vice president of strategy & operations Matt Primeaux commented on the upcoming Pennsylvania PokerStars launch:
“We’re excited to take this next step as The Stars Group looks to broaden its presence in the United States.
In partnership with Mount Airy Casino Resort, we believe we’re well positioned to capitalize on opportunities in the Commonwealth by bringing our world leading offerings to Pennsylvania players.”
Vincent Jordan – vice president of marketing & gaming operations for Mount Airy – praised The Stars Group as the perfect iGaming partner for his venue:
“As one of Pennsylvania’s leaders in entertainment, offering internet sports wagering and gaming and partnering with The Stars Group is the obvious next step for us to continue diversifying our casino offerings.
Introducing internet gaming through The Stars Group will provide compelling opportunities for our customers, particularly our younger customers, who are ready to experience the next gaming challenge.”
El Dorado Deal Puts 11 More States on Horizon
Two days before the PGCB granted its assent, The Stars Group forged another iGaming partnership with Reno-based casino operator Eldorado Resorts Inc.
Under the agreement, The Stars Group’s full suite of iGaming platforms can be made available in 11 states where Eldorado Resorts maintains properties:
- West Virginia
Currently, none of the 11 states have moved to legalize online poker, but sports betting is now being offered in Mississippi and West Virginia following May’s repeal of the federal ban.
As such, the BetStars sportsbook should be integrated within Eldorado properties – which include the Isle of Capri and Lady Luck casino chains – in both states at some point in the near future.