Caesars Entertainment launched a new online / mobile casino in Pennsylvania last week, leading to speculation WSOP.com PA could be the poker platform & casino giant’s next local product.
The Caesars Casino & Sportsbook PA went live on April 23, under an iGaming license held by the Caesars-owned Harrah’s Philadelphia—Just four days later, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) confirmed that would be on the way pending final approval.
Gaming Watchdog Says WSOP.com PA Just One Approval Away
In an interview with PokerFuse, PGCB communications director Doug Harbach said WSOP.com only needs software provider 888 Holdings to have its iGaming Manufacturer application approved to clear the way for a launch date:
“888 is currently in background with our investigative unit. I do not know the timetable on when that applicant will be ripe for approval by the board, but that must occur before WSOP can be launched on the Caesars site.”
Harbach also revealed that WSOP.com – the online wing of the Caesars-owned World Series of Poker (WSOP) – has already satisfied its other licensing application requirements as part of Harrah’s Philadelphia recent online / mobile launches.
Caesars Entertainment partners with 888 Holdings to provide the software and backend technology used on its WSOP.com sites currently operating in New Jersey and Nevada. Delaware is also home to an 888 Poker platform that connects with WSOP.com in those two states thanks to a player pool sharing compact forged in 2018.
Given those previous approvals by gaming regulators in other states, Harbach expressed confidence that WSOP.com PA would be up and running “when the 888 platform is ready to go.”
The 51st edition of the WSOP proper in Las Vegas was recently postponed indefinitely due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, prompting WSOP.com to significantly ramp up its online / mobile tournament offerings of late.
The site’s expanded schedule included the World Series of Poker Super Circuit event in Nevada and New Jersey, which ran between March 14-31 and generated more than $3.9 million in prize pools across 18 tournaments – easily beating the advertised guarantee of $1.2 million.
888 Execs Bullish on Pennsylvania Poker Market
As of now, PokerStars PA is the only online / mobile option for poker players in Pennsylvania.
Throughout the month of April, the site hosted its inaugural Pokerstars Pennsylvania Spring Championship of Online Poker (PASCOOP) – a series spanning 96 tournaments with $2 million in guaranteed prize pools over 17 days of play.
When the first edition of PASCOOP wrapped up recently, demand intensified by the Keystone State’s coronavirus prompted casino closures led players to generate $3.1 million in total prize pools.
Numbers like that show the economic potential 888 Holdings eyed when initially assessing Pennsylvania’s regulated iGaming market.
In a conference call to discuss 2019 earnings held with investors last year, Itai Pazner – who serves as chief executive officer and director for 888 Holdings – alluded to the company’s plans for WSOP.com PA:
“[W]e’re looking to launch into Pennsylvania, WSOP Poker. I can share that.
Like poker everywhere else in the world in the markets that are regulated and available currently in the US, they’re also benefiting from the situation, and more and more people are returning to poker.”
Last year also saw 888 Holdings’ head of commercial development Yaniv Sherman tell PokerFuse that Pennsylvania was comparable to America’s iGaming hub in the Garden State in terms of potential revenue:
“It’s definitely a potential big online market, being only one of a handful of states to offer both sports betting and iGaming.
It should definitely be looked upon in conjunction with the New Jersey market, as like New York, there is quite a lot of population commuting, especially in south Jersey.”