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Jonathan ZaunFebruary 15, 2019
February 15, 2019

WSOP 2019: Online Events Await Wire Act Clarity

The World Series of Poker recently released the schedule for its upcoming 50th edition, but for the time being online events aren’t included among the 80 gold bracelet tournaments for the WSOP 2019.

Nonetheless, in a press release announcing the final scheduling details, the document’s title included the following caveat – “Final Pod of Live Events for 2019 – which appeared to leave the window open for online events to be added before the series’ May 28 start date.

Series organizers are likely waiting for the dust to settle after the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) issued a new opinion on the Wire Act of 1961, which now bans interstate online poker on the federal level as of January 14.

And indeed, in an interview with PokerFuse, Seth Palansky – vice president of corporate communications for Caesars Interactive Entertainment and the WSOP – confirmed that the addition of online events was imminent:

“I think we’ll have some good news soon for players looking to play online bracelet events this summer at the World Series of Poker.

There will be an increased number of online events over last year.”

History of Online Bracelet Events at the WSOP Brief but Successful

WSOP.com hosted the first online bracelet event in 2015, with any player physically located in the state of Nevada eligible to compete. The debut of online play at the WSOP – a $1,000 No Limit Hold’em tournament – attracted 905 entries. The same event grew to 1,247 entries by 2016, and the online slate grew to three tournaments at various price points one year later.

Last year, the WSOP once again expanded its online offerings by adding a Pot Limit Omaha tournament to complement a trio of No Limit Hold’em events:

Event #10: $365 No Limit Hold’em

Event #47: $565 Pot Limit Omaha Six-Handed

Event #61: $1,000 No Limit Hold’em Championship

Event #63: $3,200 No Limit Hold’em High-Roller

One reason 2018 became a banner year for online bracelet events was the advent of the All-American Poker Network (AAPN), which links cash game players on WSOP.com in Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware via 888 Poker software.

The AAPN launched on May 1 of last year, and by June, a player located in New Jersey bagged the first WSOP gold bracelet ever awarded in the Garden State.

Despite that achievement seemingly ushering in a new age of interstate online bracelet competition, the DOJ’s revised stance on the Wire Act has forced the WSOP 2019 into a holding pattern.

Palansky Promises Expanded Slate of Online WSOP 2019 Events

Based on Palansky’s prediction cited above, poker’s premier tournament series is slated to award at least five gold bracelets via WSOP.com this summer.

But based on the DOJ’s pledge to begin prosecution of any operator providing interstate online gambling by May 14, the WSOP 2019 will likely take a cue from Pennsylvania by limiting the proceedings on an intrastate basis.

The Keystone State is currently gearing up for the launch of legal online poker, casino, and sports betting, courtesy of a broad gambling expansion law enacted in late 2017. In a letter sent to iGaming providers, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) advised companies to take all available measures to comply with DOJ policy by limiting their operations to Pennsylvania only.

Following that lead would require WSOP.com to revert back to its previous “ring-fenced” system, which relies on geolocation technology to prohibit access from any player located outside of Nevada.

From its inception in September of 2013 to the beginning of player sharing with Delaware in March of 2015, WSOP.com operated exclusively in the Silver State.

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