Online poker operator 888 Holdings has been granted an interactive gaming manufacturer license in Pennsylvania, a move that may soon introduce a second poker operator, besides PokerStars, almost a year after the online poker market went live in the state. As expected, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) voted in favor of the license application from the Gibraltar-based online poker and poker software provider.
888 Operates B2C and B2B
The decision to grant an Interactive Gaming Manufacturer license unlocks certain options for the company, as it is running both its B2C poker website and app and operates as a B2B supplier of poker software to other brands, among which WSOP.com. Following the license approval, WSOP PA can soon launch its online poker operations, in partnership with Caesars Entertainment, under the license of Harrah’s Philadelphia.
Caesars and 888 Holdings work hand in hand since 2011, when regulators in Nevada approved their relationship. Caesars’ online product offering is currently lacking only poker, but obviously not for long, as WSOP, powered by 888, would soon complete the trio of the casino giant’s iGaming verticals.
The license for 888 for the Pennsylvania poker market opens up cross-state opportunities as well, since WSOP currently has pacts to share player liquidity between its New Jersey, Delaware and Nevada customers, and this pool will add 888’s players from New Jersey and Delaware. The Gibraltar-based software supplier definitely has the technology and the logistics capabilities to provide the interstate links.
Pennsylvania’s Online Poker Situation
Online poker in Pennsylvania took a while before going live, as the state considered various bills and discussions for years, until finally getting a bill to pass in October 2017, signed into law by the end of the month by Governor Tom Wolf. The Keystone State became the fourth to introduce online poker games and gaming providers scrambled for partnership deals with land-based casinos.
Besides the market entry for sports betting, online slots and table games, seven casinos paid for licenses for online poker, Parx, Harrah’s Philadelphia, Mount Airy, Hollywood, SugarHouse, Valley Forge and Sands Bethlehem. Despite the deals, nothing materialized and no poker operator went live.
In November 2019, one of the casinos which paid for poker license, Mount Airy, in partnership with PokerStars launched the first online poker operation in the state. And PokerStars began reporting millions in monthly revenues, prompting many to consider competition was on its way. But PokerStars remains the sole online poker provider in Pennsylvania up to date.
Now, after the 888’s license was approved, both WSOP and 888 should work with the PGCB to schedule a soft launch for their software and mobile app, before a full-scale operation goes live in the state.