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Aneeca Younas
Aneeca Younas Reviewer
Publication date: 2021-09-30 Last updated: 2021-09-30

The legality of online poker in PA

Many poker fans keep asking the same question. Is online poker legal in Pennsylvania? The answer is yes. However, the road on the way to legalization was filled with years of negotiations and discussions. In other words, it was everything but easy. 

The Pennsylvania state senate passed a gambling expansion bill, HB 271, on October 26, 2017. A few days later, on October 30, 2017, the PA governor Tom Wolf signed the bill, which became the law.

The bill's signing was marked as a huge victory for all the gambling advocates that have been working for years under pressure and frustration. The entire process of passing the bill was not simple as it included discussions between the Senate and the Pennsylvania House. The Senate started debating the bill in the afternoon of October 25, and it passed the bill 109-72 the next day, October 26.

The bill went through many revisions before the Senate passed it. The fact that HB 271 has over 900 pages shows how complex it is. It legalizes PA online poker and slots, table games, online lottery, daily fantasy sports, VGTs at truck stops, the construction of satellite casinos, and sports betting.

The moment the state’s governor signed the bill, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board started accepting license applications from various online gaming providers and sites. The licenses for Internet gaming can be owned by existing casino license holders.

In the first 90 days when the licensing period started, initial applicants could apply for a collective online gaming license for $10 million. The collective license covered online poker, slots, and table games. Online casinos in PA that wish to run poker rooms must always team up with a brick-and-mortar property in the Keystone State. When sold separately, which is the option that started after 90 days, the permits for the categories cost $4 million each. In other words, those who didn’t apply for the license in the first 90 days lost the chance to get a significant $2 million discount. Every license is valid for a period of 5 years.

When it comes to gross gaming revenue from online poker and table games, it is set to be taxed at 14 %. There is an additional local tax of 2%. The tax on online slots is set at 54 %, which is much higher when compared with online poker and table games. The tax rate for the slots mirrors the one in land-based casino establishments. Even though many providers lobby for the tax reduction, such a thing may not happen any time soon.

Best poker sites in PA

Even though many expected the online poker PA market to be in full operation within a year after legalization, the process took a lot more time. The delay was caused due to The Wire Act interpretation complexity. In mid-2019, PGCB notified online gambling license holders they would have to comply with the US Department of Justice's new interpretation of the Wire Act.

Pennsylvanian regulations previously allowed the providers to host their equipment and servers anywhere in the United States as long as the location met the authorities' criteria. The DOJ interpretation of the Wire Act pointed out that it would oppose US federal law. The operators had to change the course, which caused delays in kickstarting the online poker market.

At the moment, there are four active Pennsylvania online poker sites.

PokerStars – it was the first site for online poker in PA that was launched in November 2019. PokerStars is the biggest provider globally that holds the position of being the most popular website among online poker fans. It is owned by the Stars Group. PokerStars was founded in Costa Rica in 2001, and a few years later, it became the first poker room established in the state of Pennsylvania. It operates in partnership with a land-based Mount Airy casino.

BetMGM poker – The second site that became part of the poker Pennsylvania online scene is BetMGM where it was launched in April 2021. The company started its journey in New Jersey in 2009, but it managed to build an excellent reputation pretty fast. It is owned by MGM Resorts International. Many poker fans agree the site offers all the essentials and the most important thing is that it operates legally. The land-based partner of BetMGM poker is Hollywood Casino.

Borgata Poker – The website joined licensed PA online poker sites the same month the BetMGM did in April 2021. Borgata Poker has been in the industry for almost two decades. It was established in 2003 as a brick-and-mortar resort. Ten years later, it started to offer online poker services in New Jersey in partnership with Bwin. Same as BetMGM poker, Borgata Poker is owned by MGM Resorts International. Its land-based partner is Rivers Philadelphia.

WSOP.com – The fourth poker online PA site that operates with the license is WSOP.com. Its services became available for all the poker enthusiasts in Pennsylvania in July 2021. It sparked competition among the sites as players have another option that may turn into their first choice. The WSOP.com land-based partner is Harrah’s Philadelphia casino. Wsop.com is owned by Caesars Interactive Entertainment, Inc.

Methodology of reviewing online poker casinos in PA

In order to provide clear, on-point, and valuable information to our readers, we are focusing on our methodology of reviewing online poker sites in PA. Our team takes several points into account when evaluating online establishments.

Security and trust: We always start with examining whether the casino has the required licenses to operate legally. The next thing we take time to determine is if the provider pays attention to fair gaming practices. Legit casinos are using RNG (random number generator) to ensure results are fair and random. In addition, the place must provide support for various payment methods and must have reasonable payout times.

Bonuses: Checking out the bonus offer is the next thing we focus on. We estimate if the offer the casino gives is reasonable.

Terms and conditions - We also check the fairness of terms and conditions the bonuses come with.

VIP & Loyalty Rewards - These are taken into account as well, as they can deliver additional perks to the customers.

Banking: The best sites for poker in PA must support various banking options, including credit and debit cards, e-wallets, prepaid cards, and bank transfers. With our methodology, we check the casino's payment options, and we inform the reader about:

  • Processing speed
  • Deposits
  • Withdrawals

Game Variety (Types of Poker): The next thing we explore is the selection of poker types the site offers. The more options the provider has, the better.

Software: Every player deserves to have a fantastic gambling experience. That is possible only if the casino features top-notch software providers. Additionally, it’s essential to consider if the casino is accessible on various devices or a desktop only. If it is accessible on mobiles and tablets, we must determine whether it delivers a satisfying experience or the users can experience glitches and issues. We check the following:

  • Desktop in-browser experience
  • Mobile browser experience
  • App experience

Support: Last but not least, there’s customer support. Players want to be sure they can get in touch with the agents if they need assistance. We consider how the customer service can be contacted (phone, email, live chat, social networks) and will the premium users get support faster than others.

In order to create a review or list and name one of the casinos as a top-choice, all these points must be carefully considered. We compile all the information we gather into one comprehensive piece that delivers everything they need to know.

PA Poker Apps

PokerStars

For the poker players, PokerStars is, for a reason, one of the top choices. It delivers a smooth and seamless experience on its desktop client and the apps. The provider has two apps, one for Android devices and the second one for iOS (iPhones and iPads). PokerStars’ mobile app is now available for both iOS and Android devices through the Google Play and Apple Pay Store. The app provides you with access to daily and weekend tournaments, satellite events, and the full functionality of the website.

The PA poker players were delighted when the operator finally opened its virtual doors in November 2019. Those who are not registered can join the site with a great bonus offer for its new members. When you place the first deposit, the operator will mirror the amount you added of up to $600, a great kickstart. Alternatively, you can play one hand, and the casino will reward you with $50 in free play.

Those who became regulars can explore the perks of the loyalty program. With PokerStar Rewards, you can earn points whenever you play online poker in PA for real money. When you collect enough points, you will get a Chest filled with rewards such as free bets, free play, and star coins that you can use in the reward store.

The operator offers a great selection of PA poker tournaments, sit and goes, and cash games. You can explore all of the options and then figure out which ones match your preferences.

Borgata

Borgata Poker joined legal online poker real money Pennsylvania websites in April 2021, and it brought a dash of fresh air for the players who were impatiently waiting for another operator. Users can play poker on various platforms, as the provider offers an in-browser experience, but there is also a desktop app that can be downloaded directly from the site. Those who love playing poker on the go can do that by getting the Borgata app for Android or iOS. The app allows you to stay in touch with cash games, Sit & Go’s, Borgata Poker’s latest promotions, and cashout options. Players can withdraw money and deposit right from their apps. 

The casino has a generous welcome offer. After signing up, new users will get a free $25 poker bonus on the house. The part of the package is the 100 % match deposit bonus of up to $600. Borgata has regular Promotions, and the current one gives the players the chance to receive a $100 bonus by depositing $50 or more. There’s a loyalty program called MLife Rewards. Users earn tier credits and points with every bet, but moving up the tier level is hard for those who wager small.

There are cash poker games and game variations such as Fixed Limit Texas Hold’em and Pot-Limit Omaha. Tournaments are available as well.

BetMGM

Another legal online poker Pennsylvania option is BetMGM. There is an Android and iOS app, which allows you to access the website instead of downloading a separate client. The app is a preferred and flexible gaming option that can be used anywhere in the Keystone State to play online poker at BetMGM. Like other providers, this one also ensures the new players enjoy the welcome bonus offer they deserve. Upon signing in, players will collect a $25 no deposit bonus. There is also a 100 % match deposit bonus of up to $600. The minimum deposit amount is set at $10.

BetMGM has the same loyalty program as Borgata. Users earn tier credits and level up. But gathering enough points to move to the next level is practically impossible for those who wager small. On the other hand, those who bet big will move up the ladder and eventually enjoy many perks the tier credits bring.

The provider offers cash games, multi-table tournaments, and sit-and-go tournaments. Those who would love to explore a new place and play online poker in PA won’t be disappointed with everything BetMGM has in store. The experience is beyond incredible on every platform, including the app, which runs on powerful HTML5 software that makes it compatible with any device make. It has all the features that are available on the site. With that said, players can count on an enjoyable on-the-go poker experience. 

PartyPoker

PartyPoker is one of the PA poker sites with a pretty exciting offer for all the game fans. Just by signing up, the new players will receive $25. The $15 comes in tournament tokens, and the other $10 can be used for any game type. The bonus is great as it allows new customers to explore the site and see how it works.

If you try it out and are satisfied, you may fund your account and continue playing. By doing that, you can count on a 100 % match deposit bonus for up to $1000. The offer is quite generous as you get $25 for joining PartyPoker and then a first deposit bonus as well. Additionally, the operator has a rewards program. Payers earn points when playing for real money, and they move up from bronze to palladium level. The higher the level, the better the rewards.

There are apps for Android and iOS, and ones for Mac and Windows. All of them are designed to deliver a top-notch gambling experience. You can enjoy cash games and spice up the adventure with Sit & Go’s and tournaments. If you prefer fast-paced poker, try the “Fast Forward” option. When players fold a hand, they’re instantly moved to play a new one.

WSOP Poker

WSOP is the last provider who joined the online poker real money Pennsylvania sites that operate legally. It created an offer that is pretty eye-catching and worth your attention. As a new player, you will get a $10 no deposit bonus. It is your chance to play poker without risking a cent of your own money.

If you like how things work and the choice of games, tournaments, and the whole package the WSOP offers, you can continue playing by making a deposit. The first deposit you add brings a generous 100 % match bonus of up to $1000.

The WSOP has a loyalty program with several levels. As you gather points that you earn by playing poker for real money, you can level up and convert the points into cash. Same as other providers, this one has cash games, Sit & Go’s tournaments, and multi-table tournaments. There is an app for Android and iOS and one for desktop as well. Through WSOP qualifiers and the powerful app, you will always have access to great liquidity, tournaments, and much more whether you play from Android or iOS. 

Online poker for free vs. real money

Playing Pennsylvania online poker doesn’t necessarily involve risking your own money. The providers come up with the option that allows you to explore the site and the app, try out the games and tournaments, and then decide whether you want to add a deposit or not.

The way to play poker for free is quite simple. You need to pick one of the Pennsylvania online poker sites that offer no deposit bonus. You can claim the prize as soon as you sign up. As the bonus name suggests, you don’t have to make any deposit and spend your own money. You will receive a certain amount from the provider, and you can spend it on the poker game of your choice.

When you claim the bonus, you can play poker for free without spending a dollar of your money. In other words, it is an entirely risk-free experience that allows you to explore the games and app in general. The option of a no deposit bonus will enable you to try the platform and decide whether you will continue playing. The decision will be based on your personal experience as you will play for free. If you like the software and the games, you can become a regular player and move to PA online poker real money experience.

Online poker PA bonuses

There are not many legal real money online poker Pennsylvania sites, at least not for now. All these sites give their best to attract customers and increase the number of visitors. One of the ways to achieve that is by offering the bonuses new players may find interesting enough to sign in and start playing.

The providers are offering several types of bonuses.

  • No deposit bonus – A no deposit bonus allows the customers to play poker without risking their own money. A sign-in to the operator’s website is all that’s required. On some sites, you may get a certain amount of money to play with, for example, $20. On others, you can get buy-ins to tournaments. Whatever it is, the point is the same – you will play real money poker for free.
  • Match deposit bonus – Another popular type of bonus is a match deposit bonus. Most sites will reward you when you add your first deposit. The sum you’ll get will mirror the amount you deposit. For example, a provider may offer a 100 % match deposit bonus of up to $1000.
  • Freeroll tournaments – Some providers may give new players a chance to compete in tournaments that bring real-money prizes, and the best part is that a player doesn’t have to buy a ticket.
  • Reload bonuses – The providers may occasionally offer so-called reload bonuses, usually in times when your account needs a refill. However, these bonuses are not as generous as the ones new players get, but they are certainly a great option that will allow you to play longer. It’s a great chance to gain some extra gambling money.
  • Loyalty programs and the rewards – The providers have loyalty programs that usually feature several levels. Players level up by playing PA poker for real money and gaining points. Now, the rewards are different. Some operators give players the chance to convert the points into cash bonuses, such as WSOP Poker. Others may offer something else. Others may have something else. That’s the case with PokerStars. With enough points, you’ll get a Chest filled with rewards to match your gambling preferences.

A generous bonus can turn an average into the best online poker PA experience. Fortunately, the providers in the state are pretty giving, and they make sure the offer they have is exciting and interesting enough. All of the current sites are offering a mixture of bonuses. It means they include a no deposit bonus that allows the players to explore the platform. If they decide to add the funds, they will usually get a match deposit bonus. The sites include loyalty programs that can bring more rewards to the table.

The loyalty programs allow you to accumulate special Comp Points while playing poker and then spend them at retail casinos and hotels around the Keystone State. Additionally, you can benefit from merchandise, free tickets to important events, and even a cashback program all through tiered loyalty programs.

Online poker PA deposits and withdrawals

The poker Pennsylvania online providers support various deposit and withdrawal methods, and the players can choose whatever suits them best.

Making deposits and requesting payouts is pretty simple, and the process is basically the same on all websites. To add a deposit:

  • Log in to your account
  • Go to the Cashier page
  • If you want to add the funds to your account, click Deposit
  • Enter the amount you wish to Deposit
  • Confirm the action by clicking on Deposit

When you hit a win and you are ready to request a withdrawal, follow a few simple steps:

  • Make sure you’re logged in to your account
  • Go to the Cashier Page
  • To request a payout, click on Withdrawal
  • Enter the amount you want to withdraw from your account
  • Confirm the action by clicking on Withdrawal.

Most sites support the following deposit methods:

  • Credit and debit cards (Visa and MasterCard)
  • Neteller
  • Skrill
  • PayPal
  • PayNearMe
  • eChecks
  • Checks
  • Prepaid Play+ Card
  • Bank Wire
  • Casino cage

Deposits are instant. In other words, the amount you’ve entered will show up on your account within minutes. When it comes to the minimum deposit amount, it is $10 on most websites.

Withdrawals take some time, which means you’ll have to wait for a while. It all varies and depends on the payout method you have selected. The table below shows the usual payout processing speed.

Withdrawal method Processing time

Credit and debit cards

2-4 working days

PayPal

24-48 h

Neteller

24-48 h

Skrill

24-48 h

Bank Wire

3-7 working days

Play+

24-48 h

Casino cage

Instant

eChecks

72 hours

Checks

Up to 14 business days

In most poker rooms in Pennsylvania, the minimum withdrawal amount is $10. The amount may vary and depend on the selected payout method.

References

FAQ

How old is it legal to play online poker in Pennsylvania?

To be able to play online poker in Pennsylvania, a player has to be 21 or older. House Bill 271 regulates this section. Upon creating the account, the player will have to provide the date of birth and last four digits of the social security number. The poker rooms require this information so they can verify the age and identity of the player.

Another important requirement is the physical presence in the state of Pennsylvania when playing. The player can be a resident of another state. However, to play online poker on PA sites, a player must be physically present in Pennsylvania.

Is playing online poker in Pennsylvania legal?

Many poker fans are wondering is online poker legal in PA. The answer is yes. Online poker has been legalized with the 2017 legislation. The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board regulates it. Pennsylvania became the fourth state to do so, after Nevada, Delaware, and New Jersey.

Playing poker online comes with some requirements. The player must be 21 or older and physically present in the state when playing poker online. Being a PA resident is not required.

PA online poker launch date was delayed due to The Wire Act interpretation complexity. In November 2019, PokerStars was the first provider in PA that opened its virtual doors for all poker fans.

Can I play online poker against players from foreign countries or other regulated states?

No, you can’t play online poker against players from foreign countries or other regulated states, at least not for now. According to House Bill 271 that regulates online poker, you can play only against those inside the Pennsylvania state lines. The requirements for all the players in PA are the same. Even though you don’t have to be a state resident, you must be within the state borders when playing online poker on one of the sites for online poker legal in PA.

Can I access the games from outside of PA?

No. You won’t be able to access the games from outside of Pennsylvania. House Bill 271 regulates online poker and prohibits strict location requirements. When playing online poker real money Pennsylvania, the operators use geolocation technology to confirm that you are within the state lines. Those who try using VPN and are caught are taking a huge risk – the operator may ban the account and confiscate all the funds associated with that account.

What forms of online poker are available?

There are numerous poker variants to play in Pennsylvania. You can enjoy Texas Hold’em as the main competitive title, Omaha Hi-Lo, 7 Stud Poker, Three Card Poker as well as cash games, Sit & Go’s, satellite tournaments, and WSOP qualifiers right in the Keystone State. There is also fast-fold poker, No-Limit Hold’em, Omaha, PLO and PLO8, Stud and Draw Poker.

Are PA online poker games fair?

Yes, online Pennsylvania poker games are fair. All the providers have their RNG (random number generator) software. The software is used to determine the sequence of cards. The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board controls all online poker in PA sites with strict regulations that guarantee the fairness of games.

How the RNG works?

RNG stands for random number generators. It can be a device or an algorithm that comes up with numbers selected by random chance. When it comes to gaming, online poker included, random number generator refers to a technology designed to get a sequence without following any pattern. It will generate the symbols or numbers by chance, and what will come up next can’t be predicted.

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