PokerStars given approval for license in Pennsylvania

PokerStars’ slow relaunch into the United States market received another boost last week after it was approved for a license in the state of Pennsylvania.

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board approved the poker giant’s online gambling license. Mohegan Sun Pocono also received approval for online slots and table games in an online casino. Mohegan Sun originally had applied for a poker license as well but abandoned its poker plans to focus strictly on its casino games and product.

To get a license in Pennsylvania, a poker operator like PokerStars had to partner with a bricks-and-mortar casino in the state. PokerStars’ partner is Mount Airy Casino. The deal between PokerStars and Mount Airy was announced in August and this step ensures their partnership into online poker can go ahead.

When it will go ahead remains unknown. Legislation legalizing online poker and gambling was finally passed in Pennsylvania last year. However, since legislation, the process to get the online games and poker tables up and running has been a slow crawl.

With the addition of PokerStars and Mount Airy, seven of Pennsylvania’s 13 casinos have now been approved to provide online poker in the state. Neither the state nor the seven casinos and their partners have announced any dates for the launch of online poker and casino games. The latest estimate from the poker industry would be sometime in the late winter or early spring. These estimates should be taken with a grain of salt, as originally after the first approvals were granted earlier this year, it was estimated the first online poker and gaming sites would launch by the fall.

PokerStars Pennsylvania joins PokerStars New Jersey

With PokerStars Pennsylvania given the go-ahead by state regulators, it will join New Jersey as the second state PokerStars has returned to since being shut out of America years ago. This opens up a huge potential player pool for PokerStars with Pennsylvania’s 12.8 million people, more than the nine million in New Jersey.

Currently PokerStars does not operate in Nevada or Delaware. Because of PokerStars’ operations in the U.S. before and after the Black Friday shutdown, its return has been a contentious topic in other states looking at legalizing online poker, especially California. Many decision-makers in California oppose granting licenses to PokerStars and a number of other online poker brands, which could keep California out of the online poker business for years to come.