Challenges of PA Online Poker Grapples with Interstate Dynamics

caleb tallman
Caleb Tallman


  • Pennsylvania online poker faces revenue decline.
  • Interstate compacts prove pivotal for growth.
  • Fanatics' West Virginia debut offers insights for potential Pennsylvania strategies.

The recently published Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) report has cast a shadow over the state's online poker landscape, revealing a concerning 5.8% dip in revenue. This downturn underlines the crucial role of interstate compacts in navigating the complex online poker market.

Unpacking the Recent Decline

October witnessed a successive decrease in online poker revenue in Pennsylvania, marking a stark contrast to the state's once-dominant position in the US online poker market. The loss of the top spot to Michigan in September, claiming a 29% market share, has further intensified the need for strategic collaborations.

The Prowess of Interstate Compacts

The Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement (MSIGA) has proven to be a game-changer, uniting Delaware, Michigan, Nevada, and New Jersey in a shared-liquidity arrangement. The recent addition of West Virginia as the fifth state in the MSIGA reinforces the positive momentum generated by these interstate collaborations.

Lessons from West Virginia
While West Virginia's entry into MSIGA may not create an immediate impact due to its smaller market size, it serves as a valuable model for other states. The decision to embrace shared player pools from the outset provides a blueprint for states considering similar collaborations.

Examining Pennsylvania's Isolation

Unlike its MSIGA counterparts, Pennsylvania's online poker ecosystem remains confined within state lines. The state's stance, as communicated by PGCB Director of Communications, Doug Harbach, indicates a lack of urgency to explore interstate compacts. The need for the governor's approval adds an additional layer of complexity to the situation.

With no substantive updates on the multi-state compact front, Pennsylvania remains an outlier as neighboring states forge ahead with shared liquidity agreements. Harbach's statement reveals that while operators express interest in expansion, administrative hesitancy remains a significant hurdle.

A Plea for Interstate Integration
As other MSIGA states continue to witness revenue growth, Pennsylvania risks falling behind in the evolving online poker landscape. The state's citizens and industry stakeholders must seize the opportunity to voice their support for interstate collaborations.

The significance of public sentiment cannot be overstated. By reaching out to local representatives, Pennsylvanians can convey their aspirations for a more expansive online poker environment. Advocacy, supported by factual insights, may play a pivotal role in influencing the state's approach.

The Interstate Advantage: A Closer Look

The success stories of MSIGA states paint a clear picture of the advantages brought about by shared liquidity. Pennsylvania's inability to capitalize on this dynamic becomes more pronounced when contrasted with the revenue milestones achieved by its counterparts.

Pennsylvania vs. Michigan and New Jersey
Michigan's ascent to the top of the US online poker market in September reflected a 29% market share, surpassing Pennsylvania's 28.89%. Although Pennsylvania retained its second position, New Jersey outperformed it on a "per-adult" basis for the month.

The comparative analysis exposes Pennsylvania's vulnerability to losing ground in the absence of interstate collaborations. As Michigan and New Jersey leverage merged player pools on platforms like PokerStars, the competitive edge of shared liquidity becomes evident.

The October Conundrum
The October revenue report further compounded Pennsylvania's challenges. While the online casino and sports betting sectors flourished, online poker faced a considerable setback. A revenue total of $2,345,987 marked the lowest figure since February 2020, signaling a distressing trend for the state's online poker landscape.

Fanatics' Foray: A Glimpse into the Future

While Pennsylvania grapples with the complexities of interstate collaborations, the entry of Fanatics into the online casino arena provides an intriguing subplot. Though yet to launch in Pennsylvania, Fanatics debuted its online casino platform in West Virginia, offering insights into potential strategies for the Keystone State.

Fanatics' Multi-State Presence
Fanatics, valued at approximately $31 billion, has already established its footprint in various states, including Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Ohio, and Tennessee. Acquiring and operating PointsBet Sportsbook in Pennsylvania earlier this year positions Fanatics as a notable player in the industry.

As Fanatics navigates the West Virginia market, transitioning from PointsBet to Fanatics Casino, the Keystone State can glean valuable lessons. The seamless migration process, maintaining user credentials, balances, and rewards points, sets a precedent for a potential Pennsylvania launch.

A Pennsylvania Perspective
While Fanatics' endeavors in West Virginia are not a direct parallel to the challenges faced by Pennsylvania's online poker, the experience offers valuable insights. The operator's eventual foray into Pennsylvania's market could leverage the lessons learned in West Virginia.

As Fanatics ventures into the online casino space, the integration of sportsbook and casino functionalities within a single app underscores the evolving dynamics of the gaming industry. Pennsylvania, with its expansive sports betting and online casino market, stands to benefit from such integrated approaches.

The Road Ahead: Navigating Challenges, Seizing Opportunities

Pennsylvania's online poker landscape finds itself at a critical juncture. The challenges posed by declining revenue and the absence of interstate compacts necessitate a strategic reassessment. The success stories of states within MSIGA offer a blueprint for potential collaborations.

A huge sports fan; locally, many know me as the guy who does the PA for our high school football team on Friday nights. Having grown up in Michigan, I am a sports fan of all the Detroit teams, and at the college level, I love Michigan State sports. I have covered sports betting, iGaming and casino industry news for many well known websites.