Pennsylvania Online Poker Players Could Join Multi-State Tournaments ‘Before the End of the Year’

Pennsylvania online poker players could easily play games and enter tournaments with poker app gamblers in other legal states “before the end of the year” if HB2078 becomes law. So said state Rep. George Dunbar in an email interview with Bonus on June 6.

The measure authorizes the state’s gaming regulator to add Pennsylvania to the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement (MSIGA).

MSIGA’s current member states are Delaware, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, and West Virginia. The agreement allows apps to share game and tournament traffic across state lines. Online gambling operators then make business decisions about whether to offer the option.

Dunbar, who introduced HB2078 on March 5, told Bonus:

I truly have no idea when or if my bill will move. I have made sure that both the majority leader and majority chair of Gaming Oversight are aware of it. It is not something that I, as a member of the minority party, have much sway over. I am hopeful that they can see the need and move forward with the legislation.

As Dunbar mentioned, the Republican from Jeannette is in the minority in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. He is the Pennsylvania House Republican Caucus chairman, helping lead 101 of the state’s 203 representatives.

HB2078 entered the 23-member House Gaming Oversight Committee on March 5. As of June 7, no meetings or public hearings are scheduled for the 13 Democrats and 10 Republicans to attend.

Meanwhile, legislators still have plenty of time to consider the Pennsylvania online poker bill. Unlike many states where legislatures have already adjourned, the Pennsylvania General Assembly will remain in session until Nov. 30.

Dunbar told Bonus:

If the bill moves during the budget process and the governor signs off on joining the multi-state compact, PA poker players can be playing against players from other states relatively fast. I’m sure before the end of the year.

Theoretically, lawmakers must send an approved budget to Gov. Josh Shapiro by the end of June. Fox43 notes that last year’s budget was nearly six months late.

How MSIGA Fits Pennsylvania

PokerStars debuted as the first Pennsylvania online poker operator on Nov. 4, 2019. Later, BetMGM Poker, Borgata Poker, and joined the marketplace.

On Valentine’s Day, Dunbar sent a memo about MSIGA to House members:

This action, also known as ‘shared liquidity,’ is critical to a healthy online poker system. Much like what we have seen with multistate lottery contests, joining MSIGA will mean more players in the overall player pool. This makes for bigger tournaments allowing operators to offer bigger guarantees.

Since its inception, Pennsylvania has been the leader nationally in online poker revenue. Recently New Jersey, using the benefits of MSIGA, has surpassed us.

Join with me in co-sponsoring this legislation so that we may provide our poker players with a healthier system, more choices, and return Pennsylvania to the top of the list in online poker revenue.

Since Dunbar authored that memo, there’s been a bit of movement in the online poker space. Most recently, Caesars Entertainment-owned began offering multi-state player pools to Michiganders. On May 24, Michigan online poker players could wager with Nevada and New Jersey gamblers.

That pool appears more significant than what PokerStars created when it added Michigan to its New Jersey poker rooms on Jan. 1, 2023.

Meanwhile, Delaware and West Virginia have no online poker operators; hence, no player pools.

Returning to Dunbar’s comment about revenue, Pennsylvania is No. 1 in the US.

In April 2024, Pennsylvania online casinos generated $212 million in gross gaming revenue (GGR). That same month, Pennsylvania online poker rooms brought in $2.4 million in GGR, according to Play USA.

Michigan’s online casinos and poker apps accounted for $192 million in revenue, with New Jersey coming in at No. 3 and $188 million in GGR.

Dunbar told Bonus on June 6:

I do not view this legislation as a large expansion of gaming. This will just provide PA poker players the opportunity to compete with players from other states, potentially resulting in large tournament payouts.

Most iGaming revenue comes from Pennsylvanians playing online slots.

Bonus and Play USA are Catena Media publications.

About the Author

Heather Fletcher

Heather Fletcher

Heather Fletcher is Lead Writer at Bonus, concentrating on online casino coverage. She specializes in breaking news, legislative coverage, and gambling marketing strategy overviews. To reach Heather with a news tip, email [email protected].
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