Pennsylvania Casino Regulator Says Online Poker May Launch By End Of Year

The first Pennsylvania licensed and regulated real-money online poker websites may be live by the end of the calendar year.

That’s according to comments from Kevin O’Toole, executive director of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. CBS Philly reported that O’Toole told lawmakers at budget hearings that regulators are crafting temporary rules for the online casino industry. It was known early last month that the Board was looking to begin accepting applications from interested companies in April.

The applications are for manufacturers and suppliers that will team with existing Pennsylvania brick-and-mortar casino operators for internet versions of games, which will include much more than just poker. All of the state’s casinos, which collectively generate a $3 billion per year gambling market, are eligible to offer games over the web. It has been estimated that the online casinos could add about 10 percent to the state’s existing betting market.

The first round of the application process will be over by mid-July, O’Toole said.

Online poker could provide a boost to the state’s roughly $60 million annual live poker market. Pennsylvania has around 230 poker tables spread between 10 poker rooms.

Whenever the Keystone State online card rooms open, the state will be just the fourth in the country with regulated internet casino gambling. Neighboring New Jersey was one of the first. After a lengthy period of debate, New Jersey finally pulled the trigger on internet casinos in February 2013. The first real-money online casinos had launched by the end of November that same year.

Pennsylvania approved online poker in October, which means that the process of getting them up and running is likely going to take a little bit longer than New Jersey.

Nevada and Delaware, the other two states with regulated online poker, already share their player pools. New Jersey and Nevada inked a deal last year to share players. Pennsylvania could also eventually join the equation, which would expose about 26 million people to online poker between those four states. Poker thrives on liquidity.

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