Real-money online poker officially arrived in Pennsylvania in 2019, after PokerStars soft-launched its site. This made PA the fourth US state to legalize online poker, after Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware.
Since then, poker players in Pennsylvania have enjoyed many tournaments, cash games, and incentives, and the market has experienced increased traffic and prize pool spurts.
In April 2021, Borgata Poker and BetMGM Poker joined the poker party in the state, with WSOP.com joining some months after. This means that all four online poker giants are available for the player in PA today.
Poker Sites We Recommend
History of Pennsylvania Online Poker
The gambling legislation in Pennsylvania today is focused on deploying the generated revenues to repair the state’s financial crises, create jobs, and scale the economy. The lottery act of PA state was established for this reason as an entity run by the government (Act 91 of 1971).
The bill also detailed guidelines on the necessary procedures for commercial advertising, prize distribution, and ticket sales in relation to gambling. Passing this bill encouraged the demand for casinos in the state between the 1980s and 1990s. This was when they first attempted to establish casinos in the Resort Area of the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania.
Residents rejected the idea of a casino in the area. The reason for this aversion was due to how the populace perceived gambling at the time.
In the early 90s, factions began a move to legalize gambling on riverboats. Many advocates for this motion believed the decision could lead to a significant upturn for the economy. However, financial experts, social scientists, and analysts postulated that the downsides of allowing gambling in the state would outweigh the benefits. They also believed that legalizing gambling would destroy families and businesses, and cause traffic congestion and an increase in crime.
Another factor that discouraged the establishment of casinos and legal gambling was the governor-elect at the time. Tom Ridge stated that his administration would only pass bills into law based on their popularity with voters.
The State House passed a gaming bill that would allow slot machines in the state on authorized riverboats and at race tracks. It also permitted video poker to be accessible at taverns. Sadly, the proposal wasn’t subject to a vote and was swept under the carpet like in previous years.
2004 – 2009
It was in 2004 that Act 71 was passed by PA legislators. This was a significant step in the motion to make gambling legal. Act 71 is also known as the Pennsylvania Racehorse Development and Gaming Act. This act was set up by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. It legalized racetracks and casinos in the state. At this time, it was thought that the horse racing industry would improve employment rates and generate revenue for the state.
The former aversion to gambling on religious and social grounds became less prevalent. The concern about increased crime rates was reduced because casinos were now owned by public corporations. In the first year after launch, seven casinos generated a tax revenue of $766 million; by the close of 2009, Pennsylvania amassed machine revenues bigger than those found in any other states except Nevada.
2016 – Present
More gambling legislation was put in place in Pennsylvania due to the success of the previous legislation. In 2017, the Satellite Casino and Truck shop bill planned to build ten mini-casinos. The bill also expanded casino-style gambling to airports, truck stops, and online portals.
PA Online Poker Laws
To reiterate, is online poker legal in Pennsylvania? Yes! However, like in every other state in the US, gambling laws regulate the practice to ensure the safety of players. The regulations regarding online poker for money in Pennsylvania aren’t so different from those of live games. This is a summary of these laws:
- All players need to be 21 years and above to sign up and play at Pennsylvania online poker sites.
- Players can have a single account with an individual operator.
- Players must pay federal and state taxes on winnings.
Operators are also bound by certain regulations. First, they need to be licensed by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) to offer real-money online poker games. They must also store the funds of players separately from operational accounts. This guarantees that players will never lose money even in the face of company financial problems.
Licensed gaming operators of poker rooms, betting sites, and casinos, must make sure players have the tools they need to gamble responsibly. This means being able to set deposit and withdrawal limits and having access to professional help for players who need assistance.
As with every other state where online poker is legal, players have to be within the boundaries of the state to play legal online poker in Pennsylvania. Players don’t have to be residents of PA, but they must be within the state to open or sign up and play real-money online poker in Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania online poker sites set up geolocation software to ensure you don’t play from outside the state by accident. This software verifies the information of players. Players cannot play PA Online Poker without allowing the geolocation software to track their devices.
Legal PA Sweepstake Poker Rooms and Casinos
There are many cash prizes, table games, and casino slots provided by sweepstake sites in Pennsylvania. The regulation of these casinos is more relaxed. You don’t need to worry about breaking any federal laws as sweepstake casinos are legal across most states in the USA. You can access these sites using smartphones, computers, or tablets. You might find the sweepstake system difficult to navigate initially, but you will get used to it.
How do Sweepstake Casinos operate?
The dual-currency system is the main difference between sweepstake casinos and regular online poker sites. The currencies used in sweepstake casinos have no monetary value in themselves, but you can claim prizes using the sweepstake coins.
The way sweepstakes casinos make money is by the sales of gold coins. When players buy these coins, they get some amount of sweepstake coins for free as a bonus. For instance, purchasing $10 worth of gold coins might fetch you 10 sweep coins for free.
Here’s another way to view it:
After you have purchased gold coins, gotten your free sweepstakes coins, and gathered about 50 of these coins, you will be able to redeem your cash prizes.
You don’t need to buy anything to claim the cash prizes provided by these sweepstake casinos. However, if you run short of either of the two currencies, you can improve your gameplay by making a purchase.
Are These Sweepstakes Casinos Legal in Pennsylvania?
The only condition required by the US is that you must be at least 18 years old to access online sweepstake sites. It is safe to say that these casinos are legal across US states.
Top Online Casinos for Real-Money Poker in PA in 2022
1. FanDuel Casino
In the first month of operation, FanDuel became a contender as the top-earning PA online casino. It eclipsed all other mobile casinos in the state in terms of revenue and still stands as one of the leading forces in the state. It is licensed by Valley Forge Casino Resort and operates as a sportsbook and casino.
This casino is ideal for new players and gives around $1,000 + $100 free credits. When players lose games within the first 24 hours of signing up, FanDuel Casino provides a refund.
2. BetMGM Casino
The service provided by this casino over the years has earned them the title of the overall best online poker site serving PA. This is due to the top ratings for the app, welcome bonus, and wide-variety game selection. It officially launched in 2020, partnering with Hollywood Casino. BetNGM sportsbook is also accessible with BetMGM Poker via the app. It is the verified partner for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
This casino is the best for Pennsylvania bettors, with players receiving a welcome bonus of $25 with no deposit required.
3. Caesars Casino
Caesars online casino is licensed by Harrah’s Philadelphia and is available on mobile apps in conjunction with Caesar’s Sportsbook. The gaming options are numerous, with a variety of live games, slots, table games, and rewards.
They almost double new players’ money with their deposit rewards. This is undeniably the best reward program available in the US among online casinos and arguably the best welcome bonus.
4. DraftKings Casino
DraftKings casino in Pennsylvania doesn’t just offer sports betting services. They also offer players live dealers, huge jackpots, and exclusive table games. Like FanDuel Casino, DraftKings launched in 2020 and have quickly become big players in the online gaming industry. They offer the biggest deposit bonus for online poker players.
The brand is licensed by Hollywood Casino, and players can access the link to the site from their sportsbook platform.
5. Hollywood Casino
Lovers of Hollywood Casino at the Penn National Race course know this brand offers world-class entertainment. Their online casino offering is just as exciting, and begins with a deposit bonus of $10 given to players when they sign up.
6. Unibet Casino
This casino has been established for several of years in Europe and has plenty of experience in casino entertainment.
Unibet plans to replicate its success with casino games in the US. They have a great game selection and many promotions – second only to BetMGM.
Unibet expanded into the US market by launching in Pennsylvania with a sportsbook and hybrid online casino in November 2019.
7. BetRivers Casino
Rivers Pittsburgh and Rivers Philadelphia are top names in the PA gambling market. With their consistent revenue generation, they are undoubtedly leading the online gaming space in the state.
BetRivers has the best playthrough (1x) slots play requirement in the industry today. Players can begin by playing with about five hundred dollars off the bat.
Pennsylvania Online Casinos: New Launches and Coming Soon
There are a few online casinos about to be launched in Pennsylvania. Some of these include:
- 888 Casino: Players expect this casino to launch in 2022.. 888 currently operates in New Jersey and will surely add color to the existing casino scene in Pennsylvania.
- PlayStar Casino: Expected to launch in 2022. Players don’t know what to expect as PlayStar is a new name in the casino space. Hopes are high that the company will bring innovation and a high-quality customer experience.
- Golden Nugget: Golden Nugget is the newest online casino in PA. They provide a no-deposit bonus of $10 and an additional 100% deposit match, as high as $1000.
Bonuses Available at The Best PA Online Poker Sites
There are many bonuses that players can enjoy when they sign up to play online poker. Here are a few you should watch out for:
- Free Sign-up or No-Deposit Bonus
The numerous online casinos in Pennsylvania offer bonuses to players for signing up. All you need to do to enjoy these bonuses is to open an account. After signing up, the casino immediately credits the bonus to the players’ accounts. These bonuses usually range between $10 and $35.
- Deposit Bonuses
The biggest bonus offers are the deposit-match bonuses. Online casinos match players’ initial deposits by 100% up to a maximum amount. So players’ money gets doubled.
There is a playthrough requirement common to all casinos. This means that players will need to place a certain number of bets before they will be able to make withdrawals. Always read the terms and conditions to discover the playthrough requirements of any online casino.
The playthrough requirements can also be specific to games; slot players always enjoy the lowest playthrough requirements, while table game players need to meet the highest requirements.
BetRivers offers the lowest playthrough requirement in PA with a 100% deposit match up to $250 with a 1X playthrough. They don’t offer a no-deposit bonus though.
DraftKings Casinos in Pennsylvania offers the largest deposit-match bonus with a 100% offer, up to $2000 and a 15X playthrough.
- Loss Rebates
This bonus provides rebates for losses made within a timeframe up to a maximum amount. For example, FanDuel casino offers loss rebates on “Play it Again” day. In this promo, when players deposit about $1000, the casino gives them a refund of all the losses they incur within a 24-hour duration.
For example, if a player makes a $1000 deposit and after the initial 24 hours, they have $600, FanDuel will then return $400 as betting credits. However, if players make a net win in a poker game on the site after 24 hours, the casino will make no refunds.
Free Online Poker VS Real-Money Poker
It’s vital to study poker strategy before moving from free online games to real-money poker. It takes a lot of skill to navigate the game when it comes to playing online poker for real money.
Make use of the opportunity provided at online poker rooms to learn the various poker game types and how they work. PokerStars allows you to create special tables for yourself and your friends with the “Home Games” feature. Friends outside of Pennsylvania can also join in with the fun.
You can also enjoy real-money poker games on some sites without making a deposit. For instance, Party Poker gives new players $10 cash and $15 tournament tokens when they sign up. Sites like PokerStars also offer tokens of up to $50 after playing one hand.
The best way to get off to a good start at these real-money poker tables is by beginning with smaller buy-ins. This way, you will be able to assess your opponents’ skill levels and win the games before scaling up to higher buy-ins.
Making Deposits and Withdrawals at Pennsylvania Online Poker Rooms
Here are the most common deposit methods available in most online poker rooms in PA:
- Casino cage: It is easy to make deposits and withdrawals at the physical place where the casino is located.
- Debit/Credit cards: You can make instant payments using bank cards, MasterCard, or Visa cards. Discover cards are also allowed on some sites.
- PayNearMe: This method of depositing cash requires a physical CVS store or 7-Eleven. For smaller deposits, it is not advisable to use this option as the fees for making deposits are fixed.
- Prepaid play + cards: Lots of gambling sites use debit cards. They not only help you withdraw your earnings but also make transactions secure. Players eventually retrieve their cash from ATMs using these cards.
- PayPal: This is one of the most popular wallet systems online. It can be used as a bridge between online merchants and your bank. You can use it for withdrawals and deposits, but some online casinos in Pennsylvania do not have this option. PayPal is a rare option on some of these sites because of the high fees and deductible tax.
- Skrill/Neteller: These work the same way as PayPal and are owned by the same company. For many years, this payment option has been popular among poker players globally. There is a chance that they’re not available on some PA online poker sites for the same reasons as PayPal.
- Bank wire: Players don’t seem to favor this payment option because it isn’t as quick as many others. However, you can use it to transfer much larger amounts.
- Bill pay: This option is common, especially if you use it for paying utility bills. This option isn’t used for withdrawals.
- Paper check/ order: This is another slow payment method used by some Pennsylvania online poker sites. You can make this your last resort for when no other online methods are available.
PA Online Casinos with The Most Games
Some years ago, Parx casino was the leader in terms of the variety of games they offered. However, other iGaming sites have caught up and even surpassed their record. If you want to enjoy a wide variety of games, here are some of the casino sites you should look out for:
- DraftKings Casino – Offers the most exclusive games
- Caesars Casino – Offers the best rewards program
- BetMGM Casino – Offers the biggest jackpots
One great feature common to all three casinos is that they display all the available gaming options before you sign up. The drawback with Parx casino is that they do not show you all the games they have to offer until after you have signed up. This poses a hurdle to potential players.
How can I play legal online poker in Pennsylvania?
There are about twelve casinos where you can play online poker for money in Pennsylvania. All you need to do is register an account, make a deposit, and then begin playing. Poker sites in Pennsylvania have also adopted mobile technology in the last ten years. Many improvements have been seen in these fields based on customization and gameplay, offering a smooth player experience. So, all you need to do is download the mobile app and follow the directions provided to begin playing poker.
Who can play online poker for real money in Pennsylvania?
You need to be at least 21 years old and within Pennsylvania to play at any of the best PA online poker sites.
How can poker site operators know I’m in PA?
Similar to in other states, Pennsylvania online poker apps and sites use geolocation software, so players can’t log in from a different state. GeoComply is one of the companies that ensure the provision of accurate software, making sure players engage only with poker sites within the state.
What is the player pool for online poker in Pennsylvania?
As of the spring of 2020, PokerStars in PA saw a major uptick in active participants of online poker. The numbers averaged between 1200 and 1600 players daily.
Will PA form a compact with other US states?
The gaming law enacted in 2017 allows for the expansion of the PA online poker market. There may soon be interstate player pooling with other states where online poker is legal such as Nevada, New Jersey, West Virginia, Michigan, and Connecticut.
Is online poker legal in PA?
Yes. It became legal in 2017.
What are the available online poker games?
Sit-and-go, cash games, and tournaments are currently available at these online sites. The main games available are pot-limit Omaha and Texas hold ’em, but the variety of games offered in PA casinos is increasing by the day. These sites also provide fast-fold poker and many other game formats.