Is Poker legal in Pennsylvania (pa)? Online Poker Laws in Pennsylvania Explained
Is poker legal in Pennsylvania?
Yes, live poker and online poker in Pennsylvania are both regulated and legal.
Online poker in Pennsylvania has been in demand for a long time, with Pennsylvanians finally getting access to the action that they craved after the passage of legislation to expand gambling throughout the state in 2017. The result of that legislation has been a combination of in-person and online poker that most states in America simply cannot replicate.
Here's a look at Pennsylvania's gambling laws:
- Online Poker/Gambling - There are currently seven casinos permitted to offer online poker in PA.
- Live Poker - There are 10 total casinos that offer live poker in Pennsylvania.
- Casinos - There are many casinos in Pennsylvania, offering slots, table games, poker and sports betting.
- Sports Betting - Sports bettors can wager on events in-person at a number of casinos or online on their mobile devices.
- Fantasy Sports - Pennsylvania has offered legal daily fantasy sports since 2018.
- Esports - Pennsylvania gambling laws currently prohibit esports wagering.
- Other Gambling Options - Bettors can also wager on horse racing, take part in the PA lottery and partake in bingo in Pennsylvania.
21+. Gamble Safely. If you or someone you know has a gambling problem and wants help, call 1-800-Gambler.
Can I play online poker in Pennsylvania?
Yes, it is legal to play online poker in Pennsylvania and has been since state lawmakers legalized it in 2017, with the first online poker site going live in 2019. You can choose from various legal poker sites in Pennsylvania, or, if you don't want to spend any money, specifically look for the best poker freerolls in Pennsylvania to play poker for free.
There are also plenty of outlets for legal online gambling in Pennsylvania at this time, though the number of options available does depend on the form of gambling that a bettor wants to do. The online casino and sports betting industries in Pennsylvania offer bettors many additional online gambling choices.
As it pertains to online casino gambling, Pennsylvania has a dozen options already live, and could see more enter the state in the near future. Online casino gaming first launched in Pennsylvania in July of 2019 with Sugarhouse Casino.
Can I play live poker in Pennsylvania?
Yes, there are nearly a dozen places to play live poker in Pennsylvania, with many casinos also offering slots, table games and sports betting.
Some of the most popular poker rooms in Pennsylvania include Live! Casino Philadelphia, Delaware Park, Parx Casino, Mohegan Sun Pocono, Hollywood Casino, Presque Isle Casino, The Meadows Racetrack & Casino and Wind Creek Casino.
Whether you are looking to play cash games or tournaments, you should be able to find everything you need from Philadelphia to Eastern Pennsylvania.
How old must you be to play poker in Pennsylvania?
21 is the legal age to play poker in Pennsylvania, both online and live, which is the same age as in other US states.
This is the legal age for other forms of gambling as well, with the exception of horse racing, bingo and the lottery, for which the legal age is 18.
- Online Poker is allowed
- Online Poker is legal since 2017
- HB 271
- Live Poker is allowed
- Live Poker is legal since 2010
- Senate Bill 711
- Online Casino is allowed
- Online Casino is legal since 2017
- HB 271
- Sports Betting is allowed
- Sports Betting is legal since 2017
- HB 271
The complete history of poker in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania Lawmakers Legalize Table Games (January 2010) - In 2010, Gov. Ed Rendell signed a new law legalizing table games, including poker, at casinos in the state, which at the time had been slots-only properties.
US Government Shuts Down Online Poker (April 2011) - 2011's Black Friday effectively shut down online poker in the US as players had their funds seized by the US Department of Justice.
Online Poker Legalized in Pennsylvania (October 2017) - In 2017, Pennsylvania lawmakers passed HB 271 into law, a bill legalizing online poker and other forms of gambling.
First Online Poker Site Enters Pennsylvania (November 2019) - PokerStars PA became the first online poker provider in the state on November 4, 2019.
More Poker Sites Join (2021) - Multiple online poker sites joined PokerStars in Pennsylvania in 2021, including WSOP PA and BetMGM Poker PA.
When was poker banned in Pennsylvania?
Live poker was not allowed in Pennsylvania until lawmakers passed a law in 2010 that allowed table games at the slots-only casinos, paving the way for poker rooms to take up shop in the state's casinos.
Like other states in the US, poker was banned in Pennsylvania during 2011's Black Friday when the US Department of Justice seized player funds and shut down online poker sites. For a few years, there were no legal online poker or gambling options available in the Keystone State.
Things changed in 2017 when the Pennsylvania legislature passed HB 271 into law, a bill that legalized many forms of gambling including poker. However, it would be two more years before the first online poker site launched in Pennsylvania.
When was poker legalized in Pennsylvania?
In 2017 state lawmakers passed HB 271 into law, which allowed for the expansion of a number of gambling activities. This law paved the way for legal sports betting to take place in the state, as well as online poker and casino action.
This move was a necessity, given the proximity of Pennsylvania to New Jersey. New Jersey is one of the most progressive states in America when it comes to gambling, with online gaming laws that allow for sports betting, online casino and online poker action.
A failure to regulate the industry in Pennsylvania would have caused many Pennsylvania residents to play in New Jersey instead, causing Pennsylvania to lose out on the tax revenue those players would have generated in-state in a regulated market.
The need for Pennsylvania to act defensively against the advances that New Jersey makes in the gambling industry is an encouraging sign for bettors in Pennsylvania. Even if state lawmakers are acting with the primary intention of protecting tax revenue from being cannibalized by a neighboring state, that mentality means that Pennsylvania will continue to offer more and more legal gambling options to keep up with New Jersey.
Current Pennsylvania Gambling Laws
Interestingly, online poker was the last of the newly permitted gambling activities to launch in the state of Pennsylvania. Online sports betting and online casino gaming were first made available to players in July of 2019. Poker players had to wait another four months before they could start playing, with online poker being launched in November of 2019.
Casinos were given the option to pay one licensing fee to operate online poker, online slots and table games online. They typically chose that option over the option to pay separate amounts to license those forms of gambling individually. These casinos have begun licensing PA online poker operators to offer online poker in this state, allowing bettors the ability to begin playing as of November of 2019 when PokerStars and Mount Airy Casino teamed up for the first legal online poker room in Pennsylvania.
Several other online poker operators launched after PokerStars, including WSOP and BetMGM, and other sites have Pennsylvania licenses and will launch in the future.
The Best Online Poker Sites in PA
For a while, there was only one place where players could take part in online poker legally in Pennsylvania. That was on PokerStars PA, which works with Mount Airy Casino to offer legal online poker in this state.
PokerStars was well-received thanks to its diverse array of game and tournament formats. Highlighted by their Sunday tournaments that offer lucrative prize pools, PokerStars offers tournament play and fast-paced sit-and-go action to go along with their more traditional cash game offerings.
The World Series of Poker (WSOP) followed PokerStars and launched WSOP PA in July 2021. Licensed through Harrah’s in Pennsylvania, the World Series of Poker app offers software through 888poker in the state. The online site offers a brand name that is synonymous with the biggest poker tournaments in the world, with satellite tournaments to get into live WSOP events being one of the main draws of the poker operator.
Another online poker option for players in Pennsylvania is BetMGM PA, an online casino that launched in April 2021 and also operates in New Jersey and Michigan. There is plenty of cash game and tournament action on BetMGM Pennsylvania, including the occasional tournament series such as the BetMGM Poker Online Championships.
There are also poker operators that have secured licenses in Pennsylvania but haven't yet launched sites. One such site is partypoker also took up shop in the Keystone State after being licensed by Valley Forge Casino in Pennsylvania. The popular global poker brand offers a fast-forward option that moves players to a new hand as soon as they fold their existing hand. This feature has become one of the most popular in the online poker world at multiple sites.
Another site is licensed but has yet to launch is GGPoker, a global operator that has had success in Canada, Europe and other parts of the world.
There are four additional casinos that have been permitted to offer online poker in Pennsylvania. Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course, Parx Casino, Rivers Casino and Wind Creek Bethlehem Casino have all been deemed able to provide online poker. However, these casinos have yet to partner with an online poker provider in order to launch online poker products of their own in the state.
If and when these four casinos do find a dance partner, so to speak, to offer online poker, it would create one of the strongest lineups of online poker options of any American state.
The Best Licensed Live Poker Rooms in Pennsylvania
In addition to online poker, Pennsylvania is home to many of the best poker rooms in the region that offer both cash game and tournament action at various stakes.
A great live poker option for northeast Pennsylvania players is Mohegan Sun Pocono in Wilkes-Barre, which also offers live harness racing, sports betting, shopping and entertainment.
The poker room at Mohegan Sun Pocono features nine tables and a variety of poker games at various limits. The Pennsylvania poker room offers daily tournaments, including bounty tournaments, as well as bad beat, progressive, and high hand jackpots to give players a bang for their buck.
Another live poker option is Parx Casino in Bensalem, which boasts providing “the best overall live table game action under one roof,” including sports betting, racing slots and over a hundred table games like blackjack, craps, and roulette.
Pittsburgh’s Rivers Casino calls itself the Burgh’s “hottest gaming destination” with over a hundred table games, sports betting, five restaurants, live entertainment, and a 30-table poker room.
The poker room at Rivers Casino Pittsburgh, open 10 a.m.-6 a.m. throughout the week, currently offers cash games with stakes at $1/$3 and higher in both no-limit Hold’em and pot-limit Omaha formats, as well as poker tournament action.
Thirty miles south of Pittsburgh is Hollywood Casino at the Meadows in Washington, which provides plenty of gambling action with 2,500 slot machines, over 65 table games, horse racing and a recently renovated sportsbook.
There is also a poker room at Meadows Casino, equipped with 14 tables with an open view of the live racing track. The Meadows Casino poker room offers cash games in the no-limit Hold-’em, pot-limit Omaha and Omaha Hi-Lo 8 or Better formats.
Is Poker Legal in Pennsylvania FAQs
Why was poker banned in Pennsylvania?
Like in the rest of the US, online poker in New Jersey was shut down in 2011 when the US Department of Justice seized player funds and shut down online sites.
Why was poker legalized in Pennsylvania?
Online poker has been legal in Pennsylvania since 2017 when a gambling expansion bill was signed into law. The first legal online poker site in this state launched in 2019, when PokerStars PA entered the market.
Can you open a poker room in Pennsylvania?
All poker rooms in Pennsylvania must be licensed through the Gaming Control Board, and all online poker rooms are licensed through casinos.
Is PokerStars legal in Pennsylvania?
Yes, PokerStars is fully legal and regulated in Pennsylvania and one of a handful of online poker options in the state.
Is partypoker legal in Pennsylvania?
Yes, partypoker is legal in Pennsylvania and offers both cash games and tournaments.
Is GGPoker legal in Pennsylvania?
GGPoker has yet to enter the US market but is expected to do so in the near future, including in Pennsylvania.
What are the best legal websites to play poker in Pennsylvania?
PokerStars PA, WSOP PA, and BetMGM PA all currently operate in Pennsylvania. Other sites like GGPoker and partypoker are anticipated to launch in the future.
What are the best poker rooms/casinos to play poker in Pennsylvania?
Some of the most popular poker rooms in Pennsylvania include Live! Casino Philadelphia, Delaware Park, Parx Casino and Mohegan Sun Pocono.