Pennsylvania’s online poker players have been waiting for months on two more options to join PokerStars as sites they can use in the state, and now the prospect of a third has arisen.
NSUS Group, which has headquarters in Toronto and operates the GGPoker site around the world outside the United States, won approval for an interactive gaming manufacturer license from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board on Wednesday.
Because NSUS Group and GGPoker are not part of any casino operating in Pennsylvania, the license does not allow any direct access in the state for iGaming by NSUS and online peer-to-peer games by GGPoker. The company could enter into an agreement with a Pennsylvania casino operator, however, to provide those.
There is no indication it has a plan in place for that. Similarly, state gaming board spokesman Doug Harbach said, there is no timing to offer yet for any imminent launch by the two other poker sites that have licensing approval and are expected to arrive in Pennsylvania this year: WSOP through Caesars Interactive/888 and partypoker through BetMGM Online Casino.
Progress still awaited toward multi-state compact
Pennsylvania poker players are awaiting the chance to have additional options beyond PokerStars, which has been the sole site on which to play in the state since November 2019.
It is possible some of the delay in launch by other operators has been due to uncertainty that surrounded plans for Pennsylvania to join a multi-state poker compact with other states that have legal online games, most notably New Jersey.
A Trump administration Department of Justice opinion concerning restrictions under the federal Wire Act had a chilling effect on progress of negotiations to join such a compact, but a recent First Circuit Court of Appeals decision and the change in presidential administrations will likely enable such discussions to resume. Harbach said it is too soon after the court opinion, however, for any progress to have taken place.
A multi-state poker pool greatly increases the number of potential players and games, making the sites much more attractive to players and thus more lucrative to operators.
While GGPoker might be unfamiliar to most Pennsylvania players, it has seen large international growth in recent years — particularly in Europe — after starting on a small scale in Asia. It has become a partner with WSOP in tournaments for which GGPoker handles the games played online outside the U.S.
NSUS first submitted its application for a Pennsylvania manufacturer license in December 2019.