The Mt. Airy Casino in Pennsylvania has officially opened a new space for poker and sports betting.
According to a report from pahomepage.com, the casino had a soft opening of its space a few weeks ago, with the grand opening taking place on Nov. 9. In June, the casino presented its plans to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, telling regulators that it would open in September.
New: Mount Airy Casino, in partnership with The Stars Group, plans a poker room/sportsbook. Poker and sports betting would be in the same space, and not separate. Couldn't be any easier for poker players to bet on sports. pic.twitter.com/wXJHuNNAbu
— Brian (@brianpempus) June 12, 2019
The casino is buying into the idea that poker and sports betting share customer bases.
“We’re constantly investing in our player experience and are proud to offer our customers both a retail sportsbook and an online interactive gaming experience,” Todd Greenberg, CEO and general manager of the Mount Airy Casino, said in a statement after the Nov. 9 grand opening. “Now, our guests can watch, bet, and play cards all in the same integrated location — and during sporting events’ infamously long commercials, they have the option of gaming from their phones at the world’s largest online poker site.”
The new sportsbook space has 40 TVs and eight kiosks for sports gambling. There’s 12 poker tables, up from the previous eight. In September, Mt. Airy reported 11 poker tables to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. Those poker tables collected $105,486 in rake, up 17% in a year-over-year comparison.
The grand opening came just a handful of days after PokerStars, a Mt. Airy online gambling partner, launched in Pennsylvania cyberspace. It is the only PA-sanctioned online poker site currently live in the state and traffic so far has been relatively impressive. In August 2018, Mt. Airy and The Stars Group, now owned by FanDuel parent Flutter Entertainment, forged an iGambling relationship.
The online poker offering, and the upgrade to the facility’s live poker room, took some time to come to fruition. According to Greenberg’s statement, Mt. Airy wants its live poker players to play online at PokerStars simultaneously. In the poker world that’s called multi-tabling. Many poker players will happily oblige thanks to the relatively slow nature of live poker.
The Mt. Airy poker room is the second smallest in the state in terms of rake. It likely won’t be shooting up the rankings thanks to PokerStars offering online poker. There is some incentive to drive online players to a live poker room, but it’s minimal. The 12 tables keep the poker room at about the same size as its rival at the nearby Mohegan Sun Pocono casino, which didn’t apply for regulatory approval for iPoker. The increase to 12 tables is more thanks to sports betting than online poker.
Still, poker players will find much smaller stakes online than they would at Mt. Airy, and that could spark an interest in poker that translates to dabbling in live $1-$2 no-limit hold’em. On the internet, $1-$2, which usually has a maximum buy-in of $200, is considered medium stakes.
Pennsylvania poker players will not see major investments in live poker rooms until there’s another boom period for the card game. That would require Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and other legal jurisdictions to share player pools, creating sufficient liquidity for cash games and tournaments.
As for the Mohegan Sun Pocono poker room, there are some challenges ahead. Its rake fell 2% in September ahead of the PokerStars launch and the debut of Mt. Airy’s new space. According to a report in May from The Citizens Voice, Mohegan Sun Pocono had plans to slash its poker room from 18 tables to just eight. The plan did involve relocating the poker room to a more prominent part of the property, part of a remodeling project that reportedly came at a $400k price tag. The Citizens Voice reported that the eight-table room opened in early October.
According to Mohegan Sun Pocono, it had $2 mm in poker revenue last year, down from about $4 mm in 2011. It will be at a disadvantage without online poker and the Mt. Airy room being closeby.