Pennsylvania’s online betting and gambling landscape is beginning to take shape. On Friday, Mount Airy Casino and The Stars Group announced a partnership to offer online sports betting and gambling in Pennsylvania.

In a joint press release, The Stars Group and Mount Airy announced they plan to work together to offer online casino games, poker and sports betting as soon as the proper licenses are in place.

Matt Primeaux of The Stars Group said this in a statement:

“We’re excited to take this next step as The Stars Group looks to broaden its presence in the United States. In partnership with Mount Airy Casino Resort, we believe we’re well positioned to capitalize on opportunities in the Commonwealth by bringing our world leading offerings to Pennsylvania players.”

Mount Airy VP of Marketing & Gaming Operations Vincent Jordan said this:

“As one of Pennsylvania’s leaders in entertainment, offering internet sports wagering and gaming and partnering with The Stars Group is the obvious next step for us to continue diversifying our casino offerings.

“Introducing internet gaming through The Stars Group will provide compelling opportunities for our customers, particularly our younger customers, who are ready to experience the next gaming challenge.”

PA Sports Betting No Longer in Doubt

This makes Mount Airy the second Pennsylvania casino to state its intent to offer online sports betting after Parx Casino and GAN plc made a similar announcement last month.

Rush Street Gaming is also likely to enter the Pennsylvania online casino and sports betting markets, although the company has not officially announced plans to do so yet. However, Rush Street did reach an agreement with the Kambi Group earlier this year to partner on sports betting.

The Rush Street and Kambi Group agreement had immediate implications for New Jersey, where Rush Street operates SugarHouse Online. Rush Street Gaming also operates Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh and SugarHouse in Philadelphia. The partnership with Kambi for sports betting seems likely to extend to the Pennsylvania market in the future.

To sum it all up, we have two, maybe three Pennsylvania casinos entering the PA sports betting market. Mount Airy Casino and Parx Casino have both confirmed their plans to offer online sports betting, and Rush Street Gaming properties look likely to follow suit at some point.

There were concerns as recently as last month that sports betting could face an uphill battle after it was revealed that not a single casino had applied for a sports betting license after the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) invited casinos to begin submitting licensing applications on May 31st.

Those concerns have been mostly allayed now that we have a minimum of two casinos confirming their plans to enter the PA sports betting market. If this trend continues, Pennsylvania is on course to become the next major sports betting state in the USA.

PokerStars Making USA Comeback

PokerStars was at one time the largest online poker site open to players in the United States. At its US peak, PokerStars had upwards of 50,000 players online during peak hours. A law passed in 2006 prohibiting the transfer of money for online gaming purposes did not stop PokerStars from continuing to serve the US market.

Finally, in April of 2011, the Department of Justice (DOJ) acted against PokerStars and several other poker sites that insisted on serving the US market. PokerStars founder Isai Scheinberg was among those indicted, bank accounts were frozen and websites were plastered with DOJ seizure notices.

PokerStars was effectively kicked out of the United States and its reputation sullied. However, the company regrouped, focused on its international business and eventually reached a $731 million settlement with the DOJ.

The settlement wiped away PokerStars’ legal troubles in the United States, but did not necessarily clear the way for a triumphant return years later. Lawmakers in several states proposed legislation with a “bad actor” clause that would have shut PokerStars out of the US market. There were legitimate concerns that PokerStars would never find its way back to the United Sates.

Eventually, PokerStars received approval from the Division of Gaming Enforcement to operate in the regulated New Jersey market. This was a big win not just for PokerStars in New Jersey, but for its prospects in the wider US market as additional states pass legislation. Approval in New Jersey lent legitimacy to PokerStars as an online gaming provider and set an example for lawmakers in other states.

Now, PokerStars is set to enter its second state in the US with the Mount Airy deal. Pennsylvania gaming legislation does not include a bad actor clause and PokerStars should have no issue receiving approval.

Sports betting is soaking up all the press lately, but something poker players can look forward to is PokerStars making an online poker comeback as well. As the company enters additional states, it will undoubtedly seek to take advantage of interstate gaming compacts allowing players from multiple states to sit at the same online poker tables. Right now, the future is looking brighter for PokerStars in the United States than it has in a long time.

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