Will Pennsylvania Players Get To Play In The 2021 WSOP Online Series?

The 2021 World Series of Poker presents an unprecedented number of official bracelet events for this year’s series. While the official schedule for the live WSOP isn’t public knowledge yet, players can count on that slate including at least 80 live tournaments emanating from the Rio Las Vegas this fall.

WSOP has also announced 66 online bracelet events, hosted at WSOP.com in the US and GGPoker outside of the states. WSOP.com offers 33 of those online events for players in the US.

The WSOP Online 2021 series is open to players at either WSOP Nevada or WSOP New Jersey. New Jersey offers the only opportunity to win WSOP bracelets outside of Nevada, at least for now.

A WSOP/888poker platform will launch in Pennsylvania sometime in the coming months. LegalOnlinePoker.com expects the site to go live in the Keystone State before the end of 2021, but the official debut date is still to be determined.

Is it possible that Pennsylvania players get the chance to compete for bracelets in the 2021 WSOP Online series? A few things would have to fall into place for that to happen.

Status On Interstate Online Poker In The US

The US side of the 2021 WSOP Online series takes place from July 1 through August 1. The 33 events on the schedule all award an official WSOP bracelet to the winner.

Players get the chance to etch their names into the World Series of Poker history books with a win in one of the online bracelet events. For Pennsylvania players to enjoy legal access to the WSOP Online series, the WSOP/888poker platform would have to launch sometime before July 1.

In addition to that, Pennsylvania would have to pass a multijurisdictional online poker bill. Such legislation is already in place for New Jersey, Nevada, Delaware, and Michigan.

Of those states, only New Jersey and Nevada offer interstate online poker for now. The Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement (MSIGA) functions as an agreement among New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware, allowing online poker operators in those states to share player pools if they desire.

From that agreement, the All-American Poker Network (AAPN) operates as the nation’s only multi-state online poker network. The AAPN includes WSOP Nevada, WSOP New Jersey, and the 888poker Delaware network. Only the WSOP-branded sites allow players to compete for bracelets in the WSOP Online series, with 888poker Delaware players shut out of that action.

Outlook For Pennsylvania On The 2021 WSOP

Could the upcoming WSOP/888poker platform in Pennsylvania join the AAPN? Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board Communications Director Doug Harbach explained that the circumstances surrounding Pennsylvania’s regulated online poker industry present a complex situation.

It is still not clear whether the DOJ will pursue an appeal to the Supreme Court of the First Circuit decision regarding interstate gambling,” Harbach wrote in an email to LegalOnlinePoker.com. “Until there is some finality of the federal decision and whether there will be an appeal of that ruling, that stymies moving forward.”

Harbach is referring to a lawsuit involving the New Hampshire Lottery and the US Department of Justice, regarding the reach of the 1961 Wire Act. A 2018 opinion issued by the DOJ stated that the language of the Wire Act prevented all forms of online gambling transactions from crossing state lines.

The New Hampshire Lottery sued the DOJ over the opinion, with the lawsuit reaching the First Circuit Court of Appeals. The court issued a January decision in favor of the New Hampshire Lottery, essentially ruling that the language of the Wire Act only applied to sports betting.

While the First District Court has indicated that the DOJ won’t appeal the ruling, the possibility for the DOJ to keep pressing the issue still exists.

Harbach told LegalOnlinePoker.com that several other factors affect the status of a potential Pennsylvania interstate online poker bill.

“It is important to note that since a compact would involve a contract with other states and that the contract must adhere to federal law, any agreement must be reviewed by other entities in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,” Harbach wrote. “So, it is not just a PGCB decision. Also, the poker operators need to agree to the provisions of any agreement.”

When Will WSOP Launch In Pennsylvania?

Pennsylvania welcomed a new regulated online poker network earlier this week. BetMGM Poker and Borgata Poker went live in the Keystone State Tuesday, bringing a partypoker-powered network to the Pennsylvania market.

WSOP/888poker will join PokerStars PA and the BetMGM/Borgata Poker network in Pennsylvania at some point. Harbach didn’t reveal a specific date for that launch, however.

We continue to work with the license holder, Harrah’s Philadelphia Casino, on a launch but not date has been formalized yet,” Harbach wrote.

Harbach added that he “can’t speculate” on the future of a potential interstate poker bill in Pennsylvania, or on the possibility for Pennsylvania players to play in WSOP Online events at some point.

About the Author

Geoffrey Fisk

Geoff Fisk is a San Diego-based freelance writer, specializing in the poker and gambling industries. He’s written for numerous platforms and has traveled the globe as a live poker tournament reporter. Geoff’s interests include the legal online poker industry in the U.S. and abroad.