Caesars Interactive Entertainment (CIE) confirmed Monday that its WSOP.com brand will launch shortly in Pennsylvania along with its Caesars Casino, once regulators agree “go live” conditions have been satisfied.

WSOP.com

The poker liquidity Pennsylvania will eventually provide should be a big boost to WSOP.com and online poker in the US in general. With the first online gaming licenses now issued, the state’s online gaming market could be up and running before the end of the year. (Image: WSOP.com)

The company was granted a license to offer online poker and casino games in Pennsylvania, in partnership with Caesars Entertainment’s Harrah’s Philadelphia, last Wednesday.

It’s not clear whether this will be a matter of days weeks or months, but using New Jersey’s 2013 roll out as a guide, it’s likely Pennsylvania’s new online gaming industry will be up and running before the end of the year.

New Jersey began accepting applications for online gaming licenses in April of that year, as the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) did this year. New Jersey’s first online gaming site launched in late November 2013.

Caesars operates WSOP.com in Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware, and since May has mingled the the three states’ player pools. With a population of 12 million, Pennsylvania is the largest state to regulate online gambling so far and adding its player liquidity into the mix should provide a much-needed shot in the arm for online poker in the US. Pennsylvania’s online gambling legislation contains provisions for pool-sharing.

Parx, Mount Airy Also Licensed

A Caesars press release on Monday announced CIE and Harrah’s as “the first operator granted approval of their petition for an Interactive Gaming Certificate for online gaming in Pennsylvania,” although this is inaccurate.

On the day it approved Caesars, the PGCB also rubberstamped applications from Parx Casino and Mount Airy. The latter has an agreement with the Stars Group to provide online poker through its PokerStars brand, as well as online casino and eventually sports betting.

The PGCB said last week it had received licensing applications from 11 of Pennsylvania’s 13 casinos, all of which are expected to be approved. As of last week, Parx is the only operator so far to have applied for an online sports betting license.

Punishing Taxes

Some operators are reluctant to apply for sports betting licenses at all in Pennsylvania, which has chosen to tax all online gaming very highly. The tax on slots is 54 percent of gross gaming revenue, and table games 16 percent. Sport betting — a notoriously low margin business — will be taxed at 36 percent — three times the rate of New Jersey — with a license fee costing $10 million.

Caesars has not said whether it intends to offer sports betting in the state, although it is likely that it will once others begin to, to keep its properties competitive.

And despite that 54 percent tax on slots, Melanie Gross, CIE’s vice president of online casino, said Monday the company was “bullish” on Pennsylvania’s online gaming market.