BetMGM's quick PA expansion generates online poker hope

Jon Pill
Posted on: March 05, 2021 07:27 PST

Pennsylvania is one step closer to a second online poker room today because BetMGM just expanded its services in the Keystone State.

The new software launched under the name Borgata Casino PA.

The Borgata brand is owned by MGM. BetMGM makes use of the Borgata when an alternative shop front is called for.

Since online poker legalization hit the Keystone State, PokerStars PA has been the only operator taking advantage. Other online gambling operators do work in the state, but none provide online poker. BetMGM currently provides a sportsbook service and a separate iGaming service with digital and live dealer table games. Both of these use the BetMGM branding.

BetMGM's successes are the current best hope for a second poker site.

Hear me roar!

For over a year now, PokerStars PA has operated without competition.

The regulators recently licensed GGPoker to provide poker software in the state. However, their current license does not allow them to operate the site. GG would either need to partner with a licensed operator or complete a separate application for an operator's license.

Partypoker has been applying for a while. But they continue to languish, waiting for approval on their application for a license to enter the PA online poker market.

BetMGM entered the wider Pennsylvania gambling market with its sportsbook in December 2020. At the time, the expectation was that once BetMGM established a sportsbook, expansion into other areas would follow. If their entry to the New Jersey market was a model, then the most likely sequence was casino games next, and then poker.

Opposing forces

With less than three months passed since the sportsbook launched, and two casinos already up and running, hopes are high for a similarly swift introduction of poker in the near future. BetMGM Poker PA might make its way to the streets from the world ideas in just a few months.

BetMGM has had to partner with the brick-and-mortar sites in PA to bring their casino offering to the state. This is a feature of many state online gambling laws. The standard practice seems to push for a requirement to partner with a licensed site in-state.

Interestingly, BetMGM has taken on different partners for their various software. Their sportsbook gained its license under a partnership with Hollywood Casino Morgantown. And their iGaming license is with Penn National's Hollywood Casino. Borgata Casino PA, on the other hand, partnered with the Rivers Casino.

BetMGM operates both the BetMGM Casino PA and Borgata Casino PA software. The reasoning behind introducing the Borgata brand to PA, in direct competition with the BetMGM brand, isn't entirely clear.

BetMGM is a joint venture between European online gambling company Entain and the U.S.-based MGM brand. The MGM side of the business tried to purchase Entain recently, but had its offer turned down.

Together, Entain and MGM run two online poker rooms in the U.S. already. Both are in New Jersey. One goes by BetMGM Poker NJ and the other as Borgata Online Poker brand.

The fact that BetMGM has put both brands into play in PA is another reason to be hopeful. A more established BetMGM in-state makes an online poker offering more likely.

However, with three brick and mortars, two acrimonious parent companies, two competing brands, and a hard-to-read regulator, there are a lot of moving parts in play that cause problems before that happens.

In the meantime, you can keep up with the story here.

Featured image source: Flickr