Is the return of live poker imminent in Pennsylvania?

Poker writer Geoff Fisk profile photo
Geoff Fisk
Posted on: October 11, 2020 01:51 PDT

Pennsylvania's live poker rooms shuttered for seven months due to COVID-19

Pennsylvania's 12 retail casinos are all back open for business at limited capacity, but the live poker rooms inside those casinos remain closed. The COVID-19 pandemic forced Pennsylvania's live poker scene to a halt in mid-March, and Pennsylvania players still await for the doors to reopen.

Are live poker rooms in the Keystone State getting the green light to come back in the coming weeks? Comments from three industry insiders point to a definitive "maybe" for that question.

Anthony F. Cicali III, a New Jersey resident and reporter for poker media outlet US Poker, sent out a tweet earlier this week that hinted at the possible reopening of the Parx Casino poker room:

"From an insider I was told 6 weeks, 7 person poker opening at Parx," wrote Cicali in the tweet. Parx Casino operates as the highest-earning casino in the state, and hosts one of Pennsylvania's most popular poker rooms.

The 80-table setup at Parx makes the venue by far the largest poker room in the state. If Parx does get authorization to open, the state's eight other live poker venues likely wouldn't be far behind.

Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board offers no set date for poker rooms to reopen

Cicali alludes to seven-handed games at Parx Casino when the poker room does get approval to reopen for business. reached out to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) for insight on when live poker rooms might return, and whether those reopening plans include restrictions on the maximum number of players at each table.

PGCB Communication Director Doug Harbach responded by email, and Harbach wrote that the gaming regulatory agency hasn't determined a date for the return of live poker yet.

"There has been no date established yet," Harbach wrote. "A number of casinos have now provided safety protocol plans to the Gaming Control Board and are being reviewed."

"We do not have a guideline on a maximum number of players at a table. Instead, that would be up to each casino as to how many could be seated safely at each table and the measures to be taken to assure that."

Rivers Casino Pittsburgh and Rivers Casino Philadelphia operate as the second and third-largest poker rooms in the state. reached out to Rivers Philadelphia about the potential reopening plans for its 28-table poker room.

"Plans for reopening the poker room at Rivers Casino Philadelphia are yet to be determined," Horner wrote in an email. "We’ll keep you posted."

An inquiry to Parx Casino wasn't returned as of the time of this publishing. For now, Pennsylvania poker players can turn to outlets like PokerStars PA, and the newly approved WSOP/888 platform coming soon to the Keystone State.

Featured image source: Flickr/World Poker Tour