Delaware online poker goes dark amid operator changeover

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Haley Hintze Author Photo
Haley Hintze
Posted on: December 28, 2023 04:52 PST

After a decade of availability, regulated online poker in Delaware has been taken down as the state's lottery switches its provider of online gambling services from 888 Holdings to Rush Street Interactive (RSI) at the start of 2024. However, exactly when regulated online poker will again be available to players in the First State remains unclear.

The shutdown was expected well in advance, and is part of the Delaware Lottery 's changeover from 888 to RSI as its sole provider of online services. RSI was one of only two bidders, along with 888, to submit bids when 888's ten-year deal with the state expired this year. However, 888 later withdrew its bid, leaving Rush Street to inherit the agreement without a competing bid.

The Delaware Lottery, via its three licensed racino partners, Dover Downs, Delaware Park, and Harrington Raceway, notified online players on December 15 that online poker would enter a blackout in the coming weeks. That notice became reality on December 27, when 888Poker Delaware's server was taken offline and linkage to 888Poker was removed from the three racino's online portals. It's the first time a US state with regulated poker has seen those services entirely removed, even if it's only on a temporary basis.

Timeline for return uncertain

Exactly when regulated online poker returns for Delaware's residents remains unclear. Early in January, Rush Street Interactive will launch online sports-betting and online casino games (excepting poker) under its BetRivers brand, but online poker will not return at the same time.

The complicating factor appears to be RSI's reluctance to allow the relatively tiny Delaware online-poker market to operate on a solo basis, without being pooled with players in other states. In March of 2022, RSI acquired the Phil Galfond-founded Run It Once poker platform and has planned to use RIO as its US-wide online-poker offering.

However, RSI has not yet been able to bring RIO online in any of the other regulated US states. Once that occurs, whether in New Jersey, Michigan, or Nevada, then the disconnected Delaware players will likely have a chance to rejoin the online action.