Rush Street wins Delaware online-gambling contract; state's online-poker future uncertain

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Haley Hintze Author Photo
Haley Hintze
Posted on: August 18, 2023 19:15 PDT

A change is in store for Delaware's online-poker players after Rush Street Interactive, Inc. (RSI) announced yesterday that it has been selected by the Delaware State Lottery as its vendor for the state’s online-gaming business. RSI will be replacing 888 as the state's sole vendor of these services, which under 888 included online poker.

RSI is currently live in 15 US states, plus Ontario, Mexico, and Columbia, with one or more forms of online gambling, most often online sports betting. The company bills itself as a "top five" provider of online-gaming services in the regulated US sphere, largely under its BetRivers brand. To date, though, RSI has yet to launch an online-poker platform in any of the states it currently services, despite its purchase of Phil Galfond's Run It Once online-poker startup in March 2022.

In announcing its selection as the vendor selected by the Delaware Lottery to replace 888, RSI made no mention of either online poker or Run It Once, leaving the matter an open question. RSI could conceivably launch a Run It Once online-poker network in as many as four states. Besides Delaware, RSI and BetRivers are also licensed to offer online services in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and West Virginia, though West Virginia has had no active online-poker sites serving its populace to date.

888 withdrew from application process

One of the untold mysteries in the Delaware online-gambling vendor update is that original vendor 888 Holdings seemingly walked away from the process in May, withdrawing its application. An unnamed third vendor that had originally applied did so as well, leaving Rush Street as the sole bidder.

888 continues to serve the state during the last months of its initial 10-year deal with the Delaware Lottery. 888's services, in an online collaboration with Delaware's three racinos, went live in 2013 after being approved in 2012. Rush Street Interactive will enter a similar 10-year arrangement, consisting of an initial five-year pact plus five single-year rollovers before the license again comes up for renewal and open bidding.

Why 888 walked away from the Delaware market remains publicly unknown, though it appears that it will provide continuing services in the state until RSI's BetRivers (and potentially Run It Once) services are fully operational and have been approved by Delaware's regulators for real-money play.

Deal adds to Rush Street's Northeast US strength

Rush Street Interactive CEO Richard Schwartz cited his company's selection as another key component of the company's regional growth. “We are honored to be selected by the Delaware State Lottery selection committee to provide online gaming operations in the First State,” said Schwartz. “This partnership is yet another significant milestone for RSI, as the confidence of a state-backed organization, such as the Delaware Lottery, further validates the trust that lottery officials have in our award-winning online platform and customer service.

"Building on our proven track record of success in the tri-state area of Delaware, Pennsylvania and New Jersey, where RSI was an early entrant in the first online market in the U.S., we are honored to collaborate with the Delaware Lottery team and the state’s three casinos to offer consumers who are geo-located in Delaware with safe, convenient, and innovative online gaming experiences."

“Rush Street Interactive has established itself as a leading innovator in the industry, and is a respected iGaming and sports betting company,” said Delaware Lottery director Helene Keeley. “We are impressed not only with RSI’s successes in other jurisdictions, including neighboring New Jersey and Pennsylvania, but also its strong commitment to responsible gambling practices.”