After months of speculation, Rush Street Interactive (RSI) confirmed that it will “eventually” add online poker to its gaming platform.
The announcement was not idle chit-chat; it accompanied news that the company had completed its acquisition of Poker Night in America — a popular series that features cash games and Sit & Go action and airs nationally on the CBS Sports Network — in a cash-and-stock transaction valued at $4.9 million.
CEO Richard Schwartz said Poker Night will complement RSI’s acquisition and onboarding of the Run It Once Poker (RIO) team, for which the Chicago-based company made a separate $5.8 million deal last March.
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RSI Eyeing Content, Cross-Sell Opportunities Ahead of Poker Launch
RSI has been mostly mum on its plans for US online poker since March.
Schwartz last mentioned online poker in early May, during an earnings call to discuss Q1 2022. At the time, he hinted that poker would be a key component of the company’s plans to turn profitable by the second half of 2023. He also heaped praise on RSI’s development team, which by then included elements from RIO.
But the CEO gave online poker a little bit of the spotlight last week — albeit at the end of his commentary — during another earnings call, this one to talk about Q2 2022.
“I’m excited to let you know we recently completed the acquisition of Poker Night in America, a leading content provider of live and recorded poker tournaments and events,” Schwartz said during the call on August 4.
“Poker Night has a strong following and a deep library of poker TV content and media creation capabilities that will help to further build out the BetRivers network and engage our target audience on an ongoing basis,” the CEO continued.
Schwartz added, “Recall that two quarters ago, we also purchased an online poker platform. Together, these two tuck-ins will position us well for when we eventually launch online poker and the associated strong cross-sell opportunities that poker will bring to our casino and sportsbook verticals.”
Schwartz disclosed that the Poker Night acquisition was funded with about $2.2 million in cash and $2.7 million of RSI stock. “We don’t expect this acquisition to have any near-term impact on either revenues or profitability, but rather it will serve as a growth enabler for our business.”
The Poker Night series was developed and produced by Rush Street Productions, a subsidiary of Rush Street Gaming, a sister company to RSI. It is considered the subsidiary’s flagship series.
RSI’s earnings presentation for Q2 2022 also references online poker. The company said its BetRivers brand will be “adding poker content to engage an incremental player demographic to cross-sell to casino and sportsbook.”
BetRivers Would Go Head-to-Head with BetMGM and PokerStars
BetRivers Casino is currently live in four states — Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. All four states also allow for online poker, although West Virginia doesn’t have any operators currently offering it.
The first two states on the list are signatories of the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement (MSIGA), an interstate compact that allows operators to share liquidity through its player pools in other states. Pennsylvania is thinking about joining the compact, as is West Virginia.
When BetRivers does launch online poker, it will go head-to-head with PokerStars and what’s informally being called the BetMGM Poker Network (BetMGM, Borgata, and partypoker). Both rivals currently offer online poker in Michigan, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.
Here, BetRivers could have a slight edge — while BetMGM operates an online casino in West Virginia, PokerStars’ Stars Casino doesn’t.