RIO Poker patch on grey background. RIO Poker patch on grey background.

It’s been nearly one year since Rush Street Interactive (RSI) purchased Phil Galfond’s Run It Once Poker (RIO) platform for $5.8 million.

Since then, RSI has been quiet about its plans. Last summer, CEO Richard Schwartz said the company was preparing to “eventually” launch online poker but offered no timetable. Meanwhile, RSI added more poker content to complement its acquisition of RIO.

All of which suggested that RSI was still some time away from launching online poker.

That all changed Saturday when Galfond responded to a tweet asking if he had any player patches left over from RIO’s first run between when the poker pro founded the platform in 2018 and the last date of operations, January 3, 2022.

According to Galfond, the name of the new platform will be Run It Once Poker, Powered by BetRivers. BetRivers is RSI’s brand for online casino and sports betting and is live in 14 US states.

Galfond did not elaborate, but his response strongly suggests that RSI plans to maintain the RIO name in the title of the online poker platform still in development.

That would make sense as RSI will go head-to-head with BetMGM Poker US, PokerStars US, and WSOP US when it does launch online poker. Considering RIO was a popular platform with players — in no small part because Galfond is venerated in the online poker community and RIO was a project he brought to life — retaining the name could attract many former RIO fans back to the fold.

betmgm poker
Last verified: May 2024
Special Signup Offer
100% deposit bonus up to $1000!
  • Up to $75 in MTT tickets on top of the bonus
  • Frequent MTT series with good guarantees
  • Great action around the clock
Please play responsibly. If you or someone you know has a gambling problem and wants help, call 1-800 GAMBLER.

Where Will RIO Poker Launch?

BetRivers runs online casinos in four states — Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. Online poker is also legal in all four states, so it’s reasonable to assume that those four markets will be among the first to see RIO Poker, either under that name or a similar one.

But three states — Michigan, New Jersey, and, in a twist, Delaware (more on that later) — will most likely be first.

All three states are members of the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement (MSIGA), a multi-state online poker compact that also includes Nevada. Since Michigan and New Jersey are both MSIGA members, RSI could combine its player pools in both states. That would lead to shared liquidity and bigger prizes for players.

Since Pennsylvania and West Virginia aren’t members of the compact, RSI doesn’t have an additional incentive to launch there. However, Pennsylvania is a big state — so RSI could decide to follow the likes of BetMGM Poker PA, PokerStars PA, and WSOP PA and run in a segregated but lucrative market. Ontario is an option, too, for the same reason.

That brings us back to Delaware. It’s another MSIGA state, but it’s also the hardest for any operator to launch because the model that the Delaware Lottery adopted ten years ago is one where a primary vendor offers online poker and casino games through branded skins at three racinos in the state.

888 was originally awarded the contract back in 2013 and has submitted for the new contract that begins in November. But RSI also submitted a bid despite not having a live online poker platform in its own right.

If RSI wins the contract in Delaware, the Lottery likely will insist on a schedule for the company to begin offering online poker. Under that scenario, RSI could approach Michigan and New Jersey regulators to see what it needs to do before receiving authorization to launch multi-state poker via MSIGA.

Learn more about Run It Once Poker, Powered by BetRivers — the history, the visionary behind it, and what the future may hold for RIO Poker US and the market for real money online poker in the USA as a whole.