Will Delawareans embrace the new platform from Rush Street Interactive (RSI)? Or will they mourn the loss of 888poker? In this guide, you’ll find everything you need to know about online poker in Delaware.
Last updated: November 1, 2023
If you’ve come to this website looking for information about online poker in Delaware, you’ve come to the right place.
You’ve also come at an unusual time. That’s because Delaware, which has had legal online poker since November 2013, could potentially not have the game on offer for a few weeks or even months in 2024 as the state lottery switches from one igaming operator to another.
But when the dust settles and a new operator launches, Delawareans will be able to resume playing online poker. They will also get to play on what promises to be exciting new software, with several cool features that were wildly popular with poker players when they played an earlier version of the platform in the late 2010s.
Since the new operator will likely seek to launch in other states at the same time as a launch in Delaware, the entire switch-out in the First State could be the impetus for other operators or states to get on-board with multi-jurisdictional online poker.
Stay tuned for updates on the future of online poker in Delaware.
|Online Poker in Delaware|
|📢 Status||Legal, but could become temporarily unavailable for a period of time in 2024.|
|📅 Date Legalized||June 2012|
|👥 State Population||1 Million|
|🔥 Potential DE Poker Rooms||Run It Once Poker DE|
|🏆 Potential DE Tournaments||Run It Once (RIO) did not offer online poker tournaments before its acquisition by RSI, but they will almost certianly be offered by RIO at some point.|
|⚖️ Regulated By||Delaware Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE), with oversight by the Delaware Lottery.|
|🔞 Legal Age to Gamble||21+|
Delaware legalized online poker and casino gaming back in June 2012. Lawmakers in the General Assembly passed HB 333 and it was quickly signed into law by then-Governor Jack Markell. Fittingly, the First State was also the first in the US to legalize online poker.
But it would be more than a year before either vertical got off the ground. The state’s online poker rooms didn’t open until November 2013.
HB 333 empowered the Delaware Lottery to oversee online poker and casino gaming, which would be offered through branded skins of three racinos in the state — Bally’s Dover (formerly Dover Downs), Delaware Park, and Harrington Raceway. After the bill’s passage, the Lottery issued a request for proposal (RFP) for its exclusive igaming contract.
The Lottery ultimately awarded the contract to 888 in 2013 — the UK-based operator launched online casino games in October of that year and launched real money online poker in Delaware the following month. The contract was renewed in 2020 for an additional two years.
Delaware online poker received a huge boost when the state entered into the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement (MSIGA) with Nevada in February 2014. New Jersey joined MSIGA in 2017, followed by Michigan in May 2022. The multi-jurisdictional gaming compact (for poker and some online casino games) allowed 888 to set up the WSOP/888 US Network, which shares player pools across three of the four MSIGA states.
With the initial contract on the verge of expiring, the Lottery issued a new RFP this past January. The Lottery had planned to sign an initial five-year agreement with a primary vendor by April, and for the vendor to go live with its products no later than November 1, 2023.
888 applied for the new RFP and hoped to continue serving as the Lottery’s primary vendor for another decade. But the Lottery revealed in August that 888 withdrew its bid from consideration in May. That left Chicago-based Rush Street Interactive (RSI) as the only applicant for the contract. The Lottery has since made it official that the contract would be awarded to RSI.
RSI has said that it will launch online poker in Delaware.
Poker aficionado Phil Galfond first announced RIO as a project in 2016. The platform launched two years later and won legions of fans. But RIO had trouble attracting enough players to remain open, prompting Galfond to shut the site down in January 2022. RSI bought the platform two months later.
Galfond has said that RSI’s new poker platform will be called “Run It Once Poker, Powered by BetRivers.” BetRivers is RSI’s brand for online casino and sports betting and is live in 15 US states as of June 30, 2023.
Although the platform is still in development, there are five features expected to be included in the RIO poker software:
RIO also ran promotions on a daily basis, raising the value of rewards up to the equivalent of 80% rakeback. Sometimes the rakeback would be as high as 101%. The site also offered direct rakeback promotions, as well as Hold’em and Omaha variants of poker.
Delaware is home to three racinos, facilities that offer horse racing and land-based casino gambling — Bally’s Dover, Delaware Park, and Harrington Raceway. Each is authorized to offer online poker and casino gaming (but not sports betting), with oversight by the Delaware Lottery.
Geographically, the three racinos have a decent spread across the state — an important issue, since Delaware is small in terms of area and only has three counties. Delaware Park is in Stanton, a suburb of Wilmington, the most populous city in the state. Bally’s Dover is just outside the state capital in the middle of the state, and Harrington Raceway is about 20 miles south of Dover. Bally’s Dover and Harrington Raceway are both in Kent County, but Delaware Park is in New Castle County.
Online poker has never been a big moneymaker for the racinos, but revenue has averaged higher since the pandemic. After opening with nearly $107k in revenue in December 2013, the vertical was above $60k for the next four months, but fell to $25k in June 2014 and from that point until the pandemic hit in March 2020 saw monthly revenue on both sides of the $25k for most of that stretch, according to the Delaware Lottery.
Since the pandemic, online poker has fared better — averaging about $40k a month since October 2020.
Formerly known as Dover Downs, Bally’s Dover is the newest of Delaware’s three racinos — welcoming racing fans for the first time in 1969.
Bally’s Dover is at the center of a massive sports and entertainment complex located just north of the state capital, Dover. Bally’s manages (but does not own) a casino, a hotel, and a harness racing track at the center of the complex. Surrounding it all is the Dover Motor Speedway, a NASCAR track owned and operated by Speedway Motorsports.
Horse racing and auto racing both launched in 1969, when the property opened as Dover Downs. The first casino on site, Dover Downs Slots, opened in 1995. First managed by Caesars World, Dover Downs took over the casino’s operations in 2004.
Bally’s, then known as Twin River Worldwide Holdings, acquired the horse track and the casino in 2019. The property was rebranded as Bally’s Dover in November 2021 — part of the company’s overall rebrand of Twin River as Bally’s.
Delaware Park is the state’s first racino. It also has an envious location — it’s not too far from Interstate 95, is close to Wilmington, and is a short drive from Philadelphia as well.
The track first opened in 1937. Years of intense competition from other horse tracks along the East Coast, coupled with a decline in the popularity of horse racing in general, forced the track to briefly close in 1983, the same year it was purchased by the Rickman family. The track rebounded under the Rickmans, and was helped even more when Delaware legalized slot machines in 1996 and table games in 2010.
Online casinos launched in November 2013. The Rickmans sold the track to Toronto-based Clairvest Group Incorporated for $71 million a little more than eight years later — in December 2021.
Harrington Raceway is located on the fairgrounds of the Delaware State Fair. It’s the oldest horse racetrack in the state, having first opened in 1920. A major renovation was completed in 1968.
Like Delaware Park, Harrington struggled with increased competition and a decline in the popularity of horse racing. And like Delaware Park, Harrington also benefited from the introduction of slot machines in 1996 and table games in 2010.
Full House Resorts, a casino developer once bankrolled by former Chrysler chairman Lee Iacocca, and GTech Corporation had a 15-year agreement to manage what had started as a slot parlor in 1996. Harrington took over when the agreement expired in 2011.
Yes, online poker has been legal and available in Delaware since November 2013. But it could become temporarily unavailable next year for a period of time — depending on the actions of the Delaware Lottery and the timing of when Chicago-based Rush Street Interactive (RSI) launches its Run It Once (RIO) poker platform.
The Lottery is changing its exclusive igaming provider from 888 to RSI, which purchased the RIO platform in March 2022. For its part, RSI has suggested that poker could launch in either Q1 or Q2 2024. It’s unclear if the Lottery will require 888 to continue offering poker until RSI is ready with a platform of its own.
Also, consider that RSI is unlikely to launch online poker in just one state — rather, it will likely look to go live in more than one state under the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement (MSIGA) for a coordinated launch. RSI’s flagship brand, BetRivers, is already live with online casino in two MSIGA states: Michigan and New Jersey.
888 is leaving the state because the Delaware Lottery declined to renew its exclusive igaming contract with the UK-based gaming giant. Instead, the Lottery decided to award the contract to RSI. It’s unclear when operations will switch over — the Lottery wanted to make a seamless transition by November 1, but a switch to RSI in Q1 2024 seems more likely.
While RSI hasn’t announced any firm plans, it has hinted that it will launch Run It Once (RIO) poker sometime in early 2024. The operator has suggested that a RIO launch is likely to occur sometime in Q1 or Q2 2024.
Yes, there will very likely be RIO poker tournament action once the platform launches. Although RIO did not support tournament play before RSI acquired it in March 2022, inclusion in a future rollout is considered essential if it’s to compete against the likes of BetMGM Poker, PokerStars, and WSOP — each of which regularly host tournament play.
No, RSI will have an exclusive igaming contract with the Delaware Lottery. Other operators will not be authorized to launch online poker.
Online casino gaming is also legal in Delaware, and since 2013 has also been provided by 888. RSI’s flagship brand, BetRivers, offers online casino gaming in four states — Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.
No, PokerStars and the other top online poker operators in the US — BetMGM and WSOP — are not currently legal in Delaware. Since RSI will hold a contract to serve as the Delaware Lottery’s exclusive igaming provider, no other operators will be allowed to launch in the First State.
Offshore poker sites don’t offer the same consumer protections as legal, regulated sites. Because of this, they are not recommended. Players on offshore sites risk having their identity stolen when they disclose their financial and personal information. US officials warn citizens not to use offshore sites because they have no legal recourse under federal law to collect winnings owed to them.
Information on the dangers of US citizens gambling on illegal offshore sites and how to tell if a poker site is legal is available in this guide on Poker Shield.