BetRivers Poker PA Coming Soon? Signs Point To Yes

Written By Hill Kerby on July 10, 2024
Digital poker cards appear in a hologram over an open hand. BetRivers appears poised to offer online poker and Pennsylvania is a strong bet to be the first place it launches.

BetRivers Poker has been preparing to launch in Pennsylvania since 2022, when its parent company, Rush Street Interactive, made its first move toward entering the market.

The wait could end sometime this year for Pennsylvanians. It began when RSI purchased RunItOnce Poker, a site that operated for three years in Europe but shut down in February 2022, a month before the RSI deal.

Upon its launch, BetRivers Poker PA will become the fifth legal online poker site in the Keystone State.

A case for BetRivers Poker’s launch in PA

Since launching in November 2019, Pennsylvania online poker has represented one of the most attractive markets in the US. It quickly became the top market, offering some of the largest tournament prize pools nationwide.

It no longer boasts the largest US market after Michigan overtook it in November 2023, a direct result of interstate poker entering that market in January 2023. However, Pennsylvania’s numbers are still respectable. PokerStars PA’s PASCOOP offered $2.25 million in guaranteed prize pools in April 2024, compared to $3 million for the combined markets of Michigan and New Jersey.

Pennsylvania’s online poker market remains ring-fenced, but a recent bill could allow for interstate poker by the end of the year. If passed, PA could reclaim the top spot.

Those conditions present a ripe opportunity for BetRivers to enter a market with its best days ahead. Rivers already has an established brand in Pennsylvania with two brick-and-mortar casinos, an online casino and an online sportsbook. The online brands operate as BetRivers Casino, the same umbrella under which the prospective poker site will fall.

Why BetRivers will go live in PA first

The remaining states BetRivers will target all participate in an interstate compact, the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement. Launching in multiple states, such as Michigan and New Jersey, involves more regulatory red tape. That could give Pennsylvania a leg up on getting BetRivers poker first.

Aside from Michigan and New Jersey, BetRivers assumed the Delaware Lottery’s sole online poker license in August 2023. The former operator, 888poker, had shared cash game pools with in Nevada and New Jersey but offered no tournaments. 

Delaware residents have been without an online poker operator since last August. BetRivers Poker will eventually fill that void, but a coordinated multi-state launch adds more variables to the equation.

Lastly, West Virginia joined the MSIGA in 2023, four years after it legalized online poker. No site has gone live, but reported in February that its first site(s) will launch sometime in 2024.

Given that the Mountain State has fewer than 1.8 million residents, its only feasibility is to engage with other markets from day one.

The most likely scenario is that BetRivers Poker rolls out a coordinated four-state launch for these markets, which takes longer to come to fruition than a single-state launch in Pennsylvania.

BetRivers Poker increases its visibility

BetRivers Poker chose to rebrand RunItOnce Poker after the purchase, most likely for two reasons:

  • BetRivers’ brand recognition in multiple verticals
  • BetRivers Poker separates the brand from RunItOnce, a poker training website founded and still operated by Phil Galfond.

Galfond, a longtime world-class professional, founded RunItOnce Poker before selling it to RSI for $5.8 million. He is an ambassador for BetRivers Poker.

Last week, Galfond announced on X that he was playing his first World Series of Poker Main Event in five years. He participated on a featured stream table and wore a BetRivers Poker patch on his chest.

RSI has also ramped up BetRivers Poker’s presence elsewhere. RSI owns Poker Night In America and regularly displays advertisements for BetRivers Poker on its regularly streamed cash games.

Could BetRivers Poker opt out of PA?

Of course, we must consider both sides of the argument regarding a BetRivers Poker PA launch.

The growth of the MSIGA market is undeniable, and any future states that legalize online poker will be incentivized to enter straight into the agreement. In other words, the train is leaving the station.

Pennsylvania can still jump on board, which can happen by the end of the year.

If RSI is uncertain about the matter, it could wait to see if PA joins the MSIGA. Otherwise, it would need to gain regulatory approval twice in Pennsylvania: once while it’s ring-fenced and again for MSIGA approval.

Regardless of the path, RSI must compete with three established operators: PokerStars, and BetMGM Poker. As the new kid on the block, it won’t have the same pull as the other three.

Still, Pennsylvania will benefit from another online poker operator, as will the other markets that BetRivers Poker enters. In the best-case scenario, this adds even more pressure for Pennsylvania to adopt interstate poker, causing a winning chain reaction for everyone involved.

Photo by Shutterstock
Hill Kerby Avatar
Written by
Hill Kerby

Hill Kerby comes from a background of poker, sports and psychology. He brings all of that expertise into his writing, where he contributes content in the growing legalized sports betting, online casino and gambling industry.

View all posts by Hill Kerby
Privacy Policy