Rush Street Interactive (RSI) has acquired and onboarded the Run It Once Poker (RIO) team and platform in a cash-and-stock deal valued at $5.8 million and plans to integrate the online poker platform into its current offering in the vertical.
During an earnings call on Wednesday to discuss Q4 2021 and the full-year 2021, Richard Schwartz, CEO of RSI, said the company “really was impressed” by RIO’s management team and its founder, poker professional Phil Galfond.
“Our goal is to improve upon the tremendous foundation and user experience, the RIO team has created and, over time, integrate the poker vertical into our proven platform when the market is ready,” Schwartz said. He did not provide a timeline or estimation for how long that integration would take.
Schwartz said the acquisition was being funded with $3.3 million in cash and $2.5 million in stock. The CEO added that there would be no near-term impact on the RSI revenue and that the acquisition would result in “modest amounts” of additional general and administrative costs.
It was unclear how many RIO employees had been onboarded. Still, the CEO made sure to give them a shout-out during the call: “Welcome to all of you at RIO. We’re happy to have you join the RSI family.”
Galfond, who shut down RIO’s real money online poker site just two months earlier, confirmed the partnership with RSI on Twitter on Wednesday.
In a blog post on December 30, 2021, Galfond cited declining traffic over the preceding 18 months as one dominant factor for shutting down the site after its three years in operation. Another impetus was to focus on entry into regulated markets in the US. The RIO site was shuttered four days later, on January 3.
On Wednesday, Galfond also disclosed via Twitter that he had been in discussions “with many potential partners over the last 18 months,” and added that RSI was selected for their “honesty, integrity, fairness, and transparency” — the same core values upon which he had built RIO.
At the time that the RIO site was taken down, pokerfuse had identified eight potential partners that could help it enter the US regulated online poker market. Among them was RSI’s BetRivers brand, which was cited as a potential suitor interested in “broaden[ing] its iGaming presence in the US.”
How Will RIO Poker Be Branded in the US?
RSI stands out from most of its rivals in that it has two brands in the online casino and sports betting verticals — BetRivers and SugarHouse. That makes for a longer list of potential branding options for poker.
BetRivers Casino is currently live in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia, while RSI’s SugarHouse Casino operates in New Jersey. Potential names for a new poker product include “BetRivers Poker,” “SugarHouse Poker,” or something that retains the RIO name, such as “Run It Once Poker, powered by BetRivers.” The new poker room could also be launched under the familiar moniker of “Run It Once Poker.”
RSI declined to comment on whether it is currently planning to launch an online poker product in the US or to confirm whether there was even a timeframe in which to do so. It was also unclear if RSI would launch in all four states where its online casino product is live or if it would launch in some states but not others.