Change of Operator Creates a Night-and-Day Difference for Delaware Online Gambling Revenue

The Delaware Lottery has reported its first online casino revenue numbers since relaunching with BetRiversand it is immediately apparent that the market’s poor performance over the past decade was primarily related to its previous operator partner. In the first month since operations changed hands, the state’s iGaming revenue was nearly triple what it had been. Delaware first cracked $1 million in monthly revenue during the 2020 retail casino closures and had never exceeded $1.5 million until now. In January 2024, however, BetRivers net winnings on behalf of the Lottery totaled $3.4 million.

Delaware was the first state to launch legal online casinos in late 2013 and chose 888 Holdings to run them as a monopoly in partnership with the Lottery. However, the state’s per capita revenue has always been pitiful compared to New Jersey, which launched one month later, and other states that came after. While the rest of the iGaming state markets have consistently grown by double-digit percentages each year, Delaware’s annual growth rate has frequently dipped into the negatives, especially in the latter half of 2023.

888’s ten-year contract expired last year, and the Lottery solicited proposals to decide whether to renew with 888 or select a new partner. Aside from 888, only BetRivers’ owner Rush Street Interactive (RSI) answered the call and ultimately won the contract. With it running the state’s three online gambling sites, players benefit from:

  • A much larger catalog of casino games
  • Sports betting
  • A platform that’s consistently among the top five in other iGaming states

On the other hand, they’ve temporarily lost access to online poker. 888 is the technology provider for WSOP.com‘s US operations, so Delaware had been part of that network until the change in operator. RSI owns Run It Once Poker and plans to launch it in the US but has not yet done so.

BetRivers Launch Puts Delaware Mostly Back on Track

Delaware's online casino revenue was less than a third of what it would have been if the market had grown like New Jersey's. Yet a change to BetRivers has just about made up for lost time.It’s hard to compare Delaware directly to any other state because it is unique in several ways:

  • Its population is smaller than any other state currently offering online casino games.
  • It was the only state with online casinos but no sports betting until now
  • It is the only single-operator iGaming state until Rhode Island launches in March

All of those factors would tend to make for a smaller market—even in per capita terms—than other states. However, because Delaware and New Jersey launched around the same time, we can create a benchmark for Delaware by taking New Jersey’s historical monthly growth over the past decade and applying it to Delaware’s initial revenue.

If Delaware had grown at the same pace as New Jersey since January 2014, it would be making over $4 million per month now. So, in hovering around the $1.1 million to $1.3 million range, it had been realizing only about one-quarter to one-third of its potential.

In a single month, the change of operator has brought the state much closer to that benchmark. Slots revenue grew 140% from December to January. More impressively, table games quintupled from only about $200,000 monthly for 888 to over $1 million in January for BetRivers.

By comparison, the loss of about $25,000 per month in poker revenue won’t bother the Lottery very much. That said, the wait continues to inconvenience players in the state.

The question now becomes whether the novelty of the BetRivers product has produced a temporary spike in interest that will fade in the coming months or if there’s even more growth on the way.

Good News for Rhode Island

Aside from RSI and Delaware themselves, this night-and-day difference might be of the greatest interest to Rhode Island. That state is preparing to launch its own single-operator market using a model similar to Delaware’s.

There, the chosen partner is Bally’s, which also runs the state’s retail casinos. There’s also an added complication: a quirk of the state’s laws has made it impossible to offer purely digital (RNG) online table games. Bally’s Rhode Island will be live dealer only to start with.

When the Rhode Island Department of Revenue commissioned Christiansen Capital Advisors (CCA) to project the market’s potential, they expressly excluded Delaware from their calculations, considering it an outlier. Even so, its market performance must have been a cause for some concern. If that weak performance had turned out to be a feature of tiny states with monopoly operators rather than specific to 888, Rhode Island’s revenue might have proven to be only a fraction of what lawmakers were promised.

Granted, the Bally Casino product is not as established as BetRivers, and the lack of RNG table games might be an issue. However, if those prove to be problems, they are solvable ones. A product can always be improved upon. As for the RNG table games, the worst-case scenario is that Rhode Island would need a constitutional amendment to add them.

Either way, the fact that the regulatory model doesn’t appear to be fundamentally flawed is an excellent sign for Rhode Island.

About the Author

Alex Weldon

Alex Weldon

Alex Weldon is an online gambling industry analyst with nearly ten years of experience. He currently serves as Casino News Managing Editor for Bonus.com, part of the Catena Media Network. Other gambling news sites he has contributed to include PlayUSA and Online Poker Report, and his writing has been cited in The Atlantic.
To Top

Get connected with us on Social Media