Legalizing sports betting is a major topic in many states across the country, but not in the state of Delaware. Delaware was the first state to take advantage of the Supreme Court’s lifting of the federal ban on sports betting, and plenty of states have followed their lead. Most people won’t recognize Delaware as a great sports state with their lack of professional teams, but there are still plenty of die-hard fans to be found. Delaware is a part of the Northeast section of the country, and there are plenty of terrific professional sports teams surrounding them.
Sports fans in Delaware have plenty of rooting interest in several sports, but they also have an unmatched passion for betting on sports. There are still some improvements to be made to their current legislation that can expand the sports betting scene in the state of Delaware, but they were quick to recognize the earning potential of legalizing sports betting. Let’s take a look at the current sports betting scene in the state of Delaware as well as some of the biggest teams and leagues that will help drive the sports betting scene in the state.
Delaware became the first state to offer legal US sports betting after the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) was overturned on May 14, 2018. Governor John Carney places the state’s first legal sports bet on June 5, 2018, at Delaware Park.
Delaware has offered pro-football parlay betting for years. Delaware was one of four states, along with Oregon, Montana, and Nevada that had sports betting laws on the books, even before the PASPA strike down.
Status of Sports Betting in Delaware
Delaware actually had a huge head start on the rest of the country as they were one of five states that were exempted from the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA). Even though the state was exempt from this law, fans were limited to placing basic parlay type bets on NFL games only. This would be fine for the die-hard NFL fans, but it became pretty clear that sports bettors wanted more options and more flexibility in their bets. When the Supreme Court lifted the federal ban on sports betting, it took the state of Delaware less than a month to pass new legislation that changed the rules of sports betting across the state, and got the rest of the country talking.
Even though legislation was passed to open up the sports betting scene in Delaware, there is a large percentage of people that would tell you that it’s not good enough. The current legislation does allow for single game bets to be placed across a multitude of sports, but fans are limited to where they can place the bets. Delaware is currently only allowing the three major casinos across the state to take these type of bets, and all of the betting is done through the state of Delaware lottery. There are some retail locations throughout the state that have applied for the ability to become a sportsbook, but they are only authorized to take parlay bets on college football and NFL games.
The reason that most sports bettors in Delaware want new legislation is the fact that mobile and online betting is not yet legal in the state. Placing a mobile or online bet is much easier than actually going to a physical location, but so far nothing is in the works to add this type of betting in the state. Other states have included this type of betting in their new legislation, and those states are seeing great results and revenue from this inclusion. Delaware reported that their betting handle was $10.5 million in the month of March 2019, which is far less than the surrounding states with mobile betting. Look for this new type of legislation to be on the table in the coming years as the state realizes their earning potential can be much greater.
How Delaware Sports Betting Became Legal
In 2009, Delaware tried to offer sports betting in 2009 but ultimately failed when a court decision blocked that effort. Director of the State Lottery, Vernon Kirk, said that Delaware was prepared to offer sports betting as soon as the PASPA ruling was overturned, all the state really needed to do was just “dust off existing technology and re-train employees on how to handle sports bets.”
Delaware’s Sports Lottery first began in 1976 but never really took off. In 2009, then-Governor Jack Markell brought it back from the dead. The Sports Lottery limited bettors to parlays of at least three NFL games.
Where Can I Bet In Delaware?
All three of the state’s “racinos” are open for sports betting. Racinos are racetracks that also have gambling facilities, including slots and table games.
The Delaware State Lottery is under contract with Scientific Games, who is a partner of William Hill US, for their sports wagering offerings.
Over 100 retail locations in the state have taken wagers for the NFL parlay that the state lottery offers. As of now, those locations will not be able to take on full sportsbook wagers like the racinos.
According to Kirk, “the retail locations will be dealing strictly with college and pro football parlay cards and that’s all for now.”
Delaware’s three racinos are:
- Delaware Park Casino
- Dover Downs
- Harrington Raceway and Casino
Since the state of Delaware has placed such strict limitations on sports betting throughout the state, there is no doubt that the three casinos are the best places for sports fans to bet. The biggest and most popular casino in the state of Delaware is located in the capital city of Dover. Dover Downs Hotel and Casino is a hotspot for sports betting in the state, and they see plenty of action for major sporting events. Delaware Park Casino is located in Wilmington, Delaware and is another very popular spot in the state to place bets on sporting events. The third and final casino in the state of Delaware is the Harrington Raceway and Casino located inside of the city of Harrington. These three casinos are the only spots in the state of Delaware that have the ability to take single game bets on a variety of sports, and will remain the best place to bet until further legislation is passed.
There are other places to bet in the state of Delaware but each spot comes with limitation. There are retail spots throughout the state that offer sports betting, but are limited to parlay betting on college football and NFL games. Football fans might find these locations suitable for their sports betting needs, but fans of other sports will need to visit the casinos. Online betting has yet to be rolled out in the state of Delaware, but sports bettors still have the ability to utilize offshore sportsbooks. People all across the country have offshore sportsbooks as their only options when it comes to sports betting, and people in Delaware might still take advantage of this opportunity as well.
Delaware Sports Betting Revenue
Delaware sports betting revenue is based on a revenue-sharing model. Scientific Games, which is the central system that supplies the terminals and controls all the risk management, receives 12.5% of total revenue.
The remaining revenue is split up as follows:
- State – Receives 50 percent of the remaining revenue
- Casinos or “Racinos” – Receives 40 percent of the remaining revenue
- Horse Racing Industry – Receives the final 10 percent of the remaining revenue as a supplement for purses.
Since the state has started taking bets in June of 2018, revenue has been a rollercoaster on a month-by-month basis.
- June 2018: Total Handle – $7 million; Total Revenue – $1 million; Hold % – 14.3%
- July 2018: Total Handle – $8.2 million; Total Revenue – $527,140; Hold % – 6.4%
- August 2018: Total Handle – $7.7 million; Total Revenue – $706,000; Hold % – 9.2%
- September 2018: Total Handle – $16.8 million; Total Revenue – $3.15 million; Hold % – 18.8%
- October 2018: Total Handle – $14.7 million; Total Revenue – $448,578; Hold % – 3.5%
- November 2018: Total Handle – $16.3 million; Total Revenue – $1.3 million; Hold % – 8.0%
- December 2018: Total Handle – $13.6 millions; Total Revenue – $2.2 million; Hold % – 16.2%
- 2018 Year End Totals: Total Handle – $84.3 million; Total Revenue – $9.33 million; Hold % – 11%
Delaware finished 2018 with a hold percentage more than double what Nevada has traditionally held over the years (about 5%). Although Delaware’s handle and revenue can not rival Nevada, a hold percentage of more than twice what was expected has Delaware officials happy.
Sports and Teams That Will Drive Betting in the State of Delaware
The state of Delaware isn’t fortunate enough to have any major professional sports teams, but they are surrounded by terrific teams from other states. Most of the states that have legalized gambling have the benefit of having popular teams helping to drive the new industry, but that won’t be the case in Delaware. Sports is still a huge deal in this state, and sports betting has been popular in Delaware for quite some time. Residents of Delaware are forced to root for teams from other states, but football is without a doubt the most popular sport in this state.
The National Football League has become the most popular league in the country, and the folks in Delaware are big fans as well. The most popular NFL team in Delaware is the Philadelphia Eagles, but the Washington Redskins have plenty of fans in this state as well. The NFL has done a great job of aligning themselves with the sports betting industry, and that has really helped drive sports betting in Delaware. Betting on NFL games in parlay fashion has been in place in Delaware for close to 10 years, and there is no doubt that many people are placing bets on games featuring teams from the NFC East. Don’t be fooled by the lack of professional teams in the state of Delaware; there are still plenty of die-hard fans in the Blue Hen State.
Delaware Sports Betting Outlook
With neighboring states Pennsylvania and New Jersey taking sports as well, Delaware doesn’t get the same out of state traffic as its neighbors. Washington D.C. has recently passed a law to allow sports betting in the district as well.
Maryland is the only neighboring state to Delaware that doesn’t currently have a legal sports betting system in place. Although, it is expected that Maryland will be looking to move forward with the legal sports betting process sometime in 2019.
Delaware ranks 45th in the nation in population, which means it has the least amount of residents of any state with legal sports betting as of early 2019. Therefore, Delaware’s numbers in terms of handle and revenue will be significantly lower than that of other states with legal sports betting.
New Jersey already has online and mobile sports betting in place. Pennsylvania is expected to have online and mobile sports betting operational by spring 2019. As of now, there are no reports of Delaware planning to implement mobile sports betting in the state.
Among all of the states that have legalized sports betting, Delaware may have the toughest road ahead. The Northeastern region of the United States is saturated with states that either already has legalized sports betting, or are on the verge of doing so.
A small population, no mobile betting platform, and neighboring states with bigger sports betting markets are all variables that could cause Delaware to see a significant drop in revenue in 2019.