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.
How Sports Betting Became Legal In Delaware
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
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.
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.