No, sports betting hasn’t been legal in the state of Delaware since the day during the Revolutionary War when George Washington crossed the Delaware. It just seems that way.
If bettors were offered a prop wager and asked which state was second after Nevada to offer legalized sports betting, it’s doubtful that many would’ve put down a bet on Delaware.
Delaware, however, is the correct answer to this trivia question. That might seem an odd reality, considering that Delaware is not home to a single major-league pro sports franchise, or an NCAA FBS school.
Delaware and Delaware State do play Division I NCAA basketball but these schools are hardly powers. The Delaware Fightin’ Blue Hens have been to five NCAA Tournaments but have never won a game. The Delaware State Hornets reached March Madness in 2005 as a No. 16 seed but were quickly dispatched by top-seeded Duke.
However, state gaming laws prohibit wagering on college teams situated within the state.
Sports betting was legalized in the state in 2009. That’s when the Delaware Lottery was granted a license from the state and enabled to offer multi-sport betting, or parlay cards as the terminology is referred to within the sports gambling industry.
On May 14, 2018, the United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of the state of New Jersey in Murphy vs. NCAA, a decision that overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA). The PASPA was a 1992 federal law that prohibited full-fledged sports betting in every state except Nevada.
Delaware quickly joined Nevada as the second U.S. state to offer legal single-game sports betting. At the time, Delaware was one of four states in the USA that already had some form of sports betting laws in place. The others were Montana, Nevada and Oregon.
The Delaware Sports Lottery, a division of the Delaware State Lottery, operates, oversees and regulates sports betting within the state. Players must be 21 years of age to place a sports wager in Delaware.
Delaware first introduced a state lottery in 1976. It wasn’t doing well but was pulled off life support in 2009 by then-Governor Jack Markell. The introduction of Sports Pick, which allows players to select a minimum of three NFL games in a parlay wager format, injected vitality into the moribund lottery, bringing sports fans out in droves to try their luck and test their football knowledge.
The Sports Pick format offers players teaser and total wagering, as well as a $100,000 jackpot parlay. With this $5 play, bettors must correctly select 15 NFL wagers in order to hit the jackpot amount. Players can also play Quick Pick cards where the computer selects games at random, so it’s possible to win without an iota of knowledge about the NFL.
While it wasn’t offering all of the elements that a player could access via an online sportsbook, what Sports Pick did was position the state to act fast when the opportunity to take sports betting to the next level legally arrived in 2018.
The state had sought to originally make that move in 2009 but at the time was blocked by the courts. When the time finally came, all Delaware needed to do to swiftly get in on the action was to take the wraps off technology that was already in existence, and to re-train employees on the ins and outs of handling all forms of sports bets.
Where To Bet Sports In Delaware
Legal single-game sports betting was officially launched on June 5, 2018 when Delaware Governor John Carney placed the first bet, a $10 wager on the Philadelphia Phillies to defeat the Chicago Cubs in a Major League Baseball game that night.
It proved an astute move by Carney. The Phillies whipped the Cubs 6-1 and he cashed a winning ticket.
Sports betting in the state is offered at Delaware’s three racinos – Delaware Park Casino, Dover Downs and Harrington Raceway and Casino. In the first year of operation, the state collected some $6.7 million in tax money from legal sports betting but Delaware is still leaving plenty of money on the table.
While Delaware was swift to move into the legal sports betting market, the state has dragged its heels in terms of the lucrative mobile and online sports betting market. Although online sports betting was legalized at the same time as in-person sports betting, over two years later, no online or mobile sites are operational in the state.
A Strange Landscape
The lack of online wagering is just another of many conflicting and puzzling facets of Delaware’s gambling industry. Quick off the mark in terms of getting legalized sports betting off the ground, the state has avoided many of the popular gambling entities that drive the market in the vast majority of states across the USA.
Unlike the majority of American States, Delaware has never legalized Tribal Casinos.
The popular world of daily fantasy sports is another form of gaming that remains taboo in Delaware. At this point, there are no active bills in the state legislature seeking to change this, and there doesn’t appear to be an appetite to bring those games into Delaware.
And although online sports betting is a no-no in Delaware, online casino games are offered within the state.