Delaware was one of the first states to adopt sports betting in 2018 after the Supreme Court ruled that states could legislate sports betting in their own jurisdictions.
Yet despite evidence of the potential that mobile sports betting could offer to state revenues the Delaware Lottery, which has the authority to take no deposit bonus codes sports betting mobile in the state, does not seem to be planning to bring mobile betting to the state any time soon.
Delaware and Sports Betting
In June 2018 Delaware became the first state to cash in on the May 2018 Supreme Court decision that overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA). PASPA, which was passed by Congress in 1992, effectively barred states that did not already offer sports betting from passing their own laws to legalize it. Within months after its repeal states began to scramble to take advantage of the new opportunities that sports betting offered.
Delaware actually had a head start in the sports betting field. Since, together with Nevada, Delaware had some sort of sports betting operating before the 1992 PASPA Act, PASPA didn’t outlaw sports betting in either Nevada or Delaware. But while Nevada chose to allow a full sports betting suite to operate via its Las Vegas and Reno casinos, only limited sports betting action was offered in Delaware including parlays for NFL games.
Delaware tried to make sports betting a bit more accessible in 2009 when the state passed legislation to expand sports betting services from parlays to single-game wagers. However, the scope of PASPA determined that the expansion would be illegal.
The bill itself was never withdrawn. Thus sports betting could be activated immediately in Delaware as soon as SCOTUS struck down PASPA.
In June 2018 the three Delaware land-based casinos running gaming activities, including sports betting, were able to start accepting single-game wagers. They included Delaware Park, Harrington Raceway and Dover Downs. To inaugurate the new sports betting Delaware governor John Carney placed the first sports bet on June 5th 2018.
Today, FanDuel is Dover Downs Hotel and Casino’s and Harrington Raceway and Casino’s sports betting service provider and Scientific Games, an iGaming company that supplies sports gaming facilities, is the sports betting service provider for these venues.
Despite getting in on the ground floor, Delaware was cautious about the new opportunity. To date, new sports betting facilities have not been licensed in Delaware and mobile gaming has not been launched. The existing three racinos are bringing in revenue -- $13.3 million in December 2019 -- but the Delaware Lottery, which administers the sports betting and other gambling venues, is not rushing to expand the options.
Delaware Lottery Director Vernon Kirk is clear that the Lottery hasn’t dismissed mobile options in Delaware. “We are certainly studying this very carefully,” he said. “It’s a very complicated issue in Delaware with our current legislated sports betting structure that includes the state’s three casinos and our retailer network, all operated by the Lottery.
“There are also substantial additional costs associated with mobile that we are not currently incurring (i.e. geolocation, ID verification, payment vendors & processors, 24/7 customer support, fraud monitoring, mobile platform fees, etc.).
“On the revenue side, it’s just as unclear regarding the impact that mobile will have on sports betting in Delaware. We have to balance mobile versus our very large parlay card retailer handle. Will we do better with more volume (a finite number considering the size of DE), but a lower hold if parlay card participation by the retailer network declines precipitously (a strong possibility)? However, having said all of that, in order to keep pace with the competition mobile sports betting of some form or another in the future is inevitable, we just don’t have a timetable at the moment.”
Are Delaware Parlays Enough?
“Our parlay card business has been exceptional,” said Kirk. “We attribute that to two primary factors. First, because Delaware had three-game (minimum) NFL parlay wagering since 2009, our customers were very familiar with that type of wagering and really enjoyed it. Secondly, with the restriction to NFL games only removed, we added college football to our cards. That gave bettors a lot more games to select from and retailers the opportunity to sell cards for Saturday as well as Sunday.
“We continued our three-game minimum for parlay card wagering even after we launched full-scale sports betting, and our football parlay card hold has been nothing short of phenomenal! College and pro football card handle in 2018 was $38.2 mm with a hold of $15.9 mm (+41.6%) and in 2019 the handle was $32.8 mm with a hold of $15.5 mm (+47.3%).”
However, Delaware operators are wary of increased competition from neighboring states such as New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
Both Pennsylvania and New Jersey offer mobile gambling options and Delaware operators are watching. Handle in Delaware for the last 7 months of 2018, after the U.S. Supreme Court widened the door for sports betting, was $115.3 million. 2019 handle (for all 12 months) was $132.1 million, a disappointing decrease. Declines in monthly handle were felt both at Delaware racinos and at retailers.
Kirk is trying to stay optimistic. “We anticipated the handle would be down this year, given the regional competition having a full year to catch-up to Delaware being the first state to launch full-scale sports betting, post the Supreme Court decision. The decline in casino football betting was -27.7% ($10.2 mm). The biggest impact was NJ, but by this past year PA had also moved into the market.”
Kirk is almost certainly eyeing the New Jersey mobile gaming numbers where, he must assume, some of Delaware’s revenues are going. In November Atlantic City casino sportsbooksand racetracks took in $75.9 million in bets. That’s more than half of what was bet legally in Delaware throughout the entire 2019.
Even more distressing from Delaware’s point of view, there are more than a dozen legal mobile sportsbooks in New Jersey and they took in $486.8 million which gave New Jersey $32.9 million for the state in November alone. That compares to $19.6 million that Delaware collected in all of 2019.
Even accounting for New Jersey’s higher population and sports betting income from New Yorkers who travel to NJ to place bets that are illegal in their own state, Delaware is likely considering what it can do to boost its own sports betting income.