Let The Games Begin: Delaware Starts Taking Sports Bets

Written By Kim Yuhl on June 6, 2018 - Last Updated on March 25, 2022
Game pieces on the start circle

When the Supreme Court overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA) mid-May, most people assumed that New Jersey would be the second state to accept legalized single-game sports wagers. Nevada, of course, was the first.

Well, you know what they say about assuming.

On Tuesday, the board at Dover Downs in Delaware lit up like “a Christmas tree,” according to Legal Sports Report’s Eric Ramsey.

Gov. John Carney stepped up to the counter to place the first single-game sports bet in the aptly-nicknamed First State.

In case you are wondering, the first ticket sold became the first winning ticket. The Philadelphia Phillies bested the Chicago Cubs by a score of 6-1.

Delaware gets the spotlight, for a few days at least. Meanwhile, New Jersey is still trying to get its regulations passed.

How Delaware beat New Jersey to the starting line

Before New Jersey took the NCAA to court to earn the right to offer sports betting in the state, Delaware tried to challenge PASPA in court.

The Delaware lottery has been accepting parlay wagers since 2009 and was exempt from PASPA. It has been looking for a way to offer a full range of sports betting options ever since.

Delaware lost its fight and by now you know that New Jersey won its. However, it wasn’t looking that good for New Jersey either. At least until the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case.

The Garden State lost every battle along the way, until the last one. And that last one was the one that won the war, opening the door to legalized sports betting across the nation.

In a press conference at Dover Downs, Secretary of Finance Rick Geisenberger said:

The Carney administration and the casinos have been preparing for the possibility that the Supreme Court would invalidate PASPA… for the past six months.

We have been assembling training materials, updating and testing our software — we even developed some logo options for Sports Pick, and that list goes on and on. So when the court did take action a few weeks ago, we moved very quickly to put our plan into place…

Three weeks after Supreme Court’s decision, Delaware is finally able to accept single-game sports bets. The availability to place parlay wagers will continue across the state at Delaware Lottery retailers.

To participate in full-scale sports betting, however, a visit to one of Delaware’s three casinos is necessary:

  • Delaware Park
  • Dover Downs Hotel & Casino
  • Harrington Raceway & Casino
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Other states racing to offer sports betting

There appear to be a plethora of headlines about potential sports betting legislation and special summer sessions to discuss the topic.

Don’t expect a stampede of states to launch sports betting quickly, though. Introducing sports betting can be complicated. It may require the renegotiation of tribal casino compacts, determining tax rates that often seem high and establishing an oversight process.

Some states, like Delaware and New Jersey, are not starting from scratch. While others will most likely look to Nevada and New Jersey to help them build a foundation.

Besides New Jersey, other states that are moving in the right direction are:

Oregon and Rhode Island seem to be following in Delaware’s footsteps by readying their state’s lottery to offer sports betting.

Delaware and its history of being “the first”

In the press conference, Carey explained how Delaware earned its nickname by becoming the first state to join the Union.

“We were the whole country for about a week,” he said, “and then the rest of the states joined us.”

Of course, this leads right into Carney celebrating Delaware’s status as being the first once again.

“We’re delighted to be first again today in allowing official betting on sports activities across our country.

While Delaware is not the first to offer sports betting, they are the first since the Supreme Court overturned PASPA. And for now, that is a big deal.

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Kim Yuhl

Kim Yuhl is a freelance writer and blogger who writes about poker culture and the online gambling industry. A part-time member of the poker media since 2013, Kim recently sold her marketing business to write full-time while traveling around the world. You can learn more about her work and travels at kimyuhl.com.

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