Delaware has the nickname “The First State” thanks to having been the first of the 13 colonies to ratify the US Constitution. The nickname fits for other reasons, too, including with regard to sports betting. Today, Delaware sports betting is available in each of the state’s three casinos. While online sports betting is also legal in the state, no operators have actually launched yet.
But it’s not like the addition of sports betting is a complete change for the state. While Nevada was essentially the only state for many decades where sports betting was legal, there were a few states still allowed to offer limited types of wagering on sports. Delaware was one of those states. Its Sports Pick parlay cards offered by the Delaware Lottery are still popular even though single-game wagering is alive and well.
Delaware was the first state to legalize online gambling in 2012. And, contrary to popular belief, it was also the first state to legalize sports betting after the US Supreme Court‘s 2018 ruling against the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act lifted the federal ban.
Here’s an overview of the background and current status of Delaware sports betting, including information about what bettors can expect when wagering on sports in the state.
Is sports betting legal in Delaware?
Yes, sports betting is legal in Delaware. Customers must place single-game wagers in-person at the state’s three racinos: Delaware Park Racetrack, Dover Downs, Harrington Raceway & Casino. Delaware’s Sports Pick parlay cards are also available during the NFL season each year.
Are there any online sportsbooks in Delaware?
No, there are no sportsbook apps in Delaware. Although online sports betting is legal, for the moment, there is no definitive timeline on when it will launch. The state’s three racinos are partnered with William Hill to offer retail single-game wagering. Should online betting ever emerge, it is expected William Hill will be the primary online sports betting platform.
Do I have to be in Delaware to bet online?
It’s safe to assume that when and if online sports betting launches, geolocation software will be implemented to make sure all bets are placed within the state. For now, since there is no online sports betting in Delaware, users cannot place any bets online.
Who regulates Delaware sports betting?
The Delaware Lottery oversees all sports betting in the state, as well as other types of gambling and online gambling. Delaware online casinos and any future online sportsbooks would also be under the DE Lottery’s management.
What is the legal age to bet on sports in Delaware?
Those wanting to place a bet at any of the Delaware sportsbooks must be at least 21 years old. Meanwhile, the minimum age to bet on horse races in Delaware is 18 years old.
How Delaware sports betting works
Following the repeal of PASPA, there were no legal obstacles preventing Delaware from offering single-game wagering. Under its state law passed in 2009, the state could authorize betting on professional and collegiate sports, with the exception of in-state schools.
The Delaware tax system is quite different than in other jurisdictions in the US. After winners are paid, the tax system is broken down as follows:
- Scientific Games: 12.5%
- State share: 50%
- Casinos: 40%
- Horse racing purses: 10%
In 2012, the Delaware Gaming Competitiveness Act became law, allowing the Delaware Lottery to start selling lottery tickets online as well as to offer online casino games, including online poker, and online sports betting.
So why have no Delaware online sportsbooks launched as yet? Delaware Lottery officials have indicated they will take a renewed look at sports betting in the near future, including revisiting the idea of introducing web-based and mobile options for bettors. But no firm plans or dates have been officially announced.
In the meantime, customers can travel to NJ or PA to place bets online, but they have to download NJ sportsbooks apps or PA sportsbooks in order to do so. And of course, the lottery’s Sports Pick option is still available.
What is Sports Pick?
The NFL parlay cards — aka the Sports Pick cards — remain quite popular among bettors given their history in DE. Broken down into its simplest form, Sports Pick cards are parlay cards available at all sports lottery locations across the state. It is limited to football, however. Sports Pick started in 2009 and remained the only option to bet on sports in the state until 2018. With so many years in existence, the lottery parlay cards are a big part of the state.
Lines for each week’s games are posted every Monday at the three sportsbooks and lottery retailers. There are a handful of Sports Pick cards available including:
- Early Bird Card
- Half-Point Card
- Teaser Card
- Super Teaser Card
If your bet wins and is under $600, you can redeem your prize at any lottery retailer or sportsbook in the state. Winning tickets with a value of more than $600 must be redeemed at one of the three sportsbooks or the Delaware Lottery office.
Lastly, winning tickets can be mailed to:
- Delaware State Lottery
- 1575 McKee Road, Suite 102
- Dover, DE 19904
Suffice it to say, Sports Pick parlay cards aren’t going to go away anytime soon. If you want to do full-scale sports betting, visit one of the racinos.
Where can I place a bet in Delaware?
As noted, the three Delaware racetracks were already accepting sports wagers prior to the repeal of PASPA in 2018, albeit in a limited fashion. Since then, each has expanded its offerings with larger, Vegas-style sportsbooks.
Bettors must go to one of three racinos in order to place their wagers. Each racino is partnered with William Hill through an agreement with the Delaware Lottery.
- Delaware Park Racetrack (Wilmington): Open Monday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. The site includes sportsbook windows and self-service kiosks available on the racetrack side of the property. Sportsbook line: (302) 994-2521
- Dover Downs (Dover): Open Monday through Friday noon to 10 p.m. and Saturday to Sunday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. For the moment, due to COVID-19, there is no seating permitted inside the sportsbooks. Sportsbook line: (302) 674-4600
- Harrington Raceway & Casino (Harrington): Murphy’s Race and Sports Book is open daily 11 a.m. to midnight. The property features over 50 big screen TVs. Sportsbook line: (302) 398-4920
Popular sports to bet on in Delaware
The Delaware retail sportsbooks give bettors a variety of sports to bet on, both professional and collegiate. Football is by far the most popular sport for betting, with the sportsbooks even opening an hour earlier on the weekends during the season.
Sports on which bettors can place wagers in Delaware include:
Betting on pro sports teams in Delaware
As one of the country’s smallest states, Delaware has no professional sports teams of its own.
There are several major cities with pro franchises located near Delaware, however, including Baltimore and Washington, DC, to the south and Philadelphia to the north. New Jersey and New York aren’t far away, either, with their pro franchises playing in East Rutherford and Newark (NJ), as well as Brooklyn, Buffalo and New York City (NY).
These cities’ teams therefore have many fans in Delaware. Residents of New Castle County in the north typically pull for the Philadelphia 76ers, Philadelphia Phillies, Philadelphia Eagles and Philadelphia Flyers, all of whom play home games about a half-hour drive away.
Betting on college teams in Delaware
Delaware has a couple of universities with teams competing at the Division I level — the Delaware Fightin’ Blue Hens and the Delaware State Hornets and Lady Hornets. However Delaware’s sports betting law is such that sportsbooks are not allowed to accept bets on games involving Delaware schools.
Again, schools from surrounding states tend to draw support as well as betting action from Delaware. These include:
- Penn State
What types of sports bets can I make in Delaware?
The three Delaware sportsbooks offer the same variety of sports wagering opportunities as sportsbooks in other states.
- Moneyline — “straight up” bets on a team to win.
- Spread — bets on a game’s point spread; e.g., for a bet on the Philadelphia 76ers as a 4.5-point favorite (-4.5), they must win by five or more for the bet to be a winner.
- Over/under — also called totals bets, these are bets on the total number of points that both teams will combine to score in a game.
- Parlays — a type of bet that combines multiple bets as one, with each “leg” having to win for the parlay to win; “half-point parlay cards” (for which all spreads feature half-points, e.g., -3.5, +7.5, etc.) are a favorite in Delaware.
- Round robin — a type of parlay betting involving multiple parlay bets that allows bettors to win partial payouts even if one leg loses.
- Teasers — bets in which the point spread is altered or “teased,” thereby creating a different payout; Delaware sportsbooks offer regular teasers, super teasers and reverse teasers (the difference having to do with how much the spread is altered).
- Prop bets — short for “proposition bets,” these are wagers on particular events within a game, such as how many points a particular player will score or which team will score the first touchdown.
Delaware sports betting history
The Delaware Lottery was first established in 1975. During the 1976 football season, the Delaware Lottery accepted bets on three-team NFL parlays. That experiment with sports betting didn’t last long, but it had some meaningful consequences.
In 1992, came the federal law prohibiting states other than Nevada from offering sports betting, the aforementioned PASPA. However, thanks to Delaware’s earlier dalliance with some form of sports betting, it was one of a few states granted an exception from the ban.
That exception allowed Delaware’s three racetracks to begin accepting sports wagers on NFL games starting in 2009. Again, only parlay bets (i.e., no bets on individual games) were allowed, although with a number of added variations. After a few years, Super Bowl futures were added, as well.
During the 2010s, Delaware attempted to challenge the law in order to expand its sports betting offerings. None of those efforts succeeded, however, until the US Supreme Court ruled in May 2018 that PASPA was unconstitutional. Within a week, Delaware had already legalized expanded sports betting, becoming the first state to accept a single-game bet. A fitting historical moment for a state that was the first to ratify the US Constitution.