Tuesday was a momentous day in United States gambling history as Delaware became the first state outside of Nevada to offer legal, regulated single-game sports betting. The first bets were placed at the state’s three race racetrack casinos – Delaware Park, Dover Downs Hotel & Casino, and Harrington Raceway & Casino – at 1:30pm.
The new sports betting industry was made possible by the United States Supreme Court’s overturn of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA), a law which made sports wagering illegal. State that had legal casino gambling for the ten years before PASPA were given a year to decide whether or not they wanted to be grandfathered in, but only Nevada, Oregon, Montana, and yes, Delaware opted-in. Nevada, though, is the only one that has had traditional, single-game sports betting. Delaware, until now, has required that bets be a minimum of a three-team parlay.
When PASPA was overturned, Rick Geisenberger, Secretary of the Delaware Department of Finance, said that Delaware already had sports betting plans in place for months and that the state anticipated a launch within weeks. It took less than a month.
Betting Fever Has Started
Delaware Governor John Carney placed the first bet at Dover Downs, putting $10 on the Philadelphia Phillies, according to Delaware Online. Assuming that was for Tuesday night’s game, he profited $19 (based on the Vegas sportsbook consensus – the Delaware books don’t have odds posted online, so I don’t know exactly what the payout was), as the Phillies beat the Chicago Cubs, 6-1, as the underdog.
Carney said that the goal is to get more people visiting Delaware from out-of-state and, of course, spending their entertainment dollars at the casinos and sportsbooks (among other places). He noted that the state’s gambling revenue has decreased 20 percent from 2005, from $250 million per year to $200 million.
New Jersey was the state responsible for the case that the Supreme Court eventually ruled upon and it is expected that the Garden State won’t be far behind Delaware, as it has been fighting for sports betting for years. Other states such as Pennsylvania and Maryland are also expected to ramp things up in the near future, creating quite the sports betting bloc in the mid-Atlantic.
Sports Betting Easier Than Before
As mentioned, Delaware did have sports betting before June 5th, but gamblers could not wager on individual games, as Governor Carney did today. Instead, they had to bet on parlays of at least three teams, meaning all teams in the wager had to win for the bet to be a winner (exceptions are made for games that are pushes, but we won’t get into that right now). Bets could be made, though, at authorized retailers in the state, not just casinos.
Now, people can bet on a host of sports, including baseball, football, basketball, hockey, golf, boxing, and auto racing. College sports will be on the board, as well, except for games that involve Delaware-based teams. The Delaware Lottery, which has authority over sports betting, has posted a “how-to” guide on its site that explains all the different types of bets in the different sports.