Delaware was the first state to launch sports betting, including single-game bets and future bets, outside of Nevada shortly after the end of PASPA.
Delaware moved forward after the court decision so quickly that it beat New Jersey – which fought the case that ended PASPA – to opening its sports betting operation. The state’s three casinos started taking bets in June 2018.
Delaware is among the small group of states that previously already had a form of legal sports betting during the PASPA era.
In 2009, the state passed a law permitting the lottery to offer expanded forms of its parlay product. Federal law stood in the way until May, when the US Supreme Court repealed PASPA and put the decision back in states’ hands.
Here are the basics about Delaware sports betting:
Delaware sports betting basics
Delaware has been involved in gaming and horse racing since colonial times. Today, all gambling in the state falls under the oversight of the Delaware Lottery.
In 1976, the lottery instituted a parlay system for betting on the results of multiple sporting events. The product lasted just one season, but it was enough to earn the state a partial exclusion from the federal ban more than 15 years later. The state later re-instituted parlay wagering.
That federal ban has been fully removed now, and Delaware has expanded into single-game wagering.
When will online sports betting launch in Delaware?
Online sports betting is legal in the state, but so far it’s been deemed too expensive to launch.
That could all be different after the coronavirus pandemic, however. Sports betting was shut down along with the casinos in the state since there was no online option available.
A lot of aspects of gaming need a fresh look after the pandemic, including mobile sports betting, Director Vernon Kirk told LSR.
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Legal betting options in Delaware
William Hill supplies sports betting to Delaware’s three casinos through an agreement with the Delaware Lottery.
All of the standard betting markets are available in Delaware, though there is a limit on college betting. Books cannot take action on any in-state colleges, which include the Division I University of Delaware Blue Hens and the Delaware State University Hornets.
All sports betting must be done at Delaware’s three casinos. There are websites that suggest they can take online sports bets in Delaware and anywhere in the US, but those aren’t licensed entities. US bettors would have no legal protections when dealing with those operators.
That means an offshore sportsbook could choose not to pay out a bet or could close without returning customer funds.
Most popular sports to bet in Delaware
Delaware is a bit of an anomaly when it comes to sports fandom.
Its proximity to Baltimore, Philadelphia and Washington DC, means sports betting loyalties can be spread wide throughout the state.
The majority of Delaware’s fewer than 1 million residents live in New Castle County, which is in the northern part of the state. Since the heart of New Castle County, Wilmington, is just 30 miles south of Philadelphia, sports fans tend to lead toward Philly teams.
That means the NFL‘s Philadelphia Eagles are one of the most-bet teams in the state. But the Baltimore Ravens and Washington DC‘s NFL team also see their fair share of bets from residents as well.
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Is horse racing legal in Delaware?
Yes, horse racing and betting on horse racing are both legal in Delaware.
Delaware has two harness racing tracks:
- Delaware Park in Wilmington
- Dover Downs in Dover
The state’s three casinos also have racebooks and simulcast betting.
Delaware sports betting timeline
2018: Racing to the starting line
Delaware emerges as a contender to win the race to market, sprinting toward the gate alongside New Jersey.
Following the SCOTUS decision, state officials conduct a review of the legal climate and existing laws. The group determines that no further legislative work is needed for Delaware to move forward, clearing the way for a quick launch. Regulators expect the industry to roll out in June, barring any hiccups.
On the last day of May, Gov. John Carney confirms those expectations. Carney issues a press release targeting June 5 for launch, a timeline that ultimately proves accurate. It wins that sprint to market on June 5.
2009: State tries to expand sports betting
In 2009, Gov. Jack Markell pushes an effort to expand the states’s existing parlay lottery product into full-scale sports betting. The sports leagues bring suit against the state, citing PASPA. Although the DE Supreme Court had ruled the move was legal, federal courts disagreed. A US Circuit Court provided the final ruling against the state, shutting down its proposed expansion.
Markell appeals to the US Supreme Court, which declines to hear the state’s arguments. Had the court taken the case, we might be talking about Markell vs. NCAA rather than Murphy vs. NCAA (named after the NJ governor).
Delaware sports betting FAQ
Is sports betting legal in Delaware?
Yes. Delaware law permits sports betting, and became the first state outside of Nevada to book a legal, single-game wager. Books are now taking wagers.
Who oversees Delaware sports betting?
The Delaware Lottery is charged with regulation and oversight of the industry.
Where can I bet on sports in Delaware?
Single-game sports betting is limited to the state’s three casinos:
- Delaware Park Casino
- Dover Downs Hotel & Casino
- Harrington Raceway & Casino
Parlay betting is also allowed at lottery retailers throughout the state.
Who can apply for a Delaware sports betting license?
Technically, nobody. The state’s three casinos function as a combined licensee, and they share the cost of licensure based on their slot contribution to the state.
Who can bet on sports in Delaware?
The legal gambling age in Delaware is 21.
Is mobile sports betting available in Delaware?
According to lottery officials, mobile sports betting is legal in Delaware, but currently is not offered.