Delaware Governor Places First State Legal Sports Betting Wager, New Jersey Pushing to Be Next

Posted on: June 6, 2018, 07:55h. 

Last updated on: June 6, 2018, 07:57h.

Delaware will now be known as The First State for a new reason: on Tuesday afternoon, it became the first to join Nevada to offer full-fledged legal sports betting since the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) repealed the previous longstanding federal ban in May.

John Carney Delaware First State sports bet
Alexander Hamilton for the (modest) win: Delaware Gov. John Carney didn’t risk any mortgage money, but did place his state’s first legal sports bet on Tuesday. (Image: AP)

Governor John Carney (D) did the honors of placing the first wager, a $10 bet on the Philadelphia Phillies. He later won, as they defeated the Chicago Cubs 6-1. No word on his exact take from that bet, but we’re pretty sure he’s not paying for anyone’s college education with his winnings.

Bettors lined up at the state’s three casinos — Dover Downs, Delaware Park, and Harrington Raceway — to make history by placing one of the first-day legalized bets on a professional baseball game.

Delaware had been one of four states that was provided some sort of immunity to the federal ban known as the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) that stood from its passage in 1992 until the SCOTUS repeal last month.

PASPA prevented states from passing new sports gambling legislation, but at the time President George HW Bush signed the statute, Delaware already had parlay betting regulations approved on professional football. Parlay betting is a single bet that links together two or more games. To win, the player must successfully pick all the games correctly.

Last week, the Delaware Department of Finance and the state’s attorney general concluded there were no legal obstacles to allow the three casinos to immediately expand their sportsbooks.

Other States’ Heel-Nipping

Despite the newly opened regulated market, Carney was circumspect in his enthusiasm for getting ahead of the sports betting game.

“Gloating in this business doesn’t last very long,” Carney told reporters. “We’re happy to be first today. I don’t expect we’ll be the only one for very long.”

Neighboring New Jersey — the state that ignited the PASPA legality debate when it moved to allow its horse racetracks and Atlantic City casinos to offer sports betting back in 2010 — is now scrambling to finalize its regulations that will oversee the industry. Garden State lawmakers are hoping to have a regulatory bill on the governor’s desk this week.

Pennsylvania authorized sports betting last fall, but casinos are hesitant to bet on the market there due to an exorbitant tax rate (36 percent) and one-time $10 million licensing fee. Delaware casinos will pay about a 26 percent tax.

A total of 15 states have sports betting measures currently awaiting legislative review.

Parlaying Bets into House Wins

Delaware casinos report that about 40 percent of their parlays have been made by out-of-state visitors. With sports betting expected to come to numerous states in the Mid-Atlantic arena, state officials are concerned the PASPA repeal could actually be bad for Delaware in the long run.

“It’s all a big guess right now. No one knows,” Delaware Lottery Director Vernon Kirk said recently.

Parlay bets have much higher win rates for casinos (around 30 percent), compared to just about five percent on traditional sports betting. 

“They hear billions of dollars, but they don’t understand that’s just the amount that’s bet. The amount that’s won at the end of the day by the house is just five percent. And that number has to be divided up by a whole number of people,” Dover Downs CEO Denis McGlynn told The Washington Post.

“It makes it difficult for anybody to really make money,” he concluded.