The race to operate America’s first legal sportsbooks outside of Nevada is officially on, and once again, Delaware is looking to take the inside track.

Delaware Park Racetrack and Slots – one of three casinos in the First State – is targeting the first week of June to accept newly legalized wagers.

Speaking to the Delaware Public, Bill Fasy – who serves as president of Delaware Park – outlined the venue’s vision for its new sportsbook:

“I think the only thing we’re not going to offer is ‘in game’ wagering.

You’re going to have prop bets. You’re just not going to have in game prop bets going on.

And eventually you’re going to have a mobile device.”

On May 14, the United States Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) of 1992 – a federal ban which precluded 46 states from offering any form of sports betting. Four states with sports betting legislation on the books at the time PASPA was passed – Nevada, Oregon, Montana, and Delaware – were permitted to continue under a “grandfather” clause.

Since then, Nevada has been the only state to offer wagers on single games, while Delaware has only offered parlay cards on NFL action.

As Fasy stated, the demise of PASPA frees Delaware Park and the state’s two other casinos – Harrington Raceway & Casino and Dover Downs – to operate full-fledged sportsbooks rather than their current racebooks.

In the wake of the Court’s 6-3 decision against PASPA – which came seven years after New Jersey first attempted to legalize sports betting on the statewide level – Delaware government agencies and regulators studied the potential implications of repeal.

Three days after the PASPA decision came down, the Delaware Department of Finance (DDF) issued a statement confirming the state’s legal right to amend or expand current sports betting regulations:

“The Delaware Department of Finance, in consultation with the Attorney General’s Office, has determined that there are no legal obstacles to moving forward with full-scale sports betting in Delaware, including head-to-head-betting, which permits single-game wagering.

Under state law passed in 2009, Delaware may authorize betting on professional and collegiate sports, with the exception of games involving Delaware-based teams.”

Finance Secretary Rick Geisenberger echoed those sentiments, while also describing the Delaware Lottery’s plans for industry expansion:

“Following Monday’s ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court and consultation with the Delaware Attorney General’s Office, we are confident that Delaware has the legal and regulatory authority to authorize sports gaming in Delaware.

The Delaware Lottery has had plans in place for months, and we will begin training lottery and casino staff early next week.

We will continue to provide public updates as we prepare to launch full-scale sports gaming in Delaware next month.”

During the previous fiscal year, Delaware’s three racetrack / casino venues combined to take in $1.9 million on parlay cards. Of that total, Delaware Park was the clear market leader at $1.2 million in revenue, nearly twice that of Dover Downs ($422,000) and Harrington Raceway ($282,000) combined.

Asked about his venue’s interest in expanding its offerings, Dover Downs president Ed Sutor confirmed to the Delaware Public that a full-scale sportsbook was in the works. Even so, Sutor wasn’t as enthusiastic about the potential economic impact when compared to his counterpart at Delaware Park:

“It’s nice to have. [But] in Nevada, where they’ve had it for 50 years, it only represents about two percent of their revenues.

A lot of people are mistaking the amounts bet as the revenue.

It’s not a huge take for the industry.”

Last year, Nevada set a record for sportsbook win with $248.7 million in profit – but as Sutor observed, that figure accounted for just 2.1 percent of the Silver State’s annual haul.

Jonathan Zaun

One of Gamble Online's first dedicated reporters, Jonathan has spent well over a decade reporting on the gaming industry. While breaking legal news is his main area of expertise, Jonathan is an avid blackjack player & strategist who follows professional poker closely.

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