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Delaware Still Considering Legalization of Sports Gambling

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As we reported last year and earlier this year, the state of Delaware is considering allowing wagering on sports at the state’s three casinos. Delaware remains one of four states that have sports wagering rights that were grandfathered in from a 1992 federal law banning sports gambling. The others are Nevada, Oregon, and Montana.

Delaware is considering the expansion of gambling due to the increase in neighboring state competition from Pennsylvania, the onset of table games in West Virginia, the possibility of slots in Maryland, and of course, Atlantic City and New York.

Ed Sutor, president and CEO of Dover Downs, speaking to members of the Video Lottery Advisory Council said,“I do not think this is going to go off our list until it happens.”

Sports betting is on the top of a list of recommendations for state officials to consider when the VLAC submits its report due on November 5. Other changes recommended by the council are to eliminate Sunday morning closings, allowing alcohol to be served after 1 a.m., and removing the cap on promotional slot play.

Opponents of sports betting within the state include the governor, Ruth Ann Minner, as well as the usual compliment of professional and amateur sports organizations.

If approved, Delaware’s sports gambling will not be similar to Las Vegas type gambling. A Delaware sports lottery would mandate that combination bets only would be allowed, ie: parlays, to keep the original element of chance and of course, a more difficult way to actually win.

Implying that if one was to bet solely on a side or a total there would not be an element of chance, or less of a chance, Sutor said, “The lottery by its very nature can only do games of chance.”

Any sports gambler will tell you that it is difficult enough to pick a side or total points scored, having to parlay a bet makes it much more difficult to win. This type of bet gives the house a huge advantage and the gambler a major dis-advantage. Maybe that is the reason Oregon’s attempt at sports gambling failed.


In June of this year, a House of Representatives committee released a bill authorizing a sports lottery, however the bill was not brought to the floor for a vote. Instead, lawmakers passed a resolution authorizing the budget finance director and controller general to conduct a study and submit a report to the legislature. That report is due on Dec. 21 of this year.

“I look forward to it,” referring to the report due in December, said Sutor. “If anybody does a reasonably intelligent job of doing a forecast, they’re going to end up with a report that shows this should be very attractive to the state.”

House Majority Leader, Richard Cathcart, a republican from Middletown said “I think there will be more support for it this year than perhaps in past years,” adding, “I think there will be a vote on it.”

Citing the failure of the Oregon attempt at a sports lottery, administration officials are wary of a study conducted by the gambling industry that says sports wagering could generate an additional $70 million a year in revenue, noting that with 2,500 outlets, Oregon was able to generate a mere $12 million in sales in it’s best year.

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