Delaware lawmakers urge online sports betting legalization

Wilmington Delaware
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A group of lawmakers in Delaware has argued that the state must legalize online sports betting in 2024 as it is missing out on valuable tax revenues. 

The group, which has produced a report from a task force exploring gambling expansion, said that not having online sports betting is “detrimental to our revenue in Delaware when our neighboring states” do offer online sportsbooks. 

The report was produced by Representative Franklin D. Cooke, Representative Michael F. Smith, Representative Timothy D. Dukes and Representative William Bush, following a bill in the 2023 session mandating a task force to explore whether online sports betting would benefit the state. 

A key theme of the report is comparing and analyzing the sports betting markets in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Maryland

Taking into account data from those three states and the impact that the industry has had on them, the task force returned five key recommendations to their fellow lawmakers in 2024. 

Those recommendations are: 

  • Delaware needs to have an online sport lottery;
  • Delaware needs to have multiple online sports lottery operators(skins); 
  • Delaware should provide for a tethered model with existing video lottery agents; 
  • Delaware should protect the horse racing industry and purse contributions; 
  • Delaware should provide additional resources for problem gambling

The report stated: “It is quite clear that the absence of online sports wagering is detrimental to our revenue in Delaware when our surrounding states have online sports wagering. During our meetings, it was demonstrated that there have been many attempts to place online bets in Delaware. This is lost revenue for our state. 

“It is also clear from our surrounding states that the use of multiple online operators creates a greater volume of wagering and online usage. It is our recommendation that online operators need to be tethered to our existing video lottery agents. Market access agreements can help both the online operator and the brick-and-mortar lottery facility and ultimately create greater revenue for the state. 

“While multiple online operators are important, this working group does not believe that there should be more than two online operators per each brick-and-mortar lottery facility.”

Delaware is an interesting state for gaming as it allows online casino games through the state lottery but online sports betting is illegal. However, retail sports betting is allowed, again through the state lottery. 

The Delaware Lottery recently inked a 10-year exclusive agreement with Rush Street Interactive to provide online casino content after its previous deal with 888 expired. 

Kyle Sauers, CFO of Rush Street, stated that it will take time to be a profitable venture given that marketing spend will be required, but that it will generate long-term gains. 

Sauers told investors: “The market is pretty small right now. But over time, we think there’s a pretty nice opportunity to expand. It’s not going to happen overnight.

“I would not think about it as some big headwind in 2024 like most markets, it takes a little while to get up and running. There’s some costs associated with that. But like other North American casino markets, that we’ve demonstrated. Delaware, it should get profitable pretty quickly.”

It remains to be seen whether there is a clear appetite for online sports betting within the wider Delaware legislature but, should any bill be passed in 2024, the home state of President Joe Biden would join an exclusive club of states that offer both online sports betting and online casino, alongside New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Connecticut and West Virginia.