DOVER, Del. — Full-scale sports betting is coming to Delaware, barely three weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for states to implement wagering schemes.
Gov. John Carney planned to join other state officials Tuesday afternoon at Dover Downs for the launch of sports betting at Delaware’s three casinos, which will offer single-game and championship wagering on professional baseball, football, hockey, basketball, soccer, golf and auto racing.
Because of a failed sports lottery experiment in 1976, Delaware was partially exempted from the 1992 federal ban on sports gambling that was recently struck down by the Supreme Court.
That exemption led to broader sports betting legislation passed in 2009 and Delaware’s current NFL parlay wagering system, which combined to give the state a head start in offering full-scale sports wagering.
Tuesday’s launch means Delawareans will be able to make legal wagers on the NBA championship series between Golden State and Cleveland and the Stanley Cup hockey finals between Washington and Las Vegas.
“Obviously the key is going to be the football season because the bulk of betting in America is on football,” Delaware Finance Secretary Rick Geisenberger said last week. “We’ll learn a little bit in June and July, but we’ll learn a lot more in September.”
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While Delaware is the first state to take advantage of the Supreme Court decision, sports fans in three other states could be placing bets by football season.
In New Jersey, the legislature is racing to push through laws governing sports books in the state, which had hoped to be the first other than Nevada to offer gambling on individual games — only to be beaten by Delaware, where the necessary laws were already on the books. New Jersey lawmakers hope to have a final bill passed and signed by the end of this week that resolves several competing proposals to allow sports betting at casinos and horse racing tracks.
In Mississippi, where lawmakers proactively legalized gambling on sports at the state’s 28 licensed casinos in the event of a favorable Supreme Court decision, state regulators have proposed rules to govern sports books that could be voted on as early as June 21. That means casinos could start taking bets 30 days later, in late July.
West Virginia also passed a law before the Supreme Court decision that legalized sports betting if authorized by the court. Officials there have said they hoped to have sports betting when football season kicks off in late summer. The West Virginia Lottery Commission is working on draft rules and regulations but has given no timetable for when those rules might be ready. Once they are written, there would be a 30-day public comment period.
“We’re not going to start until we know we can do it 100 percent correctly,” lottery director Alan Larrick has said.
Republican West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice has also said he wants state officials, professional leagues and casinos to reach an agreement on what the leagues have called an “integrity fee” — money that the leagues would use to police betting patterns — but the subject was not addressed in a recent special session of the legislature.
Thus far, no state law has made it to the books with the integrity fee attached.
Pennsylvania also prospectively legalized sports betting last year, but it could be months before regulations are in place that would allow sports books to open. State officials have not produced an estimate of what sort of tax revenue the activity could mean for Pennsylvania, which already rakes in more in taxes on casino gambling than any other state. But some gambling industry officials are warning that Pennsylvania’s 34 percent tax rate — plus another small cut for local governments that host casinos — and the $10 million licensing fee will make it unprofitable to run a legal sports betting business.
In the meantime, Pennsylvania gaming officials notified casinos last week they could begin applying for licenses. So far, none has submitted an application.
WHERE STATES STAND ON LEGAL SPORTS GAMBLING
DELAWARE: Became the first state outside Nevada to offer betting on individual games when sports books opened Tuesday at the state’s casinos.
NEW JERSEY: Legislation authorizing sports books at casinos and horse racing tracks could be approved as soon as this week.
MISSISSIPPI: Regulations allowing sports books at the state’s 28 licensed casinos could be approved as early as June 21, which means casinos could start taking bets 30 days later.
WEST VIRGINIA: The state lottery commission is working on regulations, which would be subject to a 30-day public comment period once promulgated. Officials have said sports books could be open by the start of football season.
PENNSYLVANIA: Gaming officials have notified casinos that they could begin applying for licenses to open sports books, although it could be months before regulations are in place that would allow them to open. So far, no casinos have applied.
CONNECTICUT: Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy is negotiating a new compact with the state’s recognized Indian tribes to allow them to offer sports books at their casinos. After that’s done, Malloy has called for a special session of the legislature to legalize the practice.
NEW YORK: Lawmakers continue to debate the prospect of legal sports gambling amid heavy lobbying from the New York-based professional sports leagues, but Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said the issue is too complicated to resolve before the Legislature adjourns later this month. Major League Baseball has sent two former Yankees managers, Joe Girardi and Joe Torre, to Albany in the past week to push for the leagues to receive a fee to monitor suspicious betting and protect their intellectual property.
OTHER STATES: States that have considered legalizing sports books include California, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Oklahoma, Rhode Island and South Carolina.