In a move aimed at revitalizing Delaware’s sports betting landscape, State Representative Frank Cooke (D-New Castle) has introduced legislation to allow multiple sports betting vendors to operate within the state. This proposal marks a significant departure from the current model, which entails an exclusive contract with the BetRivers app.

Background and context:

The contract with BetRivers was initiated by the Delaware Lottery Office back in August 2023. However, Cooke points out that the agreement was finalized before the Internet Sports Lottery Legislative Working Group could deliver its final report. The working group’s recommendations included the allowance of up to six mobile sports betting operators, a proposition that Cooke seeks to formalize through his legislation.

Central to Cooke’s argument is the potential for enhanced revenue generation for the state and increased competitiveness vis-à-vis neighboring states. “There is substantial consumer demand for multiple operators. Delaware residents are still driving across the border into Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey to access their favorite mobile apps,” Cooke emphasized, according to Delaware Public Media.

While proponents of the bill foresee long-term profitability through a more competitive market, the current fiscal projection estimates an annual revenue loss of approximately $3 million for the state. Under the proposed legislation, operators would be required to contribute 18% of their revenue to the state’s coffers, contrasting with BetRivers’ current contribution of around 40% to the General Fund. However, it’s important to note that the fiscal note does not incorporate one-time revenue from the $500,000 license fee each vendor would pay for a 5-year license.

Insights from industry leaders:

Adam Marchuk, representing Rush Street Interactive, BetRivers’ parent company, defends the existing model, arguing its profitability and alignment with projections. However, proponents of the bill contend that Delaware is forfeiting potential revenue due to its limited brand recognition with BetRivers, citing significant interest in other platforms such as FanDuel.

House Speaker Valerie Longhurst (D-Bear) has expressed skepticism regarding the accuracy of the projected fiscal loss and has called for a reassessment. Meanwhile, Minority Leader Mike Ramone (R-Pike Creek South) has raised concerns about potential legal hurdles from Rush Street Interactive should the bill advance, given the existing contractual arrangement.

Despite divergent viewpoints, the House Administration Committee has opted to release the bill, urging vendors to engage in further negotiations before its progression to the House floor. This decision reflects ongoing deliberations concerning the future trajectory of Delaware’s sports betting market, underscoring the complexities inherent in navigating regulatory and economic considerations in this evolving landscape.