On May 14, Governor Jack Markell signed sport betting into law during a ceremony at the Delaware Park racetrack and casino. After officially endorsing the bill, the governor said that his administration looks forward to working with the three racinos in Delaware to make the sports lottery a success.
“There is tremendous interest in the sports lottery throughout our region and nationally,” Markell said. “My administration looks forward to working with the racinos to market their terrific facilities and make the sports lottery as attractive to customers as we can.”
The law not only made sports betting legal, it also opens the doors to introducing table games “as soon as possible”. As Delaware is the only state on the eastern seaboard that is exempt from the 1992 federal law that banned sports gambling, the state is eager to open the gates to real gambling at the racinos and pull in needed revenues for the state. This will go a long way towards making up for the projected $600 million dollar shortfall in the state budget for the coming year.
Not everyone is happy with the new legalized sports betting, however. The NFL and the NCAA are both taking action in protest of the new law. The NFL filed a suit with the Delaware Supreme Court that claims the state has overstepped its bound with allowing sports betting. They argue that the state cannot say that it is a sports lottery because a lottery relies only on chance while successful sports betting takes skill. The NCAA has said that they will not allow Delaware colleges to host any playoff contests as long as the sports betting is allowed.
Governor Markell has stated his intention of having the sports gaming in operation by the beginning of the professional football season. The state has already been in contact with vendors to get the betting systems in place at the three racetracks. The CEO of Dover Downs, Ed Sutor, said that if they had to, they would run the sports-betting parlor right out of the simulcast area until they can complete a needed renovation. Delaware Park CEO Bill Fasy said their track won’t be doing any remodeling or construction – all they plan to do is train their staff to take the wagers. Both executives said that barring unforeseen circumstances, they intend to have table games in place by the end of the year.