The “First State” was, in fact, the first state to adopt sports betting after PASPA was repealed. Less than a month later, on June 5, Governor John Carney placed the first bet in Delaware. Sports betting is now regulated at all three casinos within state lines. Since that time, residents have still awaiting a move to regulate online and mobile sports betting.

With less than a million residents and no major league sports teams, the gambling enthusiasts of Delaware credit gambling as their fourth-largest source of revenue. In fact, Delaware was one of a few states that had offered parlay-style three-team NFL bets prior to PASPA. Though parlays are the primary type of bet available, single-game wagers are accepted at all three casinos. With such limitations on online betting and the kinds of bets offered, there has been adamant support for expanding the sports betting market.

If Delaware sports bettors are looking for fewer wager restrictions, New Jersey and Pennsylvania offer legal retail and online sports betting as an alternative. 

State of Delaware Sports Betting Overview

Sports betting became legal in Delaware in 2009. HB 100 (as House Substitute 1) passed both the state House and Senate in May 2009. At the time, the law claimed to be legal under the auspices of PASPA, thanks to an existing parlay product in the state. The parlay product, which had been available in Delaware since 1976 and was exempt under PASPA, operated strictly as a product of the lottery commission. So, lawmakers sought to expand the legal betting activities. That did not work, however, and Delaware had to stick to its original parlay products only.

The law remained active in Delaware. Once PASPA met its demise in May 2018, Delaware lawmakers argued that no new legislation was necessary to allow sports betting in the state. Thus, all that remained was to hammer out the logistics of sports betting at the three retail betting locations. The main points of the law are as follows: Sports betting is legal at the three racinos. Online sports betting is also legal, though no online books have been launched in the state. All three casinos share an annual $4.5 million license fee, though it’s not restricted to sports betting specifically. They pay proportionately according to each property’s share of the video lottery market. The state taxes sports betting revenues at a rate of 50%.

State of Delaware Sports Betting Timeline

In 2023, Delaware’s state lottery reportedly intends to issue a request for proposals from vendors who could provide online sports betting as well as online poker and casino gambling. The state’s exclusive contract with 888 Holdings (William Hill) expires in 2023.

In 2022, Delaware sees a dip in sports betting handle in 2022 compared to 2021. The state took in $82.4 million in handle in 2022 and a little more than $7 million in revenue. The handle represents a 32% drop from 2021.

In 2021, After a down year in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic, Delaware totaled $121.8 million in sports betting handle, with $10.9 million in revenue for the state.

In 2019, Delaware totaled $132.5 million in sports betting handle, with $19.5 million in revenue. 

In 2018, Following the US Supreme Court’s PASPA decision, state officials conducted a review of the legal sports betting climate and existing laws. The group determines that no further legislative work is necessary for Delaware to move forward, clearing the way for a quick launch. Regulators expect legal betting to roll out in June, barring any hiccups.

On the last day of May, Gov. John Carney confirmed those expectations. Carney issues a news release targeting June 5 for launch, a timeline that ultimately proves accurate. 

In 2009, Gov. Jack Markell pushed an effort to expand the state’s existing parlay lottery product into full-scale sports betting. The sports leagues sued the state, citing PASPA. Although the Delaware Supreme Court had ruled the move was legal, federal courts disagreed. A US circuit court provides the final ruling against the state, shutting down its proposed expansion.

The state appealed to the US Supreme Court, which declined to hear the arguments. Had the court taken the case, we might be talking about Markell vs. NCAA rather than Murphy vs. NCAA (the case that led to the US Supreme Court overturning PASPA, named after the New Jersey governor).