Delaware made history yesterday after booking the first legal sports bet on an individual game outside of Nevada. Governor John Carney showed up to a press event yesterday morning at Dover Downs to celebrate the occasion and later booked the state’s first bet at exactly 1:30 PM ET.
In front of media and a line of prospective patrons, Governor Carney booked a $10 bet at +200 on the Phillies to beat the Cubs. Carney acknowledged some would say he’s throwing his money away because the Phillies have been in a bit of a slump, but confidently predicted “this $10 bill is gonna bring our Phillies back.”
I was so confident the Phils would win that I’ve already spent the winnings— on a haircut before my 25th anniversary dinner with Tracey last night. pic.twitter.com/gZtBC4rp9Y
— Governor John Carney (@JohnCarneyDE) June 6, 2018
In what can only be considered a positive omen for sports bettors and Phillies fans across the country, the first single-game bet placed outside of Nevada was a winner. Despite picking the underdogs, Carney’s bet paid off after the Phillies beat the Cubs 6-1 at Wrigley Field.
How Delaware Won the Race to Legal Sports Betting
Dover Downs, Delaware Park and Harrington Raceway received authorization from the state to begin accepting sports wagers shortly after the US Supreme Court ruled the federal prohibition of sports betting to be unconstitutional.
The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, also known as PASPA, prohibited all states outside of Nevada from legalizing true sports betting. A handful of states were granted exemptions from PASPA for parlay-style wagers and betting squares contests, but actual single-game wagering was outlawed in every state except Nevada.
With PASPA no longer in play, the race is on. Delaware may have finished first in the race to legal sports betting, but it will not be the last. Other states are also gearing up to legalize and authorize sports betting.
New Jersey is in the process of forming regulations and is expected to go live with sports betting this year if all goes according to plan. New Jersey was the state that challenged PASPA and won, but was unable to beat Delaware to the punch due to lawmakers still needing time to form regulations governing how sports wagering shall be conducted in the state.
Delaware got there first thanks to a law it passed in 2009 authorizing single-game sports betting on all major sports. The NCAA and pro sports leagues successfully sued Delaware to stop the law from taking effect, but the law was never repealed. After last month’s Supreme Court decision, Delaware was able to quickly revive the law and authorize its three casinos to take sports bets.
Now, sports betting is available seven days a week at all three Delaware casinos. Online sports betting remains a distinct possibility, but that will require additional regulation. Delaware does have online casino gambling, so it wouldn’t be a huge stretch to see the state authorize online betting at some point as well.
Next in Line
The four states that look most likely to legalize sports betting next include:
New Jersey: New Jersey is close to implementing sports betting. Lawmakers are working on a bill right now that will legalize sports betting at Atlantic City casinos as well as online. The sports leagues have been asking for an integrity fee to help protect the integrity of their games, but lawmakers are having none of it.
Mississippi: Days after the Supreme Court’s decision, Mississippi gambling officials said the state could have sports betting by the end of June. This is possible thanks to a little piece of language slipped into a bill regulating fantasy sports last year. The addition went unnoticed by most lawmakers (some of whom were miffed after noticing), but essentially it removed a prior prohibition of betting on games that take place outside casinos.
West Virginia: West Virginia got an early start on sports betting back in March when Governor Jim Justice signed a bill into law legalizing sports betting on the condition that PASPA is stricken down or repealed. The law allows sports betting at authorized locations in the real world as well as via mobile devices. The West Virginia Lottery Commission is currently drafting rules and regulation for that. No timeline has been given yet, but it shouldn’t be too much longer.
Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania passed a law last year authorizing sports betting online and at state casinos. Earlier this week, the Gaming Control Board notified casinos that it is now accepting license applications from casinos to offer sports betting. The Gaming Control Board has issued temporary regulations with promises of more to come.
A number of other states are also working on legislation to legalize sports betting in the future. These other states are not as far along in the process as the states mentioned above, but they too are likely to authorize sports wagering over the near term.