Delaware legalized online gambling in 2012 with a piece of legislation granting existing brick-and-mortar casinos the authority to offer online casino games and poker to people located inside the state. All three casino sites went live online in 2013 and remain in operation to this day.
Shortly after the Supreme Court overturned the national sports betting prohibition in 2018, Delaware authorized sports betting at licensed brick-and-mortar casinos. Dover Downs, Delaware Park and Harrington Raceway are now authorized to offer a full range of sports betting options for customers age 21 and over.
Delaware officials have not yet authorized online sports betting, but we believe that will come in time. The state’s three licensed casinos will most likely get some experience with in-person sports betting before eventually being allowed to extend their online platforms to include sports wagering.
Currently, online casinos in Delaware are allowed to host real money slots, video poker, table games and player vs. player poker. You can visit these sites today to get the full casino experience at home minus the sports betting and free booze.
You can do your gambling at any of the websites listed below. The three casino sites you see below are the official websites of state-sanctioned betting sites in Delaware. You must be located within state boundaries and at least 21 years of age to create an account and download the software. The fantasy sites and horse racing sites you see below are also legal in Delaware and all are headquartered in the USA.
Daily Fantasy Sports:
Horse and Greyhound Betting:
Online Casinos and Poker:
Sports Betting in Delaware
Delaware became the first state in the US outside of Nevada to legalize single game sports betting on Tuesday, June 5th, 2018. The Office of the Governor announced about a week in advance that Delaware’s three brick-and-mortar casinos would be able commence Vegas-style sports betting on all major professional and college sports.
This announcement was made in the wake of the Supreme Court of the United States declaring the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) unconstitutional. Delaware was able to move quickly after the SCOTUS decision thanks to a law the state had previously passed in 2009 seeking to legalize sports betting.
A conglomerate of sports leagues sued to stop the bill from being enacted, and a judge ruled Delaware’s law was in violation of PASPA. Lawmakers never got around to formally repealing the legislation, which remained on the books but not in effect. After the Supreme Court struck down PASPA, Delaware was able to easily revive its sports betting efforts without having to go through all the trouble of drafting new legislation and getting it through congress.
Now, sports betting is available at Delaware’s three brick-and-mortar casinos. There is no online sports betting yet, but that seems like a likely outcome given the state’s comfort with other forms of online gambling. It will not require a major change in attitudes or abilities for the state’s casinos to extend sports betting to their existing gambling websites.
A Brief History of Sports Betting in Delaware
Delaware is one of just a few states with any form of sports betting whatsoever during the time of PASPA. When PASPA was passed in 1992, it prohibited all states from authorizing or regulating sports betting – with exemptions for forms of sports betting that were already legal in a handful of states.
At the time, Nevada was the only sport with actual, single-game sports betting as we know it today. Delaware allowed parlay-style wagers on at least three NFL games at the time PASPA was enacted, and that was the only type of sports wager exempted in Delaware. State residents retained the ability to place 3-game parlay wagers on the NFL throughout the full lifetime of PASPA.
Delaware attempted to expand its sports betting options in 2009 with a bill that would have allowed betting on the outcomes of individual games in all professional sports. The legislature passed the bill and governor Jack Markell signed it into law.
The major professional sports leagues sued to stop the bill and were ultimately successful. A court ruled against Delaware’s 2009 sports betting law because it went beyond the scope of what was legal in Delaware at the time PASPA was enacted.
Where it gets interesting is the 2009 bill was never formally repealed. It is still on the books and could presumably be resurrected without having to go through the whole legislative process all over again. In late 2017, reports began circulating that the Carney administration was drawing up plans to revive the 2009 law if the Supreme Court rules in favor of New Jersey in its challenge of the constitutionality of PASPA.
Well, the Supreme Court did indeed rule in favor of New Jersey and declared PASPA unconstitutional. Delaware was able to bring back sports betting faster than most other states thanks to that old piece of legislation that lawmakers never got around to actually repealing.
Governor John Carney had the honors of placing the first legal sports bet on a single game in Delaware on the afternoon of June 5th, 2018. As a major Philadelphia Phillies fan, he bet $10 on the Phillies in that evening’s game against the Chicago Cubs at odds of +200.
We’re happy to report the first sports bet in Delaware and the first in the nation outside of Nevada was a winner. The Phillies handily defeated the Chicago Cubs by a score of 6-1 that evening and netted Governor Carney a $20 payout.
How Online Gambling Works in Delaware
Delaware’s 2012 gambling legislation gave the go-ahead for three betting sites but it appears to have provisions in place that may allow other sites to enter the market under certain circumstances. Hopefully we’ll see increased competition as more sites come online and vie for your business.
As is the case with gambling in other states, Delaware’s online casinos are open only to people located inside Delaware. Your location is verified by IP address and cell phone triangulation. Details on this technology are sparse, but the technology is definitely effective at blocking people outside of Delaware.
The big difference between Delaware and other states that have legalized online gaming is that Delaware’s state lottery commission controls the industry. All three casinos are operated as a joint venture between Scientific Gaming and 888 Holdings. Each casino runs its own website, but they are all essentially one big entity.
Poker players will be glad to know that Delaware is open to sharing player pools with other states. So far, Delaware has signed player sharing agreements with Nevada and New Jersey. What that means is you may now find yourself seated with players accessing legal poker sites where they live. Delaware is no longer ring-fenced from the rest of the U.S., which makes for a bigger, more vibrant poker community. As more states legalize online gambling and poker, we will look forward to similar agreements with those states as well.
For the most part, the online betting experience in Delaware is similar to what the offshore industry has given us for years. You have access to all the same games, a wide range of betting stakes and even real money poker. Delaware’s casino sites don’t look as polished as some of the big international sites, but overall things look and act as they should.
A Rough Start
Online gambling in Delaware got off to a bit of an awkward start, but there were no outright disasters. Delaware showed us two things. First, it showed us that legal online betting can be done safely and responsibly. Second, we learned that this fledgling industry has a lot of maturing to do.
One of the big issues Delaware gambling sites had to deal with early on was verifying player locations and determining who could be granted access and who had to be blocked. With Delaware being such a small state in terms of landmass, a sizable portion of its citizens live near a state line. Location verification technology had trouble at first getting precise locations on players and ended up blocking too many people out of an abundance of caution.
It was a tough situation to deal with because Delaware could not afford to accidentally allow non-residents to access licensed casino sites. The casinos had no choice but to err on the side of caution and therefore block anyone who could not be 100% verified as being physically located inside state lines.
The positive outcome is that people from other states were successfully blocked just like the bill’s proponents originally promised. Delaware’s success at keeping casinos restricted to within state borders had shed a positive light on the geolocation technology and proves casino sites have the ability to operate within the confines of the law. Delaware’s success in blocking certain people can now be cited to counter the arguments of anti-gambling types who worry about minors and gambling addicts finding ways to access gambling websites.
A second problem the casino ran into was one of deposits. Banking institutions blocked many credit and debit card deposits to Delaware’s casinos in the early months. The problem was that although online gambling was legalized in Delaware, there is still a federal law that prohibits banking institutions from processing payments to and from illegal gambling sites. Many banks at the time opted to just block all gambling-related transactions rather than trying to sort through which were legal and which were not.
It was estimated at one point that up to 70% of card deposits to Delaware gaming sites were being blocked. That’s a huge problem for obvious reasons. Things have fortunately improved on that front as more states consider online gambling. In early 2018, for example, JPMorgan Chase & Co. finally began approving transactions with licensed horse racing betting sites.
A Positive Update
The state’s online poker industry received a big break in 2014 when the governors of Delaware and Nevada signed off on an interstate player sharing agreement. It took a while to iron out the details, but the agreement went live in early 2015.
The agreement allows licensed poker sites in Delaware to share players with licensed sites based out of Nevada. The end result is a larger pool of players for poker sites in both states. Now, you may find yourself seated at tables alongside people from both states.
This was a huge development as one of the big issues facing poker sites in both states is one of limited market potential. Now that Delaware’s poker sites have access to players from Nevada, online poker becomes more attractive to Delawareans. No longer will you find yourself playing with just a handful of other people from the same state.
Delaware made progress once again in 2017 after it was announced that New Jersey would be joining the player sharing agreement. With a population of nearly 9 million people, New Jersey is a welcome addition for players on Delaware poker sites who will now be able to play alongside players from New Jersey and Nevada in addition to other Delawareans.
The Delaware Department of Justice issued an opinion in March of 2016 that it believed fantasy sites were operating contrary to state gambling laws. However, the DOJ agreed not to take action due to word of a pro-legalization bill that would have given sites such as FanDuel and DraftKings legal status in Delaware.
Any efforts to pass positive fantasy sports legislation fell through later that year. The Delaware DOJ subsequently sent cease-and-desist letters to FanDuel, DraftKings and Yahoo Fantasy Sports. All the major fantasy sites were forced out of Delaware.
Legislation signed in 2017 finally legalized daily fantasy sports for good in Delaware. FanDuel, DraftKings and other major DFS sites were permitted to reenter the Delaware market provided they pony up a $50,000 licensing fee and pay upwards of 15.5% in DFS taxes. FanDuel and DraftKings promptly took action and now both sites accept customers from Delaware once again.
It was at one time questioned if Delaware saw daily fantasy sports as a threat to its legal online casino games as offered by the state’s three licensed brick-and-mortar casinos. We should also keep in mind that Delaware is one of just four states that already allows a limited form of traditional sports betting. The Delaware sports lottery allows residents to place parlay-style wagers consisting of three or more games.
Sports Lottery Director Vernon Kirk, however, did not seem threatened by the emergence of daily fantasy. When asked about the issue in 2015, he said “no, these are very different forms of gambling.” As it turned out, we will get to see whether or not those concerns were valid now that the major DFS sites are back in action in Delaware.
Online Horse Racing Betting
Delaware is one of many states that allow real money horse racing betting in-person, online and via off-track betting (OTB) facilities. The state Thoroughbred Racing Commission regulates and oversees all aspects of racing to include betting. One of the commission’s stated objectives is to ensure the betting public receives “fair percentages of the wagering dollar by overseeing audits.”
Most of the major horse racing betting websites accept customers from Delaware with the only restriction being that customers must be at least 18 years of age. If you’re 18 or older and live in Delaware, you can visit any of the websites listed near the top of this page to place real money wagers on the day’s races.
Some unlicensed offshore betting sites also take horse wagers over the internet, but they offer no advantage over legal racing sites. Licensed horse racing betting sites offer the exact same odds that you would get if you were placing wagers in-person at the track. In fact, all wagers taken online by licensed operators are pooled with those taken in person. Placing your bets with licensed sites supports the local racing industry just as much as those placed at the track.