Sports betting, horse racing betting, daily fantasy sports and online gambling are legal in Delaware.
Delaware was the first state to take advantage of the 2018 Supreme Court decision that ended the federal sports betting prohibition. Two months after the Supreme Court overturned PASPA, Delaware authorized retail sportsbooks at each of the state’s three casinos.
Dover Downs, Delaware Park and Harrington raceway are now home to sportsbooks that are open to customers 21 or older.
Horse racing betting also plays an important role in Delaware’s gaming industry as each casino is attached to a horse racetrack. Visitors may place wagers in-person at the track or place wagers through US-based horse racing betting sites.
Delaware formally legalized daily fantasy sports with the passage of legislation in 2017. State law now requires DFS operators to apply for licenses and to adhere to basic consumer protection regulations.
Online gambling and poker are both legal in Delaware as well courtesy of legislation approved in 2012. Under state law, each land-based casino may offer online casino games and poker to customers located within state lines. Gambling sites operated by each casino launched in 2013.
Daily Fantasy Sports:
Horse and Greyhound Betting:
Online Casinos and Poker:
Sports Betting in Delaware
Delaware holds the unique distinction of being the first state other than Nevada to legalize single game sports betting. In May 2018, the Delaware Governor announced Dover Downs, Delaware Park and Harrington Raceway would launch a “full-scale sports gaming operation” beginning June 5th.
Each casino is now home to a full-fledged sportsbook:
Delaware was able to beat New Jersey and every other state across the finish line due to a law the state enacted in 2009 in an attempt to legalize sports betting. The nation’s major professional leagues and the NCAA sued to stop Delaware from authorizing sports betting and were successful, but the law was never repealed.
As a result, it was a simple matter for Delaware to reauthorize sports betting following the Supreme Court decision overturning PASPA.
Will Delaware Legalize Mobile Betting?
The Delaware Lottery has declined to authorize mobile sports betting to date but appears open to the idea. The reluctance to act in the meantime is based on several reasons.
In January 2020, DE Lottery Director Vernon Kirk explained to the Delaware Business Times the reasons behind the state’s reluctance to embrace mobile sports betting.
Among those reasons, include the difficulty and cost associated with setting up the lottery for mobile betting, ID verification, payment processing, geolocation and more. Additionally, the lottery makes a larger profit margin off the high-hold parlay wagering product than it would with single game online betting.
“We have to balance mobile versus our very robust parlay card retailer handle,” Kirk told the Delaware Business Times in 2020. “Will we do better with more volume, a finite number considering the size of Delaware, but a lower hold if parlay card participation by the retailer network declines precipitously? That’s a strong possibility.”
However, Kirk acknowledged mobile betting will likely come to Delaware sooner or later:
“In order to keep pace with the competition, mobile sports betting of some form or another in the future is inevitable; we just don’t have a timetable at the moment.”
A Brief History of Delaware Sports Betting
Delaware was one of just a handful of states with some form of sports betting in place during the PASPA years. PASPA prohibited all states from authorizing or regulating sports betting but included a provision grandfathering sports betting programs already in place or approved within one year of PASPA’s enactment in 1992.
At the time, Nevada was the only state with actual, single-game sports betting as we know it today. Delaware did not have single game betting, but the state lottery did offer a parlay-style NFL wagering game called Scoreboard. The Scoreboard program was shuttered after just a single season, but that was enough to grant Delaware a limited exemption from PASPA.
Delaware attempted to leverage that exemption in 2009 with the introduction of a bill that would have allowed betting on the outcomes of individual games. The legislature approved the bill and Governor Jack Markell signed it into law later that year.
The MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL and NCAA sued to enjoin the law from taking effect on grounds that it would expand Delaware sports betting well beyond the scope of the original exemption granted under PASPA. The US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit ruled against Delaware, finding that any expansion of sports betting beyond the parlay-style wagers offered under Scoreboard would violate PASPA.
Although the effort was unsuccessful, Delaware never formally repealed the 2009 law. In late 2017, reports began circulating that the Carney administration was drawing up plans to revive the 2009 law if the Supreme Court were to rule in favor of New Jersey in its challenge of the constitutionality of PASPA.
The Supreme Court did indeed rule in favor of New Jersey and struck down PASPA as unconstitutional. Delaware was able to act on the opportunity faster than any other state and quickly moved to legalize sports betting – even beating New Jersey to the punch.
Governor John Carney placed the first ever legal wager on a single game outside of Nevada on June 5th, 2018. As a major Philadelphia Phillis fan, he bet $10 on the Phillies in that evening’s game against the Chicago Cubs at odds of +200.
Delaware’s first sports bet and the first in the nation outside of Nevada was a winner. The Phillies handily defeated the Cubs by a score of 6-1 that evening to net Governor Carney a $20 profit.
Online Gambling in Delaware
Delaware legalized online casinos and poker with the passage of the Delaware Gaming Competitiveness Act of 2012 (HB 333) in June 2012.
The Delaware Lottery Commission oversees the conduct of online gambling as offered by each of the state’s three land-based casinos. Each casino is authorized to offer online slots, table games and poker to players 21 or older and physically located within Delaware.
Players can play online or download the mobile app for each online casino and poker room below:
All three of the online casinos are operated as a joint venture between Scientific Games and 888 Holdings. Each casino runs its own online gambling website, but all essentially operate as one singular entity with little difference between each.
Online Poker in Delaware
The Delaware Gaming Competitiveness Act of 2012 authorized online poker for players within Delaware.
Poker players will also be glad to know Delaware law allows the state to enter gaming compacts with other states. So far, Delaware has signed player sharing agreements with Nevada and New Jersey. This means Delaware poker players may find themselves seated with players accessing legal poker sites from other states that have regulated online poker.
In other words, Delaware is no longer ring-fenced from the rest of the US. This makes for a bigger, more vibrant poker community as poker sites that operate in Delaware and elsewhere have a bigger player pool to draw from. As more states legalize online poker, Delaware is likely to sign additional such agreements to further increase liquidity.
Delaware Gaming Competitiveness Act of 2012
29 DE Code § 4801 explains the intent of the Delaware Gaming Competitiveness Act of 2012 in simple terms:
(c) In authorizing the use of the Internet for certain lottery games, it is the further purpose of the General Assembly to:
(1) Expand access to certain lottery games by offering them on the Internet in a well-regulated and secure system designed to create a positive customer experience that limits access to minors, those with gambling problems, and others who should not be gaming;
Ironing Out Early Technical Issues to Pave the Way for Other States
As one of the country’s first states to tackle online gambling and poker, Delaware was a trailblazer of sorts in dealing with certain technical and regulatory aspects related to legalization.
Geolocation and payment processing were two particularly challenging issues for an industry that was still very much in its infancy and still viewed with no small amount of skepticism. Delaware was able to overcome those challenges, however, and showed that legal online betting can be regulated safely and responsibly.
Geolocation was challenging in those early days as the technology was still relatively new and Delaware was a small state with a sizable portion of its citizens living near a state line. Location verification measures implemented by Delaware had trouble at first getting precise locations on players and ended up blocking too many people out of an abundance of caution.
This was a tough situation to deal with because Delaware could not afford to accidentally allow people to access licensed casino sites from out of state. The state’s online casinos had no choice but to err on the side of caution and block anyone who could not be 100% verified as being physically located within state lines.
Although Delaware’s geolocation measures were a bit overzealous at the time, they successfully blocked out of state players just like online gambling proponents had originally promised. Delaware’s success in this regard proved to the country at large that online gambling can indeed be managed state-by-state as mandated by federal law.
Deposits were also troublesome at first, but Delaware managed to largely solve that issue as well. In those early days, banking institutions blocked many debit and credit card deposits to Delaware gambling sites.
The issue with deposits stemmed from the UIGEA, which is a federal law that is still in place and that prohibits banking institutions from processing payments to and from illegal, offshore gambling sites. In the wake of the UIGEA’s passage in 2006, many banks opted to simply block all gambling-related transactions rather than attempt to sort through which are legal and which are not.
It was estimated at one point that up to 70% of credit and debit card deposits to Delaware gaming sites were being blocked. That caused major issues for obvious reasons, but the industry as a whole improved in that regard and now states with legal online gambling have little issue processing deposits for players.
Delaware Fantasy Sports
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.
Oversight of daily fantasy sports contests is provided by the fantasy division of the Delaware Division of Gaming Enforcement. The Division is responsible for authorizing DFS providers to operate in Delaware, ensuring all laws are followed and responding to customer complaints.
Delaware Horse Racing Betting
Delaware is one of many states that allow real money horse racing betting in-person at tracks, online and via off-track betting facilities (OTBs).
Online Racing Betting
Most major, US-based horse racing betting sites accept customers from Delaware. State residents who are 18 or older may register with any of the betting sites listed near the top of this page to place wagers online or through each provider’s official mobile app.
Delaware has never gotten around to formally legalizing advance deposit wagering, but state authorities have never indicated they plan to take action against the racing betting sites that openly offer their services to customers.
Lawmakers introduced legislation in 2017 (HB 251) to legalize, regulate and tax ADW providers, but the bill never made it out of committee. In the meantime, horse racing fans have their choice of ADWs that are regulated in other states and receive the same odds as if those wagers were placed in-person at the track.
Delaware Racetracks and OTBs
One thoroughbred racetrack and two harness racetracks operate in Delaware. All three also operate as the state’s only authorized OTB locations where visitors may place wagers on races held elsewhere via simulcasting.
- Live thoroughbred and purebred Arabian racing May through October
- Simulcasting year-round
- Casino with 2,300 slots, table games, poker room and sportsbook
777 Delaware Park Blvd
Wilmington, DE 19804
- Live harness racing November through April
- Simulcasting year-round
- Casino with 2,300 slots, 41 table games, 18-table poker room and sportsbook
1131 North DuPont Highway
Dover, DE 19901
- Live harness racing April through October
- Simulcasting year-round
- Casino with 1,700 slots, 30 table games, 100-seat poker room and sportsbook
15 West Rider Road
Harrington, DE 19952
Two regulatory bodies oversee horse racing and parimutuel wagering in Delaware. The Thoroughbred Racing Commission oversees thoroughbred racing, specifically at Delaware Park. Meanwhile, the Harness Racing Commission oversees harness racing, specifically at Dover Downs and Harrington Raceway.
Timeline of Legal Gambling in Delaware
Delaware was one of the first states to legalize any form of gambling when it authorized Parimutuel wagering and created the Delaware Racing Commission.
The Delaware legislature authorizes the Delaware Lottery.
Delaware Lottery offered NFL parlay cards for a brief period of time in 1976. In 1992, the state received a partial exemption from PASPA’s sports betting prohibition allowing the state to offer parlay bets. In 2009 the state was denied the right to offer sports betting by the courts but was allowed to restart its parlay wagering games.
Delaware authorizes existing racetracks to offer casino games. The new Racinos are overseen by the state lottery.
Delaware was the first state to offer online casino games to its residents, beating New Jersey to the punch by two weeks.
The Delaware legislature legalizes daily fantasy sports.
After the Supreme Court struck down PASPA, Delaware quickly added full-fledged sports betting to its existing parlay card offerings.