In Delaware, the journey to the legalization of sports betting begins in the early 1930s. Not that it had not been happening in an unofficial capacity beforehand, but pari-mutuel wagering was now becoming more and more popular. The laws regulating this new form of betting were instituted, and the first recorded licenses were issued around 1935. It is at this time that the well-known Delaware Park was opened (around 1937), and interestingly, this is when race tracks came to be known as racinos.
Fastrack things March of 1975, the very first Delaware Lottery was established by legislation. It was a weekly game that was based on live horse races held at racetracks that were owned by the State. Another milestone was in 1976 when the Delaware Lottery ran its first State approved sports betting event; it was a football parlay game. This would later come into play in the process of getting sports betting approved in Delaware.
The progressive State continued to move forward with amending gambling laws that regulate sports betting, and in 1986 a board that would oversee all forms of gambling in the state of Delaware was formed. The Delaware Gaming Control Board was established in 1986 and was later renamed the Division of Business and Professional Regulation in 1991.
Early in 1992, the Professional and Amateur Sports Provision Act (PASPA) was enforced. In a nutshell, the Act deemed it illegal for any State that had not already been regulating sports betting (by the time of the enactment of the Act) to license and regulate any form of wagering on sports activities.
Since then, several attempts to have PASPA repealed have been made by many states in the USA with little to no effect. In fact, because of the parlay football sports betting that was already allowed in Delaware, the State had been one of only four states to be exempt from PASPA in any way.
By 2003, lawmakers in the first state passed a law that allowed the expansion of racino operations. Since then, it was until 2012 again when legislators made an effort to further boost state revenue through sports betting.
The HB333 bill was introduced, and the House Gaming and Pari-mutuels Committer approved it. It was meant to expand the sports betting retail estate, among other forms of gambling. After the HB333 was passed via the Senate and the House of Representatives, on June 29th, in the same year (2012), Governor Markell signed the bill into law.
While the progress to a more liberal sports betting environment seemed slow, the strides that were being made in Delaware were much more significant than in most states across the nation. In 2016, SB183 was introduced by Senator Bushweller. Apart from table games tax and license budget cuts for operators, this bill was also meant to expand the sports betting services of the State Lottery and take them online.
The casino industry was struggling at that time, and something had to be done about it to boost the state revenue. However, as beneficial as it would have been, the SB183 bill still sits in the Senate Finance Committee to date, in anticipation of further discussion.
2018 to Date
It was an exciting day for bettors all over the nation as PASPA was finally repealed by the Supreme Court of the United States on May 14, 2018. It was a victory for the sports betting industry and interactive game operators everywhere, as the U.S is a largely unexplored market. The Governor of Delaware made the first-ever, legal, single-game sports bet in the United States from Delaware.
Right after the SCOTUS ruling, parlay football betting was finally allowed in Delaware. The office of Governor John Carney also announced the plan to allow betting on both professional and collegiate sports, except for games that involved state-based teams. The Governor also confirmed that on June 5th, sports betting on professional car racing, basketball, soccer, football, hockey, and baseball would officially launch in the state at 1330hrs.