Delaware Sports Betting Bill Would Expand Options

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Delaware Fightin Blue Hens mascot YoUDee performs during a timeout during the first half against the Villanova Wildcats in the first round game of the 2022 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament. Rob Carr/Getty Images/AFP

Delaware legalized online sports betting in 2023 and allowed one operator to do it. But now, lawmakers are considering a change. 

The State House of Representatives is offering House Bill 365. This bill, if passed, would modify the existing lottery law, allowing casinos to collaborate with multiple sportsbooks. This amendment intends to foster a more competitive market and provide bettors with a broader range of options when placing wagers on their preferred sports.

How? Letting more companies offer online sports betting services would lead to better odds, enhanced user experience and increased innovation in the industry.

The House Administration Committee is set to review the bill, with a hearing anticipated in the next twelve legislative days.

What House Bill 365 Would Do

House Bill 365 says that online sports lottery operators who want to work in Delaware have to pay a starting fee of $500,000 for a license that lasts five years. On top of that, these operators have to give 18% of their monthly earnings back to Delaware.

Out of this money, about 1.5% will be set aside for either the Delaware Thoroughbred Racing Commission or the Delaware Harness Racing Commission.

State Rep. Franklin Cooke is co-sponsoring the bill. He highlighted the potential benefits of expanding mobile sports betting in Delaware.

“The addition of online sports betting in the First State means additional revenue will benefit programs for the treatment, education and assistance of compulsive gamblers and problem gambling,” he said. “We’re talking about $400,000 or 3.5% of the processed returned to the state for funding these programs. Those dollars will go a long way.”

Additional Reasons For Expansion

The online sports betting industry in Delaware is currently managed by the BetRivers sportsbook, a platform owned by Rush Street Interactive (RSI). RSI secured a five-year contract with the state, which includes the possibility of annual renewals.

Cooke has been actively tracking the online sports gambling issue. He initiated a resolution in 2023 that led to the formation of a working group to study this matter. Just before RSI launched its app, the working group completed its report. 

The report suggested that Delaware should venture into online sports betting as it was losing revenue while its neighboring states – Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Maryland – were seeing growth. Pennsylvania permits up to 13 vendors and taxes them at 36% of gross revenue. In contrast, New Jersey allows up to 39 vendors and imposes a tax of 14.25%.

RSI on Board, Lottery is Not

In a statement submitted to the Delaware Business Times, an RSI spokesperson said, “We look forward to working with members of the General Assembly, the lottery and other interested parties to explain why this bill will not best serve Delaware.”

Helene Keeley, the Director of Delaware Lottery, advocates for healthy competition. However, considering Delaware’s small betting-eligible population, she firmly believes that sticking to a single vendor would be the most lucrative strategy for the state.

So, not everyone is on board, but once the House Administration Committee considers the bill and offers a ruling, we’ll provide an update.