Updated 

Delaware doubles number of locations taking NFL bets


Delaware is doubling down on sports betting.

The state’s lottery is more than doubling the number of retailers, restaurants and taverns where bets on NFL games can be placed this upcoming season.

Gamblers will be able to bet at 66 outlets. Last year, Delaware expanded sports betting beyond the state’s three racetrack casinos, allowing 31 retail and tavern locations statewide to take NFL parlay wagers.

“We generated a lot of interest last year,” said Vernon Kirk, director of the Delaware Lottery, in a phone interview. “We generated $25.4 million during the football season. For a little state like Delaware, that’s pretty good.”

Sports betting in Delaware is limited to wagers on NFL games using only parlay cards with a minimum bet of $2. There is a minimum of three games on each card, according to the state lottery.

The expansion beyond the three casinos was approved in June 2012 as part of a new law allowing wagering on slots and table games. The Delaware Lottery’s NFL parlay cards were first issued in 2009, generating $10.8 million.

Revenue from NFL parlay cards has increased every year, reaching $12.9 million in 2010, $17.9 million in 2011, and $25.4 million last year.

Kirk said the venues added last year accounted for a 40 percent overall increase in the amount of money wagered on NFL games. The casinos reported a 7 percent increase.

“Expansion did not hurt the casinos one bit,” Kirk said. “It looks like a good relationship. It’s not about competition, we are all in this together.”

The state’s share of sports betting revenue last year was $2.4 million, according to financial records.

William Hill U.S., based in Las Vegas, is the exclusive risk manager for the Delaware Lottery through a partnership with Scientific Games. The bookmaker determines the product offering, sets the odds and point spreads and manages the risk. Joe Asher, CEO of William Hill U.S., declined to discuss Delaware’s expansion.

The state will start taking bets for the season this month as NFL preseason games continue. Delaware is one of four states that legally can offer sports betting under the 1992 federal Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act or PASPA.

Nevada is the only state in which full race and sports books operate, while sports wagering is also legal in Oregon and Montana. In New Jersey, voters approved a sports gambling referendum in 2011, and the state enacted a law months later to allow sports betting in Atlantic City casinos and horse tracks.

The NCAA and four professional sports leagues went to court to stop it and succeeded in March when a federal judge ruled the 1992 law limiting sports betting to four states was a proper exercise of Congress’ power to regulate interstate commerce.

New Jersey appealed the decision to federal court in Philadelphia. Gov. Chris Christie has said if New Jersey loses its appeal, he will take the issue to the U.S. Supreme Court.

If New Jersey is successful in overturning the ban, Delaware could be next.

“We have the infrastructure in place,” Kirk said. “If the federal court rules in New Jersey’s favor, we would be able to turn on our system.

That betting system was put in place several years ago as Delaware tried to offer unlimited sports betting only to have a federal judge block their efforts. In 2009, Third Circuit Court of Appeals Judge ruled single-game betting violated PASPA.

The ruling limited Delaware to parlay wagering on NFL games. Delaware offered parlay betting for one year in 1976, earning the state an exemption under the federal law.

Contact reporter Chris Sieroty at csieroty@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @sierotyfeatures on Twitter.

 

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