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Delaware Casinos Will Soon Allow Sports Betting

June 1, 2018
Local sports fans with an appetite for betting the games won't have far to go beginning next week. Delaware's three casinos will be allowed to operate Las Vegas-style sports books starting at 1:30 p.m. June 5.

Delaware Gov. John Carney made the announcement May 31.

"We look forward to next week's launch," Carney said in a statement. "We're hopeful that this will bring even more visitors into Delaware to see firsthand what our state has to offer."

It was hardly a surprise that Delaware won the race to be the first state to take advantage of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision May 14 that essentially swept away a 1992 federal law that had prohibited states from allowing sports wagering.

Four states had been grandfathered under that law but only to the extent that permitted the type of sports wagering that had been previously offered in those places.

As a result, Delaware -- which had offered a lottery contest based on NFL games in the 1970s -- has been able to offer parlay wagering on pro football in its casinos for about the last decade. However, Delaware's casinos were barred from offering more popular single-game wagers or futures bets or any of the wide-ranging sports gambling propositions found in Nevada casinos.

All that changed a few weeks ago when the Supreme Court found the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA) to be unconstitutional.

The legal challenge to PASPA was mounted by New Jersey, and that state is likely to be the next to have casinos with sports books as soon its legislature approves required laws and regulations. That's expected to happen June 7.

Delaware has three casinos: Delaware Park, Dover Downs Hotel and Casino, and Harrington Raceway and Casino. All are within driving distance from various points in Maryland.

Delaware's state government website notes that "under state law passed in 2009, Delaware may authorize betting on professional and collegiate sports, with the exception of games involving Delaware-based teams."

Maryland's efforts to get in on the sports betting action fizzled in the last session of the state General Assembly. The House of Delegates passed a bill that would have put the question of sports betting to the voters in November. But the state senate never took a vote on the bill.

In Maryland, major expansions of gambling have to be approved by voters.

Unless Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan calls for a special session of the General Assembly soon, such a ballot question won't appear in November. 

If Maryland doesn't get a sports betting measure on the 2018 ballot, there won't be another opportunity until November 2020.

Photo Credit: Ed Sheahin/PressBox