Delaware casinos sold more sports wagering tickets in less than three weeks in June than they did in any month in 2017.
And it’s not even football season.
The Delaware Lottery reported more than $7 million in sports bets taken across the state’s three casinos for the month ending June 24. The lottery months end on the last Sunday of a given month.
The state didn’t start taking bets in June until the 5th, when it became the first state other than Nevada to allow single-game sports wagering, a big step up from its NFL parlay cards.
Delaware Park was busiest, selling $5.2 million in sports tickets. Dover Downs reported $1.1 million in bets and Harrington Raceway took in $590,000. Delaware Park, of course, is situated in a better geographical location to capitalize on out-of-state bettors.
Pennsylvania and Maryland do not yet offer single-game sports betting, New Jersey does.
Of the $7,003,725 wagered, the state — after paying vendor fees — took in $875,216, a number Delaware Lottery director Vernon Kirk said was higher than he anticipated.
During the 2017 NFL season, a five-week period ending Oct. 29 saw Delaware reel in more than $1.6 million in net proceeds on $4.4 million in bets on parlay cards.
Single-game wagering leads to more winners since winning a bet on a single outcome is easier than needing three outcomes, which was the only type of bet allowed in the state before the Supreme Court in May struck down a federal law that long forced states to prohibit gambling on the outcome of sporting events.
Football season is expected to be much busier at the casinos than in years prior, and a 19-day period in June, with baseball and the World Cup taking up most of the action, is a good indicator of things to come. The state’s casinos netted $4.8 million in sports bets in fiscal year ’18 through the Super Bowl, not counting the parlay cards sold at retailers across the state.
And while retailers have taken a huge hit with the legislation changing, year-round wagering looks like it’s going to mean a lot more income at the state’s three casinos.
“In essence, we just had a good few weeks here,” Kirk said.
The extra income benefits, among others, the three casino racetracks. Of the money the casino earned from sports bets at Delaware Park, $236,924 went toward the track commission. An additional $326,639 went to the state, resulting in $653,277 in net proceeds to Delaware Park for the 19-day period. Dover Downs netted $143,952 and Harrington earned $77,987.
Kirk said he’s been surprised at the amount of baseball being bet so far. He said about 75 percent of the action has been on baseball and a “few hundred thousand” has been wagered on futures — bets placed on a future outcome, in most cases on a team to win a championship.
As of last Friday, Delaware casinos had taken in $114,000 in World Cup futures, according to Kirk. Based on those bets — surely, more action has been wagered on World Cup futures since — the elimination of Mexico and Colombia this week means the state can’t lose.
Of the eight teams remaining, Delaware wins the most ($63,000) on that initial $114,000 bet if Croatia wins the World Cup. Croatia plays the last of the four quarterfinals matchups Saturday at 2 p.m. against host country Russia.
Kirk said future bets are calculated as sales at the time they’re bet unlike in Nevada, which doesn’t record its tickets as sold until after the event occurs. For example, Delaware has taken wagers on NFL teams to win the 2019 Super Bowl. Those bets have been counted as sales.
Delaware’s leg up on the East Coast ended shortly after it started when New Jersey launched its sports betting enterprise in mid-June. Kirk said the following days saw a “modest” decline at Delaware casinos. New Jersey has since expanded its sports betting offerings at more locations.
But, “I don’t think it will have a dramatic impact on us,” Kirk said.
The multibillion-dollar sports betting industry is set to take off around the country. A report from Gambling Compliance concluded sports betting would be legalized in 25 to 37 states by 2023, “assuming that gaming and sports interests can reach a degree of common ground on a sports-wagering policy.”
The same report said that New York would eventually replace Nevada atop the sports wagering markets.
At least for now, that East Coast market is made up of Delaware and New Jersey.
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