In June, Delaware launched sports betting statewide following Governor John Carney laying down a $10 wager on the Philadelphia Phillies. “This $10 bill is going to bring our Phillies back,” he said.
In a piece done by Rick Maese of the Washington Post when this first happened, it was speculated that PASPA when struck down by the Supreme Court, it would actually hurt the state economically.
Important figures such as Dover Downs CEO Denis McGlynn said things such as sports wagering “is not a moneymaker under the best of conditions.” Others, such as James Butkiewicz, the chair of University of Delaware’s economics department, thought that the state’s gaming industry long-term could be negligible saying, “Delaware does have an advantage right now to the extent that other states aren’t quite ready to do this.”
Both McGlynn and Butkiewicz thought this due to Delaware’s prior sports wagering laws, where bettors could only place parlay bets—bet on three or more teams at a time. That, coupled with the fact that no other state allowed sports betting brought in plenty of traffic for the state on the sports wagering front, with 3,276,000 wagers in 2017 for a total of $46.4 million. That led to “$8.6 million for the state, $1.94 million for the casinos and $1.6 million for other retailers that sold parlay tickets,” according to Maese.
Now, with other states allowing sports wagering and Delaware now allowing single-game bets, one would believe that this would, in turn, hurt Delaware from a monetary standpoint rather than generate more revenue for the state. However, according to David Purdum of ESPN, Delaware brought in $7 million in sports bets, with a revenue of $1 million. Keep in mind, this is with New Jersey and Pennsylvania both allowing wagers as well as the NFL off-season. According to Purdum, 75 percent of the wagers came from baseball, 10 percent from the Worl Cup and eight percent on the NBA Finals.
States like New Jersey and Pennsylvania are much more desirable for potential tourism with Atlantic City in New Jersey and cities like Philadelphia for Pennsylvania. When Delaware was the only state allowing sports wagering, it not only helped the state out economically in that way, but it would draw more tourism, too.
Even with other states allowing the wagering, it doesn’t appear that Delaware will be losing much business. Remember, this revenue stream comes from a time before the most bet on sports’ season is underway—football. According to Darren Heitner of Forbes, a study done before the 2015 NFL and College Football seasons determined that $93 billion would be spent illegally on wagers. Delaware—and other states—will now get a chunk of a similar pie.
How fast will other states allow sports wagering to be legal in their states with football season just around the corner? There’s clearly a market for this product out there.
Until then, we’ll never truly know if Delaware will make out, going from the only game in town allowing high-risk bets, to now being just another fish in a pond allowing “normal” wagers.