Delaware Prepares for Gambling Revenue

Delaware Prepares for Sports Betting, Slot Gambling

Parlay betting on NFL games under the lottery system was allowed in Oregon from 1989 until 2006, when state lawmakers voted to end it. It wasn’t because of pressure from the NFL. And it wasn’t because bettor interest had declined – in 2006, sales for the so-called sports lottery increased for a fifth consecutive year and set a record of $14,000,000.

 Delaware Prepares for Gambling RevenueOregon Lottery spokesman, Chuck Baumann said, “The rationale was that the state could realize more economic benefit from hosting NCAA basketball tournament games. The NCAA Division 1 men’s basketball committee had made clear that if sports betting existed in Oregon, tournament games would not.” In March, 1st and 2nd round games will be played in Portland, the states first men’s tournament games since 1983.

While lawmakers in Delaware are considering to allow pro and college sports parlay betting, they say they aren’t worrying much about pressure from the NCAA, NFL or any other sports organization. Though it is anticipated that such opposition will vigorously come, since all of the major sporting organizations strongly oppose states legalizing and promoting their sporting events.

But there are no venues in Delaware that are large enough for an event the size of an NCAA men’s basketball tournament, and legislators, facing a projected $600 million deficit for fiscal 2010 and threats to the state’s lucrative gaming industry, are unlikely to be swayed by impact on possible NCAA post-season home games for the University of Delaware or Delaware State.

We have been lobbying for the NFL to come in. They say they don’t want to be associated with gambling. With no disrespect intended, I think that boat has already sailed.

Tony DeLuca
Delaware state majority leader

The primary obstacles to passage of a bill by legislators are mechanical issues:

  1. Whether sports betting would be limited to casinos at the state’s three horse racing tracks;
  2. The cost of licensing and specifics of who the betting would work.

 Delaware Prepares for Gambling Revenue

There are all kinds of people in Delaware with vested interests and there is sure to be lively debate, and legislators feel strongly that a bill will be successful. This is not only a function of potential revenue gain, but also prevention of projected revenue loss. Delaware has a lottery, slot machines, and horse racing. In fiscal 2008, it got more than $250 million of its $3.3 billion budget from slots and the lottery – $213 million from slots. That makes the lottery and slots the state’s #4 income source to personal income taxes, franchise taxes, and abandoned property.

Even without the budget deficit, we have to stay competitive. The bottom line with sports betting is that only Delaware can do it east of the Mississippi. Federal law allows it in Nevada and Montana. Sports betting can draw people away from the other states. And while there is money to be made on sports betting, the real dollars are in the carryover to casinos, in slot play, and in meals.

Pete Schwartzkopf
Delaware House Speaker

Pennsylvania introduced slot machines in 2007, neighboring Maryland voters approved slots in November, which could start operating in 2010. Delaware has avoided large revenue losses to Pennsylvania by adding slot machines, extending hours, and using promotions. Without sports betting, Delaware could lose $70 million per year in revenue once Maryland’s slots are fully operational.

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