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Delaware Legalizes Online Gaming

Bill enacts online, sports-betting expansion

Delaware Legalizes Online Gaming

A bill authorizing online betting in Delaware and more venues for sports wagering and other gambling easily passed the state Senate last month, and Governor Jack Markell immediately signed the bill into law.

The bill, which was approved by the House in June, makes Delaware the first state in the nation to legalize full-scale casino betting on the internet.

Online poker and other games will be conducted through the Delaware Lottery, which also owns the video lottery terminals and table games at the three racinos. To access the state’s online casino, players will be required to buy a prepaid card containing an access code from a current lottery retailer. Traditional Delaware Lottery tickets also will be available for purchase online.

Geolocation software will be used to assure that online wagering occurs only within state lines.

The measure also will create new venues for sports wagering and electronic keno machines. The keno machines will be authorized to expand to at least 100 sites away from the casinos. Delaware’s parlay sports betting on NFL games, meanwhile, will be expanded to an estimated 20-30 sports books outside the three casinos. Officials estimate that the new sports-betting locations will be operational by the start of the NFL season in September.

The measure cleared the Senate by a 14-6 vote despite lobbying from church leaders, who oppose it on moral grounds. A proposed amendment added to give the racing industry a higher cut of profits was dropped after the Markell administration promised to reconsider its contribution to purses at the three racinos.

Current racino operators supported the bill, thanks to a deal cut with Markell that eliminates millions in slot and table fees in exchange for the additional games. Some $3.75 million in license fees currently paid by the casinos will be eliminated, and in exchange, the operators have pledged to spend a comparable amount on capital improvements and marketing.

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