On June 5th, Delaware became the first state, other than Nevada, to legalize sports betting following the historic ruling by the United States Supreme Court when they overturned PASPA in May. Delaware beat out New Jersey to cash in on the excitement over legalized sports betting. And by all accounts, the state is definitely cashing in.
For starters, Delaware bettors placed nearly 70,000 (69,698) wagers during this timeframe. The total handle was just over $7 million dollars. Bettors won roughly $6 million dollars back on their $7 million wagered. However, that means they did lose $1 million dollars, which translates into a losing rate of roughly 14%. When comparing that number to Nevada’s traditional loss rate of 5% to 6%, Delaware bettors are either very inexperienced or the venues and the state just got really lucky during their opening three weeks.
Delaware Lottery Director Vernon Kirk subscribes to the philosophy that it was just luck and that the state most likely won’t continue to see that high of a revenue unless it’s during football season. Kirk made the following comments about the initial betting revenue, according to RealClearLife.com:
“We were pleasantly surprised. I’m cautiously optimistic but check back with me when football season starts. No matter how you look at it, we have a good first few weeks, but I’d be surprised if it stayed that strong.”
A Further Breakdown of the Betting Revenue Numbers
With a betting revenue of $1 million dollars, the state had a daily rate of roughly $52,000. Unfortunately, the state doesn’t get all of that money as it’s divided up amongst the following:
$125,000 dollars (12.5%) was taken off the top of the betting revenue and given to the vendors: William Hill, Scientific Games and Stadium Tech.
From there, the state’s 3 tracks and casinos received the following amounts:
Delaware Park – received $263,924 dollars after taking in almost 51,000 wagers and a total handle of $5.2 million.
Dover Downs – received $57,293 after taking in over 11,650 wagers and a total handled of $1.18 million.
Harrington Raceway – received $31,039 after taking in 7,100 wagers and a total handle of $590,000.
After these betting venues received their portions, roughly $85,000 of the revenue was allocated to horse racing purses as Delaware is the only state to do this as of now.
The remaining $437,000 of the sports betting revenue went to the state.
Cautious Optimism Moving Forward
As mentioned above, the Delaware Lottery Commission is taking a “cautiously optimistic” approach to the next few months of sports betting. However, they are looking forward to seeing how these numbers will look once football season hits. To give you an example of football’s betting popularity, one report states that Americans have wagered an estimated $28 billion dollars on football in Nevada over the last 25 years. In 2017 alone, bettors in Nevada wagered roughly $1.7 billion dollars on football and the state’s sportsbooks ended up winning almost $77 million, according to ESPN.
You can see why Delaware, and other states, are very excited to get their sports betting platforms rolling before football season. If Delaware can get even 25% of Nevada’s football betting action from last year, the state would be loving an extra $15 million in revenue just from the football season.
Keep in mind, Delaware opened their sports betting during a period of time when there weren’t as many sports to bet on. During the first 3 weeks, 75% of the wagers were on baseball while 10% was on the World Cup and the rest was on other sporting events like the NBA Finals and the Stanley Cup.
Additionally, there were some kinks to iron out during this process. According to comments made by Bessie Gruwell, the executive director of Delaware’s Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, the state’s betting venues experienced the following issues:
“I’m glad that this started when it did, at a time when there aren’t a lot of sports to bet on, because they have some kinks to work out. They shut down at 11 p.m., so they had to, on one occasion, turn everyone away in the middle of one of the NBA finals game. There’s also been long lines.”
“But, hopefully, they should have everything working much better by the time the NFL and college football games start. If they do, and with the popularity of those sports, I would imagine that $62,000 figure would grow quite a bit.”
Final Thoughts on Delaware’s Early Success
As most of us at GamblingSites.org have been around sports betting for many years, it’s not a surprise to us that Delaware has seen this kind of early success. Sports betting is a big business. The American Gaming Association stated that roughly $150 billion dollars was spent on sports betting last year. That’s a massive number that each state would love to get a piece of.
Research firm Eilers and Krejick Gaming, estimated that if 32 states have fully operating sports betting platforms by 2023, they could earn a combined $6.3 billion in betting revenue. That’s not the total handle, but what they would get after all wagers are paid out.
I believe that Delaware will be thoroughly enjoying the fruits of sports betting by the time the football season is over with. The state’s early betting revenue numbers should motivate other states to hurry up and get their sports betting platforms legalized and implemented. This is an exciting time not only for sports bettors in Delaware but throughout the country.
As a longtime freelance writer, avid sports fan, former athlete, and experienced sports bettor, Rick Rockwell has risen up the ranks at GamblingSites.org to become the self-professed "King of the Blog" in his first year with the site. ...
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