When the Governor of Delaware plunked down $10 on June 5 to back his beloved Philadelphia Phillies over the Chicago Cubs, the bet signaled the start of a new era in American sports gambling.
Governor John Carney’s flier on the Phillies managed to create a $20 profit too, after the (+200) underdogs were able to upset that the Cubbies.
That ceremonial bet positioned at Dover Downs Hotel and Casino was quickly followed by several bigger tickets bought by more severe bettors, including a string of $500 baseball bets placed by local pro Stu Feiner.
Overall, across the state’s three racetrack / casino places — Delaware Park, Dover Downs Hotel & Casino, and Harrington Raceway & Casino — collected $322,135 at wagers on the first day of business. That number comes directly from Delaware Lottery director Vernon Kirk, who heads the regulatory team helping to get Delaware’s sports gambling business up and running.
Residents of and visitors to Delaware have managed to partly bet on sports for many decades, but only on”parlay cards” according to National Football League (NFL) games. Those parlay cards demanded many winners to be linked together, and also the only tickets that cashed were those who revealed all winners.
Traditional single-game or fixed-odds sports betting, a la what you find in a Las Vegas sportsbook, wasn’t available in Delaware — or any American state aside from Nevada for that matter. Under a federal law known as the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) of 1992, single-game sports gambling was banned anywhere but the Silver State.
That all changed on May 14, but when the United States Supreme Court issued a landmark 6-3 judgment in a case called Murphy v. NCAA. That case originated in New Jersey, following the Garden State made continued efforts to pass its sports betting laws and regulations. After being sued by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), Together with the NFL, MLB, NBA, and NHL, New Jersey’s ultimate appeal to the Supreme Court wound up in the winning column.
When the Court ruled that PASPA violated the 10th amendment to the U.S. Constitution — that grants states the right to pass their own legislation absent Congressional action — PASPA was officially struck down for good.
What followed that decision three weeks ago was a veritable gold rush, with New Jersey rushing to place the last touches on its statewide regulations.
However, while lawmakers in New Jersey took their time, their counterparts in Delaware had legal frameworks in place as a result of their parlay card operation. Called the First State for a reason, Delaware moved quickly to become the first state out of Nevada to take legal sports wagers.
Here’s how Governor Carney explained the sports betting launching in an interview with ESPN Chalk:
“For us, it is actually an enhancement of our tourism industry.
It will attract a lot of visitors to our state, especially in this time of year, throughout the summer, coming into our lovely beaches south of this.
They are here and stop at the casinos and do slot machines and table gaming. This will be an additional opportunity for them.”
Carney also took a moment to hype Delaware since the Northeast’s newest sports gambling destination when talking to USA Today:
“Gloating in this business doesn’t last very long.
We are happy to be first today.
I really don’t expect we will be the only one quite long, but now it feels really good to be first.”
Carney’s historic first wager was set at Dover Downs Hotel and Casino, but the country is home to two more racetrack / casinos using in-house sportsbooks: Delaware Park Racetrack and Harrington Raceway and Casino.
Until the sportsbooks in Atlantic City go live — which should be any minute now — Delaware stands out as the only place for residents of the East Coast to place wagers. With that in mind, bettors will be flocking to these casinos from all corners of the Northeast.
To help get you started in your sports gambling journey, I’ve gone ahead and visited each of the 3 sportsbooks in Delaware. Below you will find honest and objective reviews of each centre, together with have to know information like the address, contact number, site, and distances from regional population centers.
Check out my reviews of the three sportsbook places now operating in Delaware to make a more informed decision with your gambling buck:
Delaware Park Racetrack
Address: 777 Delaware Park Blvd, Wilmington, DE 19804
Distance from Philadelphia:41 miles
Distance from Baltimore:69 miles
Distance from New York: 122 miles
Distance from Boston:355 miles
Located in the very northernmost point of the state, in town of Wilmington, Delaware Park Racetrack is your very conveniently available venue for people in New York and New England.
It is also the most appealing of the trio, the casino facility nestled near the banks of the Delaware River and also a grassy green mountain. In the outside, Delaware Park seems to be just another stately three-story estate, but as soon as you step foot in you’ll feel like you have walked on the casino floor in Las Vegas.
Between the slot machines, bright lights, and gold trimming, this place is similar to the Golden Nugget compared to typical rural racetrack.
When you find the sportsbook areas — which are located in the clubhouses around the 1st and 3rd floors — you will be greeted by an array of brightly colored miniature lightbulbs exhibiting the day’s lines and odds. These betting boards used to be cutting edge in Las Vegas about a decade ago, but Sin City has phased them out in favor of high-definition tv screens instead.
But you know what they say about a man’s trash being another’s treasure, so Delaware Park is happy to have the betting boards on site.
Just ask William Fasy, who serves as president of Delaware Park. During an interview with Deadspin to celebrate his sportsbook opening for business, Fasy touted his place’s most prominent technological boom:
“These boards were purchased eight years ago, and they’re no longer used in Vegas.
But they’re the best boards in Delaware!”
If you are unfamiliar with a sportsbook betting board the image below will show you what I am talking about.
Sports Book Beting Board
As you can see, each game or wager is coded with a base amount (401, 402, etc. in the example picture above). When gambling on 401 in the image above, you would be financing the Minnesota Vikings (-10) within the Los Angeles Rams. That (-10) figure denotes the point spread, so in this case, that the Vikings would be laying 10 points to the Rams.
If you wanted to take Minnesota with no spread, just look for the negative or positive numbers to the right of the point spread. These figures are known as the”moneyline,” and they represent true chances on your wager. For the Vikings example, you’d be financing a large (-600) favorite, while a wager on the underdog Rams would offer (+400) on your money.
Each participant or team will have their own number, so you would simply tell the clerk”$100 on 401moneyline please” to place a c-note down on the Vikes.
Along with the fancy betting boards, Delaware Park has also set up a bank of self-service wagering kiosks. These were not up and running just yet when I visited the facility, but they looked like ATM machines from the early 1990s. Think a boxy framework, small screen, and no-nonsense interface and you’ll find the idea.
You can wager to your heart’s content at Delaware Park, which provides daily actions on Major League Baseball (MLB), plus the National Basketball Association (NBA) Finals, along with a slew of daily golfing clubs and tennis tournaments.
If you’re interested in futures betting, have a shot at the forthcoming 2018 World Cup soccer championship, or try and forecast that NFL team will take the Super Bowl title this season.
Fasymade it apparent in a round of meet and greets with the local press that Delaware Park would be going”all in” on its sportsbook. According to him, each Kind of betting will probably be on the table, save one:
“I think the only thing we are not likely to provide is’in game’ wagering.
You’re likely to have prop bets. You’re simply not going to have in game prop bets going on.
And you’re going to have a mobile device.”
The notion of in-game betting was popularized by online sportsbooks, with gamers able to place extra wagers even as the match is ongoing. Say your team drops into an early hole, and you are keen on balancing the ledger. Putting an in-game bet on the other side provides valuable protection against upsets and unforeseen conditions.
While the in-game gambling fad will not be coming into Delaware Park just yet, Fasy did allude to the development of mobile and internet wagering in the future.
Do not forget, Delaware is one of just three states — along with Nevada and New Jersey — in which a legal and regulated online gambling business has gone live. With internet casinos and poker rooms already hosted by the country’s three casino / racetracks, it won’t be long till it’s possible to download the Delaware Park sportsbook program directly for your smartphone or cellular device.
When it comes to customer support, Delaware Park really hit the ball out of the park. Under guidance from Fasy — who’s obviously enthused about turning the place into a sports bettor’s haven — the staff here are educated and considerate. Sure, a couple hiccups could be seen concerning erroneous tickets and so on, for example my futures wager on the Miami Dolphins year win total being entered as a Miami Marlins moneyline by error.
However, those growing pains should be expected for any new sportsbook. Thanks to this useful attendants, I was able to cancel the Marlins ticket and exchange it for the Dolphins in a couple of minutes.
All in all, I can’t recommend Delaware Park enough, based equally on the place’s contemporary feel and Fasy’s clear dedication to producing the state’s best sportsbook.
Dover Downs Hotel and Casino
Address: 1131 North DuPont Highway; Dover, Delaware
Distance from Philadelphia: 78 miles
Distance from Baltimore:106 miles
Distance from New York: 165 miles
Distance from Boston: 388 miles
When I first laid eyes on Dover Downs Hotel and Casino, my very first thought was of the glittering Off-Strip casinos sprinkled across the Las Vegas desert.
Places such as the South Point and Red Rock Resort, which combine sprawling hotel towers crossing several stories with classical design — that is what Dover Downs is about for.
And the illusion isn’t broken one piece when you walk through the doors. Vaulted ceilings, fancy artwork, and marble floors all combine to turn the place into a casino connoisseur’s dream come true. This place has conference halls, shopping outlets, and naturally, a racetrack where NASCAR events are hosted each year.
Head through the main entry and find the closest bar off to the side, and you’ll be smack dab in the sportsbook. Just search for the big comfy chairs and enormous projector screens overhead, and you’re there.
At first glance, the sportsbook centre at Dover Downs seems to indicate a flourishing enterprise set to capitalize on the demise of PASPA. And to be sure, the centre has expanded its offerings to include the full complement of single-game wagers, props, and futures.
However during my time , the attention from staff and customers alike stayed on horse racing. This makes sense I guess, what with the venue’s longstanding affiliation with the”Sport of Kings.”
I had been curious, but about the apparent absence of buzz concerning ordinary sports gambling, especially with the NBA and NHL Finals going on at the moment.
Just a little digging around told the narrative, like I discovered the following quotation from Dover Downs president Ed Sutor in an article published by theDelaware Public:
“It’s wonderful to have. [But] in Nevada, where they’ve had it for 50 years, it merely represents about two percent of their revenues.
A good deal of people are mistaking the amounts bet as the earnings.
It is not a huge take for the business.”
Sutor was not the only Dover Downs executive that seemed to be lukewarm at best as it came to enlarged sportsbooks in the nation:
Dover Downs Gamingchief executive officer Denis McGlynn threw cold water on the notion that sports betting would be an economic boon for the nation when talking to Delaware Online:
“There’s a lot of rhetoric that gets thrown around down there that doesn’t have some foundation in fact.People have to manage their expectations on this.
The dollars that are left after you pay back the winners are extremely little and you split it among many different people in this state.
When (surrounding states) get up and running, we’re just going to observe a draining of people that are coming , just as we have seen in the normal casino business and prior to that at the horse racing business.”
Even though a pragmatic business standpoint certainly is reasonable, especially from an operator’s perspective, I’m not sure I understand Dover Downs’ angle on this.
By neglecting to adopt the full spectrum of sports betting options open to Delaware, the place risks being left in Delaware Park’s dust. And perhaps that’s already the case.
This past year the state of Delaware accumulated $1.9 million in revenue on its parlay card games. From this figure, Delaware Park dominated the market with $1.2 million, almost three times that obtained in by Dover Downs ($422,000).
The lack of religion expressed by the higher-ups in Dover Downs appears to have trickled down to the team level. Clerks did not seem very educated when I inquired about futures betting, and unless you’re wagering on the ponies, nobody expressed the type excitement I felt back in Delaware Park.
And that is a shame too, because from the outside , this venue boasts the kind of conveniences every gambler appreciates.
Harrington Raceway and Casino
Address: 18500 S Dupont Hwy, Harrington, DE 19952
Distance from Philadelphia:99 miles
Distance from Baltimore:87 miles
Distance from New York: 186 miles
Distance from Boston:409 miles
Harrington Raceway is located incentral Delaware, only one hour and a half from Baltimore and Philadelphia.
But you’re going to be forgiven for driving right by the place without ever even noticing.
This casino has been affixed to some little harness racing track, and the entire grounds was built outside in the middle of nowhere.
The casino building’s exterior resembles that of non-denominational church, rather than much adorns it to imply gambling and amusement is afoot. It’s an interesting design choice to say the very least, and things do not exactly improve when you head indoors.
If you’ve ever been into the older Downtown district in Las Vegas — home of”fabulous” Fremont Street — you then know what to anticipate at Harrington Raceway. Rundown slot machines, aging d??cor, along with a normally sullen scene would be the defining characteristics of this casino floor.
Fortunately for bettors, the sportsbook area does offer a little bit of improvement — but only barely. Matters fell nicer in there, but the setup of personal cubicles with connected TV monitors — typical for racebooks — is not exactly inviting. The projector screens overhead are large and bright however, so I’ll give them that far.
Interestingly enough, Harrington Raceway’s chief executive officer Patti Key has yet to comment publicly about the legalization of sport gambling. Whether this speaks to some companywide philosophy highlighting horse racing over the sportsbook is not to me to say — but Key staying tight-lipped is pretty intriguing.
Because of the track’s status as a serious harness racing facility, the sportsbook is generally crowded before scheduled start times. If you are there for sports just, be sure to catch a copy of the daily racing form to see when the lines will probably start stacking up.
A nice byproduct of the place’s serious approach to horse racing is the staff are prepared and ready to roll. I needed to fix a couple of ticket writers from time to time in the other two sportsbooks, but the folks in Harrington batted 1.000 in relation to accuracy.
Overall, the experience surpassed what I would have expected when I first saw the building, which is likely the reason why they say to never judge a book by it’s cover.
Based on the place you call home, among the three places listed above will be the most suitable based solely on closeness. That is probably reason enough to select a favorite, but since Delaware is a small state, you can hit all three inside a weekend to view them up close and personal.
In regard to my own tour of the nation’s sportsbooks, I preferred Delaware Park, Harrington Raceway, and Dover Downs in this order.
Delaware Park benefits from the excitement of its leadership, as Fasy brings a genuine interest in the sports gambling business to the table. His staff are genuinely eager to assist new bettors learn the principles, and that goes a long way in my book. When the very first online sportsbooks go reside in the very first State, I’ll bet my bottom Delaware Park is running the series.
Harrington Raceway may not be much to check at, but the place knows how to conduct a racebook. The staff can answer questions and guide you through the process easily. Whether this victory extends to sports gambling remains to be seen, however I’ve a feeling serious bettors will call this place home.
As for Dover Downs, my feelings on the situation are simple — when the people in control do not appreciate sports betting, they won’t enjoy sports bettors either. Until I hear word about a change in tone coming down the chain of control, I just wouldn’t anticipate that the mistakes and malaise here to be resolved anytime soon.
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