After the Governor of Delaware plunked down $10 on June 5 to back his beloved Philadelphia Phillies over the Chicago Cubs, the wager signaled the start of a new age in American sports gambling.
Governor John Carney’s flier on the Phillies managed to create a $20 profit too, following the (+200) underdogs managed to upset the Cubbies.
That ceremonial bet positioned at Dover Downs Hotel and Casino was quickly followed by many bigger tickets purchased by more severe bettors, including a string of $500 baseball bets placed by local ace Stu Feiner.
All in all, across the country’s three racetrack / casino venues — Delaware Park, Dover Downs Hotel & Casino, and Harrington Raceway & Casino — collected $322,135 at wagers on the first day of business. That amount comes straight from Delaware Lottery manager Vernon Kirk, who heads the regulatory group helping to get Delaware’s sports betting business ready to go.
Residents of and visitors to Delaware have managed to partly bet on sports for many decades, but only on”parlay cards” based on National Football League (NFL) games. Those parlay cards required many winners to be linked together, and also the only tickets that cashed were those that showed all winners.
Conventional single-game or fixed-odds sports betting, a la what you find in a Las Vegas sportsbook, wasn’t accessible Delaware — or any American state other than Nevada for that matter. Under a federal law known as the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) of 1992, single-game sports betting was prohibited everywhere but the Silver State.
That all changed on May 14, however, when the United States Supreme Court issued a landmark 6-3 judgment in a case known as Murphy v. NCAA. That case originated in New Jersey, following the Garden State made continued efforts to pass its own 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 final appeal to the Supreme Court wound up at the winning column.
Whenever 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 put the final touches on its statewide regulations.
However, while lawmakers in New Jersey took their time, their counterparts in Delaware already had legal frameworks set up as a result of their parlay card surgery. Called the First State for a motive, Delaware moved quickly to become the first state out of Nevada to accept lawful sports wagers.
Here is how Governor Carney explained the sports betting launching in an interview with ESPN Chalk:
“For us, it’s really an enhancement of our tourism industry.
It will attract a lot of visitors to our nation, especially in this time of year, throughout the summer, coming to our lovely beaches south of this.
They come here and stop at the casinos and do slot machine and table gaming. This will be another opportunity for them.”
Carney also took a moment to hype Delaware as the Northeast’s latest sports gambling destination when speaking to USA Today:
“Gloating in this business does not last very long.
We’re happy to be first now.
I don’t expect we will be the only one quite long, but now it feels very good to be first.”
Carney’s historic first wager was set at Dover Downs Hotel and Casino, however, the country is home to two racetrack / casinos using in-house sportsbooks: Delaware Park Racetrack and Harrington Raceway and Casino.
Until the sportsbooks at Atlantic City go live — that should be any moment 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 those casinos from all corners of the Northeast.
To help get you started on your sports betting journey, I’ve gone ahead and seen each of the three sportsbooks in Delaware. Below you will find objective and honest reviews of each centre, along with have to know information such as the address, contact number, website, and distances from regional population centres.
Check out my reviews of the 3 sportsbook venues now operating in Delaware to create a more educated decision with your betting 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 at the very northernmost point of the state, in town of Wilmington, Delaware Park Racetrack is the most conveniently accessible venue for people in New York and New England.
It is also the most attractive of this trio, the casino facility nestled near the banks of the Delaware River along a grassy green hill. From the exterior, Delaware Park seems to be just another stately three-story property, but once you step foot in you’ll feel as if you’ve walked on the casino floor in Las Vegas.
Between the slot machines, bright lights, and golden trim, this place is much more like the Golden Nugget than your typical rural racetrack.
Once you discover the sportsbook places — that are located in the clubhouses around the 1st and 3rd floors — you’ll be greeted by an array of brightly colored tiny lightbulbs exhibiting the day’s lines and odds. These gambling boards used to be cutting edge in Las Vegas about 10 years back, but Sin City has phased them out in favour of high-definition television screens instead.
But you know what they say about a man’s trash being another’s treasure, therefore Delaware Park is pleased to have the gambling boards on site.
Just ask William Fasy, who serves as president of Delaware Park. Through an interview with Deadspin to celebrate his sportsbook opening for company, Fasy touted his place’s most prominent technological flourish:
“These boards were purchased eight decades ago, and they’re no more used in Vegas.
But they are the best boards in Delaware!”
If you are unfamiliar with a sportsbook betting board the image below will show you exactly what I’m discussing.
Sports Book Beting Board
As you can see, each game or wager is coded using a base number (401, 402, etc. in the example image above). When betting on 401 from the image above, you would be backing the Minnesota Vikings (-10) over the Los Angeles Rams. This (-10) figure denotes the point spread, therefore in this case, that the Vikings will be laying 10 points to the Rams.
If you wanted to take Minnesota with no spread, just look for the positive or negative amounts to the right of the point spread. These figures are called the”moneyline,” plus they reflect true odds on your wager. For the Vikings instance, you’d be backing a large (-600) preferred, even though a bet on the underdog Rams would offer (+400) on your money.
Each team or participant will have their own number, so you’d simply tell the clerk”$100 on 401moneyline please” to place a c-note down on the Vikes.
In addition to the fancy betting boards, Delaware Park has also put up a bank of self employed wagering kiosks. These were not up and running just yet when I visited the centre, but they seemed like ATM machines from the early 1990s. Think a boxy frame, small screen, and no-nonsense interface and you’ll get the idea.
It is possible to bet for your heart’s content at Delaware Park, which offers daily actions on Major League Baseball (MLB), plus the National Basketball Association (NBA) Finals, and a slew of everyday golf and tennis tournaments.
If you’re interested in futures betting, have a shot in the upcoming 2018 World Cup soccer tournament, or try and predict that NFL team will take the Super Bowl title this year.
Fasymade it clear in a form of meet and greets with the regional press that Delaware Park will be going”all in” on its sportsbook. According to him, each Kind of gambling will probably be on the desk, save one:
“I think the only thing we are not likely to offer is’in sport’ wagering.
You’re likely to have prop bets. You’re just not going to have in game prop bets going on.
And you’re going to have a mobile device”
The notion of in-game gambling was popularized by online sportsbooks, with players able to put extra wagers even as the game is ongoing. Say your group falls into an early hole, and you’re keen on balancing the ledger. Putting an in-game wager on the other side provides valuable protection against upsets and unforeseen circumstances.
While the in-game betting fad won’t be coming into Delaware Park just yet, Fasy did allude to the emergence of mobile and online wagering in the future.
Do not overlook, Delaware is one of just three states — along with Nevada and New Jersey — where a legal and regulated online gaming industry has already gone live. With online casinos and poker rooms currently hosted by the country’s three casino racetracks, it will not be long until you can download the Delaware Park sportsbook program directly for your smartphone or mobile device.
When it comes to customer support, Delaware Park really hit the ball out of the park. Under guidance from Fasy — who’s clearly enthusiastic about turning the area into a sports bettor’s harbor — the team here are knowledgeable and courteous. Sure, a couple hiccups could be observed in terms of erroneous tickets and the like, such as my futures bet on the Miami Dolphins season win total being entered as a Miami Marlins moneyline by error.
But those growing pains are to be expected for any new sportsbook. Thanks to this useful attendants, I was able to cancel the Marlins ticket and then swap it for the Dolphins in a couple of minutes.
All in all, I can not recommend Delaware Park enough, based equally on the venue’s modern sense and Fasy’s clear commitment to creating the nation’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 Dover Downs Hotel and Casino, my first thought was of the glittering Off-Strip casinos scattered throughout the Las Vegas desert.
Places like the South Point and Red Rock Resort, which combine sprawling hotel towers spanning several stories with classical design — that is what Dover Downs is about for.
And the illusion isn’t broken one bit when you walk through the doors. Vaulted ceilings, fancy artwork, and marble flooring all unite to turn the place into a casino connoisseur’s dream come true. This place includes conference halls, shopping outlets, and naturally, a racetrack where NASCAR events are hosted each year.
Head through the main entrance and locate the nearest bar off to the side, and you will be smack dab at the sportsbook. Just search for the big comfy chairs and enormous projector displays overhead, and you’re there.
At first glance, the sportsbook centre at Dover Downs seems to suggest a thriving enterprise set to capitalize on the passing 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. That makes sense I suppose, what with the place’s longstanding association with the”Sport of Kings.”
I was curious, however, about the apparent absence of buzz concerning ordinary sports gambling, especially with the NBA and NHL Finals going on in the time.
A little digging around advised the tale, like I discovered the following quote from Dover Downs president Ed Sutor in an article published by theDelaware Public:
“It’s wonderful to have. [But] in Nevada, in which they have had it for 50 decades, it only represents about two percent of the earnings.
A good deal of people are mistaking the amounts bet as the revenue.
It’s not a huge take for the business.”
Sutor was not the only Dover Downs executive who appeared to be lukewarm at best as it came to enlarged sportsbooks in the state:
Dover Downs Gamingchief executive officer Denis McGlynn threw cold water on the notion that sports betting would be an economic boon for the state when speaking to Delaware Online:
“There’s a lot of rhetoric that gets thrown around down there that doesn’t have some foundation in fact.People need to control their expectations on this.
The dollars that are left over after you pay off the winners are extremely little and you divide it among many different people within this state.
When (surrounding states) wake up and running, we’re just going to see a draining of individuals who are coming here, just as we have observed in the normal casino business and before this at the horse racing business.”
While a pragmatic business standpoint certainly makes sense, particularly by an operator’s perspective, I am not sure I know Dover Downs’ angle on this.
By neglecting to adopt the entire spectrum of sports betting options now open to Delaware, the place risks being abandoned in Delaware Park’s dust. And maybe that is already true.
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 taken in by Dover Downs ($422,000).
The absence of religion expressed from the higher-ups at Dover Downs appears to have trickled down to the staff level. Clerks did not seem very educated when I inquired about futures betting, and unless you’re wagering on the ponies, nobody voiced the kind excitement I felt back in Delaware Park.
And that’s a pity too, because from the outside , this venue boasts the type 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.
However, you’re going to be forgiven for driving by the place without even noticing.
This casino is affixed to a small harness racing course, and the entire grounds was built outside in the middle of nowhere.
The casino building’s exterior resembles that of non-denominational church, and not much adorns it to suggest gambling and amusement is afoot. It is an interesting design choice to say the least, and things don’t exactly enhance when you head indoors.
If you’ve ever been into the older Downtown district in Las Vegas — home of”fabulous” Fremont Street — then you know what to expect at Harrington Raceway. Rundown slot machines, aging d??cor, along with a generally sullen scene are the defining characteristics of the casino floor.
Luckily for bettors, the sportsbook area does offer a bit of advancement — but just barely. Things fell nicer in there, but the setup of private cubicles with connected TV monitors — typical for racebooks — isn’t exactly inviting. The projector screens overhead are large and bright though, so I will give them that far.
Interestingly enough, Harrington Raceway’s chief executive officer Patti Key has yet to comment publicly on the legalization of sport gambling. Whether that speaks to some companywide philosophy emphasizing horse racing over the sportsbook is not for me to say but Key remaining tight-lipped is pretty intriguing.
Due to the monitor’s status as a serious harness racing centre, the sportsbook is generally crowded ahead of scheduled start times. If you are there for sports just, make sure you catch a copy of the daily racing form to observe when the lines will probably start piling up.
A nice byproduct of this place’s serious approach to horse racing is that the staff are prepared and ready to roll. I had to correct a few ticket authors from time to time at the other two sportsbooks, but the folks at Harrington batted 1.000 in terms of precision.
Overall, the experience surpassed what I would have expected when I first saw the construction, which is probably why they say never to judge a book by it’s cover.
Based on where you call home, one of the 3 places listed above will be the most convenient based solely on closeness. That is probably reason enough to choose a favorite, but because Delaware is a small state, it is possible to hit all three inside a weekend to see them up close and personal.
In terms of my own tour of the state’s sportsbooks, I preferred Delaware Park, Harrington Raceway, and Dover Downs in this order.
Delaware Park benefits from the enthusiasm of its direction, as Fasy attracts a genuine interest in the sports gambling business to the table. His staff are genuinely eager to help new bettors learn the ropes, and that goes a long way in my book. When the very first online sportsbooks go live in the very first State, I’ll bet my bottom Delaware Park is running the show.
Harrington Raceway might not be much to look at, but the venue knows how to conduct a racebook. The staff can answer questions and lead you through the process easily. Whether that success goes to sports gambling remains to be seen, however I have a sense serious bettors can call this place home.
In terms of Dover Downs, my feelings about the problem are easy — when the people in control do not appreciate sports gambling, they won’t enjoy sports bettors . Until I hear word about a change in tone coming down the chain of control, I simply wouldn’t expect the mistakes and malaise here to be resolved anytime soon.
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