With the U.S. Supreme Court willing to hear an appeal from New Jersey over its attempt to legalize sports betting, some in Delaware hope a decision in that case could lead to expanded sports betting in the First State.
Delaware Finance Secretary Rick Geisenberger said at a recent state revenue meeting that there is already planning underway for a path to expand sports betting to include other professional sports and forms of wagering, depending on how the high court rules on New Jersey’s challenge to a federal ban on sports betting. Some legal experts believe the case could lead to widespread Las-Vegas-styled betting across the country.
Grandfathered in under the 1992 federal ban, Delaware is among four states that can legally offer a form of sports betting. A U.S. District Court decision limited the state to offering multi-game parlay bets on the outcomes of NFL games. Bets can be placed on how a team fares against a point spread or the number of points scored in a game, with wagers being accepted at all three of Delaware’s casinos and many retailers and restaurants.
Although it’s unclear whether a potential expansion of sports betting would be allowed at some Delaware Lottery retailers, Dave Hollen with Cheswold News & Tobacco said he wants to be able to offer wagers on games in the MLB and NBA to his customers. Retailers were eventually phased into the existing sports betting system, with casinos initially being the only place where bets could be placed.
“It brings them in and they spend more money in the store. Hopefully, they win and they cash their ticket and spend more money in the store,” he said.
But some people believe expanded sports betting could be harmful, particularly to people with gambling addictions.
“It does not help. You lose more than you gain,” said Rev. Rita Mishoe Paige with Star Hill A.M.E. Church.
Some people who have made parlay bets in Delaware’s existing sports betting system believe some people who otherwise would not make a wager may end up placing bets if single-game bets are offered.
“Most people got a favorite team and they don’t want to bet on three teams,” said Chris Morris of Cheswold.
A ruling could be made on New Jersey’s challenge in June. Some state leaders have indicated they believe Delaware’s existing sports betting law would allow the state to implement expanded wagering without legislative involvement.