When the Governor of Delaware plunked down $10 on June 5 to back his beloved Philadelphia Phillies over the Chicago Cubs, the bet indicated the start of a new age in American sports betting.
Governor John Carney’s flier about the Phillies even managed to create a $20 profit also, following the (+200) underdogs were able to upset that the Cubbies.
That ceremonial bet placed at Dover Downs Hotel and Casino was quickly followed by many larger tickets bought by more serious bettors, including a series of $500 baseball bets placed by local ace Stu Feiner.
All in all, across the country’s three racetrack / casino places — Delaware Park, Dover Downs Hotel & Casino, and Harrington Raceway & Casino — collected $322,135 in wagers on the first day of business. That amount comes straight from Delaware Lottery manager Vernon Kirk, who heads the regulatory team helping to get Delaware’s sports betting industry ready to go.
Residents of and visitors to Delaware have managed to partially bet on sports for several decades, but merely on”parlay cards” according to National Football League (NFL) games. Those parlay cards required several winners to be connected 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, was not accessible Delaware — or any American state other than Nevada for that matter. Under a federal law called the skilled and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) of 1992, single-game sports betting was banned anywhere 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 called Murphy v. NCAA. This case originated in New Jersey, after 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 final appeal to the Supreme Court wound up at the winning column.
When the Court ruled that PASPA violated the 10th amendment to the U.S. Constitution — which grants states the right to pass their own laws absent Congressional action — PASPA was struck down for good.
What followed that decision three months ago was a veritable gold rush, with New Jersey racing to put the final touches on its own statewide regulations.
But while lawmakers in New Jersey took their time, their counterparts from Delaware had legal frameworks in place as a result of their parlay card operation. Known as the First State for a reason, Delaware went quickly to become the first nation out of Nevada to accept legal sports wagers.
Here is how Governor Carney described the sports gambling launch in an interview with ESPN Chalk:
“For us, it is really an improvement of our tourism market.
It’ll attract a great deal of traffic to our state, especially in this time of year, throughout the summer, coming to our lovely beaches south of this.
They come here and stop in the casinos and also do slot machines and table gambling. This will be another chance for them.”
Carney also took a moment to hype Delaware since the Northeast’s newest sports betting destination when talking to USA Today:
“Gloating in this industry does not last quite long.
We’re happy to be first now.
I don’t expect we’ll be the only one quite long, but now it feels really good to be first.”
Carney’s historic first bet was placed at Dover Downs Hotel and Casino, however, the country is home to two racetrack / casinos with in-house sportsbooks: Delaware Park Racetrack and Harrington Raceway and Casino.
Until the sportsbooks in Atlantic City go live — that should be any moment now — Delaware stands out as the only spot 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 on your sports betting journey, I’ve gone ahead and seen each of the three sportsbooks in Delaware. Below you’ll find honest and objective reviews of each facility, along with need to know information such as the address, contact number, website, and distances from regional population centres.
Check out my reviews of those three sportsbook places now operating in Delaware to make 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
Situated at the very northernmost point of this state, in town of Wilmington, Delaware Park Racetrack is the most conveniently available venue for people in New York and New England.
It’s also the most attractive of this trio, the casino facility nestled near the banks of the Delaware River and also a grassy green mountain. From the outside, 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 gold trimming, this place is similar to the Golden Nugget than your average rural racetrack.
When you discover the sportsbook places — that are situated in the clubhouses around the 1st and 3rd floors — you will 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 out them in favour of high-definition tv screens instead.
But you know what they say about one person’s trash being another’s treasure, so Delaware Park is pleased to have the betting boards onsite.
Just ask William Fasy, that serves as president of Delaware Park. During a meeting with Deadspin to celebrate his sportsbook opening for company, Fasy touted his place’s most prominent technological boom:
“These boards were purchased eight decades ago, and they’re no more employed in Vegas.
But they are the top boards in Delaware!”
If you are unfamiliar with a sportsbook gaming enthusiast the picture below will show you what I’m talking about.
Sports Book Beting Board
As you can see, each game or wager is coded using a base amount (401, 402, etc., in the example picture above). When betting on 401 in the picture above, you would be backing the Minnesota Vikings (-10) within the Los Angeles Rams. That (-10) figure denotes the point spread, therefore in this scenario, that the Vikings would be putting 10 points to the Rams.
If you wished to take Minnesota without the spread, just look for the positive or negative amounts to the right of the point spread. These figures are known as the”moneyline,” plus they reflect true odds on your bet. For the Vikings example, you would be financing a big (-600) preferred, even though a bet on the underdog Rams would offer (+400) on your cash.
Each team or participant will have their own number, so you’d just tell the clerk”$100 on 401moneyline please” to put 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 facility, but they looked like ATM machines in the early 1990s. Think a boxy framework, small display, and no-nonsense interface and you’ll get the idea.
It is possible to bet for your heart’s content at Delaware Park, which provides daily actions on Major League Baseball (MLB), and also the National Basketball Association (NBA) Finals, along with a slew of everyday golfing and tennis tournaments.
If you’re interested in futures betting, take a shot at the forthcoming 2018 World Cup soccer championship, or try and predict which NFL team will take the Super Bowl title this year.
Fasymade it clear 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, every form of gambling will be on the desk, save one:
“I think the only thing we’re not likely to offer is’in sport’ wagering.
You are going to have prop bets. You are just not going to have in game prop bets going on.
And eventually you’re going to have a mobile device”
The concept of in-game gambling was popularized by online sportsbooks, with gamers able to put extra wagers even as the match is ongoing. Say your group falls into an early hole, and you are keen on balancing the ledger. Putting an in-game wager on the opposite side offers valuable protection against upsets and unexpected circumstances.
While the in-game betting fad won’t be coming into Delaware Park just yet, Fasy did allude to the development of mobile and internet wagering in the future.
Don’t overlook, Delaware is one of just three states — along with Nevada and New Jersey — where a regulated and legal online gaming industry has gone live. With internet casinos and poker rooms already hosted by the state’s three casino racetracks, it will not be long till you can download the Delaware Park sportsbook program directly for your smartphone or cellular device.
If it comes to customer service, Delaware Park really hit the ball out of the park. Under advice from Fasy — who is clearly enthused about turning the area into a sports bettor’s haven — the team here are knowledgeable and considerate. Sure, a couple hiccups could be seen in terms of incorrect tickets and the like, such as my futures wager on the Miami Dolphins season win total being entered as a Miami Marlins moneyline by mistake.
However, those growing pains are to be expected for any new sportsbook. Because of the helpful attendants, I was able to cancel the Marlins ticket and then exchange it to the Dolphins in a matter of minutes.
All in all, I can not recommend Delaware Park enough, based both on the place’s modern feel and Fasy’s clear commitment to producing 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 on Dover Downs Hotel and Casino, my first thought was of the glittering Off-Strip casinos scattered throughout the Las Vegas desert.
Places such as the South Point and Red Rock Resort, which unite sprawling hotel towers spanning a number of stories with classical design — that is what Dover Downs is going for.
And the illusion isn’t broken one piece 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 location has conference halls, shopping outlets, and naturally, a racetrack in which NASCAR events are hosted every year.
Head through the primary entrance and find the nearest bar off to the side, and you’ll be smack dab at the sportsbook. Just search for the big comfy chairs and enormous projector displays overhead, and you are there.
At first glance, the sportsbook facility at Dover Downs appears to suggest a flourishing enterprise set to capitalize on the demise of PASPA. And to be sure, the facility has expanded its offerings to include the complete complement of single-game wagers, props, and futures.
But during my time , the attention from staff and clients alike remained on horse racing. This makes sense I suppose, what with the place’s longstanding association with the”Sport of Kings.”
I was curious, however, about the apparent lack of buzz concerning ordinary sports betting, particularly with the NBA and NHL Finals going on at the moment.
A little digging around told the narrative, like I discovered the following quote from Dover Downs president Ed Sutor in an article published by theDelaware Public:
“It’s wonderful to have. [However ] at Nevada, where they have had it for 50 years, it merely represents about two percent of their revenues.
A lot of people are mistaking the amounts bet as the revenue.
It’s not a huge take for the business.”
Sutor wasn’t the only Dover Downs executive who seemed to be lukewarm at best when it came to enlarged sportsbooks in the state:
Dover Downs Gamingchief executive officer Denis McGlynn threw cold water on the notion that sports betting are an economic boon for the state when speaking to Delaware Online:
“There’s a lot of rhetoric that gets thrown around down there which doesn’t have some foundation in fact.People have to control their expectations on this.
The dollars that are left over after you pay off the winners are very little and you divide it among many different people in this nation.
When (surrounding countries ) get up and running, we’re just going to observe a draining of people that are coming , as we’ve observed in the regular casino industry and prior to that in the horse racing industry.”
While a pragmatic business outlook certainly is reasonable, particularly by an operator’s standpoint, I am 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 abandoned in Delaware Park’s dust. And perhaps that is already true.
Last year the state of Delaware collected $1.9 million in revenue on its own parlay card games. From this figure, Delaware Park dominated the marketplace with $1.2 million, nearly 3 times that obtained in by Dover Downs ($422,000).
The absence of religion expressed from the higher-ups at Dover Downs seems to have trickled down to the team level. Clerks did not seem very educated when I asked about futures betting, and unless you’re wagering on the ponies, nobody expressed the kind excitement I felt back at Delaware Park.
And that is a shame too, because from the outside in, this site boasts the type of amenities 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 right by the place without even noticing.
This casino is affixed to some small harness racing course, and the entire grounds was built out in the middle of nowhere.
The casino building’s exterior resembles that of non-denominational church, and not much adorns it to imply gambling and amusement is afoot. It is an interesting design choice to say the least, and things don’t exactly enhance when you go inside.
If you have ever been into the older Downtown district in Las Vegas — home of”fabulous” Fremont Street — then you know what to anticipate at Harrington Raceway. Rundown slot machines, aging d??cor, along with a generally sullen scene would be the defining characteristics of the casino floor.
Fortunately for bettors, the sportsbook place does provide a little bit of advancement — but just barely. Matters fell nicer in there, but the setup of personal cubicles with attached TV monitors — typical for racebooks — isn’t exactly inviting. The projector displays overhead are large and bright however, so I’ll give them that much.
Interestingly , Harrington Raceway’s chief executive officer Patti Key has yet to comment publicly on the legalization of sport gambling. Whether this speaks to a companywide philosophy highlighting horse racing over the sportsbook isn’t for me to say — but Key staying tight-lipped is pretty interesting.
Because of the monitor’s status as a severe harness racing facility, the sportsbook is generally crowded ahead of scheduled start times. If you are there for sports just, be sure to grab a copy of the daily racing form to observe when the lines will probably begin stacking up.
A nice byproduct of this place’s serious approach to horse racing is the staff are prepared and ready to roll. I had to correct a few ticket writers from time to time at both of the other sportsbooks, but the folks at Harrington batted 1.000 in terms of accuracy.
Overall, the experience surpassed that which I would’ve expected when I saw the building, which is likely why they say to never judge a book by it’s cover.
Based on the place you call home, one of the 3 venues listed above will be the most convenient based solely on closeness. That is probably reason enough to choose a favorite, but since Delaware is a small country, you can hit all three inside a weekend to view them up close and personal.
In terms of my own tour of the nation’s sportsbooks, I favored 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 betting industry to the table. His team are genuinely eager to help new bettors learn the ropes, which goes a long way in my own book. When the very first online sportsbooks go reside in the First State, I will bet my bottom Delaware Park is running the series.
Harrington Raceway may not be much to look at, but the venue knows how to conduct a racebook. The staff can answer questions and guide you through the process easily. Whether that victory extends to sports betting remains to be seen, but I have a sense severe bettors will call this place home.
As for Dover Downs, my feelings on the situation are easy — if the people in control do not appreciate sports betting, they wont appreciate sports bettors either. Until I hear word of a change in tone coming down the chain of control, I just wouldn’t anticipate the mistakes and malaise here to be resolved anytime soon.
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