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Delaware Still Lobbying for Sportsbooks

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The State of Delaware has long been trying to enact legislation that would allow gambling on sports as a way to raise much needed revenue.

Delaware is the only state east of the Mississippi River that is, under federal law, allowed to offer this type of gambling. There are three other states, Montana, Oregon, and Nevada that have laws pre-dating the federal governments ban on sports betting, which allow them to utilize this type of wagering. Of those, only Nevada does take full advantage of the law.

Gary Ward, a lobbyist for International Sports Link, Inc., said that, “the estimated annual revenues of $70 million are conservative.” Ward said he would like to see sports betting expanded to beyond the confines of the three established racinos currently in operation in Delaware.

Governor Ruth Ann Minner has previously gone on record as opposed to sports betting and said she will veto any legislation for it.

Ward believes the governor’s position may have weakened a bit as she has agreed to the formation of a task force to study the issue.

The state of Delaware, as well as most other states, are in the middle of a financial crunch and are seeking ways to generate much needed revenue.

Ward is lobbying for sports betting parlors to be open in areas such as Rehoboth Beach-Lewes, which is a resort destination area, and Seaford-Laurel area, which is further inland.

Ward stated that with the “crackdown on Internet sports betting, the demand for this form of gambling is even higher. Delaware needs this ? it’s a gold mine, it is wide open to the whole Northeast corridor.”

Delaware and State Lottery officials would like to see sports gambling only at existing, established racinos, claiming that sports betting alone may not be enough to attract significant numbers of new gamblers.

Ward?s argument is that “From my perspective, these are destination players who are not interested in slot machines, although they are interested in horse racing, so simulcasting should be included.”

George Bunting, D-Bethany Beach, first proposed the idea several years ago for sports betting saying, “I’m not a great advocate of gambling, but it still goes on.”

Bunting thinks the task force should take a look at sports betting beyond the three racinos, “Placing betting just at the three racinos may ultimately not be the way to produce the most money,” Bunting said.

Dan Short, a republican from Seaford serving his first term in the House agreed with Bunting, and said the task force should take a serious look at Ward?s proposal. “Potential parlors on Route 1, Route 13 and Route 113 should be put on the table.” He said, adding, “It would bring 80 to 100 new jobs to Sussex County plus the additional revenue.”