Sports betting launched at three Delaware racetracks Sept. 10, but officials are unsure how much revenue limited parlay wagering will generate.
The state and the tracks had planned to offer wagering on single games and sports other than pro football, but a court ruled they couldn’t do so. The plan was opposed by professional sports leagues and the National College Athletic Association.
The state was banking on tens of millions of dollars in revenue each year, and the tracks spent millions of dollars to upgrade existing race books that previously offer only full-card simulcasts.
At 10 a.m., betting was available starting with the Sept. 11 National Football League season opening game; the rest are scheduled for Sept. 13-14. Bettors can play no less than three games in the parlay, and all teams must win to cash.
Chuck Rudd of Newark, Del., made the first sports bet at the new Delaware Park Race and Sports Book.
“It feels good to be the first bettor,” said Rudd, who would win $110 if his selected teams win. “As a sports fan, I never thought sports betting would be legalized outside Nevada, but it’s a great new offering to bring to the state of Delaware that will give citizens an exciting new entertainment option.”
The three tracks—Delaware Park, Dover Downs, and Harrington Raceway & Casino—already have video lottery terminals and are open year-round for full-card simulcasts. They believe sports betting, even on a limited basis, will give them a little edge over the Atlantic City casinos in neighboring New Jersey.
During a press conference, Delaware Park chief operating officer Bill Fasy said officials are hoping parlay sports betting attracts interest.
“In the last week, the excitement has been building,” Fasy said. “We think NFL fans will embrace parlay sports betting. In fact, with all the inquiries we have been getting, we have started calling it ‘Parlay-mania.’ The entire staff at Delaware Park has worked hard to ensure we provide the very best atmosphere and customer service for our guests to watch and wager on NFL games.”
Delaware Park has floor-to-ceiling video walls that show racing and sports. Information on NFL games is updated regularly, and parlay betting cards will be available each Thursday by noon, officials said.
Under a deal with horsemen, the racetracks will pay 9.6% of revenue from sports betting to purses. Horsemen receive 9% of revenue from VLTs; legislation awards purses 4.5% of revenue from table games when they become operational at the tracks.