Delaware: The First State of Online Gambling?

14 February 2013

Delaware hopes to take its First State status to a whole new level as it pushes to be the First State to offer online gambling.

With Nevada only offering online poker licenses and New Jersey scrambling to pull together a bill that Governor Chris Christie will approve, Delaware is forging ahead, requesting proposals from vendors to operate the state’s centralized Internet gambling system. Those bidding on the project would have to guarantee everything would be up and running by September 30, 2013.

Delaware had assumed it would already be up and earning revenue by now, especially since the Delaware Gaming Competitiveness Act was approved in June 2012. Other pieces of the legislation, like extablishing a statewide Keno network and expanding football parlay wagering into non-casino venues, took longer to implement than was expected. That being said, the Delaware Lottery Office intends to award contracts by early May, which could put them ahead of New Jersey in terms of an online gambling launch.

From a contractor point of view, getting established in Delaware would be a huge advantage in terms of brand recognition, longevity, and experience. Scientific Games, the company who currently powers the video lottery games in Delaware, recently acquired WMS, a slot manufacturer with three years of online casino experience in the UK. The move could position the company well not only in Delaware, but in other opportunistic states.

As with other states considering online gambling, Delaware will still be limited by federal law. Gamblers will need to be physically located within the state’s borders to participate in online gambling. Creating interstate compacts will be the next major hurdle for the budding industry, and, with a neighbor like New Jersey that has to protect its own interests in Atlantic City, those relationships may be hard to come by.