What types of gambling are legal in Delaware?
Delaware has one of the largest selections of legal gambling in the United States. Regulated options run the gamut from common forms such as a state lottery and charity bingo up to full-service casinos and sports betting. Most of Delaware’s legal gambling is regulated by the state lottery.
There are also multiple forms of legal online gambling in Delaware. These include horse racing, daily fantasy sports, online poker and online casino games.
Legal Delaware Gambling Sites
Types of legal Delaware gambling and where to find them:
- Horse racing betting (live, off-track and mobile)
- Lottery (scratch-offs, keno and lotto sales at retailers)
- Slots, video poker and table games (at the state’s three video lottery casinos)
- Bingo and raffles (only at registered charities)
- Poker (video lottery casinos and charities)
- Online poker (through state lottery)
- Online slots and video poker (through state lottery)
- Online table games (through state lottery)
- Daily fantasy sports (online only)
Delaware Online Gambling
Delaware has a history of “firsts” when it comes to gaming. In addition to being the first state to accept a legal sports bet outside of Nevada, Delaware was also the first state to legalize and regulate online gambling.
Online gambling was legalized in 2012 with the passage of the Delaware Gaming Competitiveness Act of 2012 (full text here). This law granted the Delaware Lottery the authority to operate slots and other casino games through websites managed by Dover Downs, Delaware Park and Harrington Raceway.
All three race tracks now offer real money games for residents of Delaware 21 and older at the following websites:
All three gambling sites are run as partnerships between the local racetrack and gaming software provider 888. Each Delaware gambling site maintains its own style of branding, but the experience is basically identical across all three sites aside from styling. With 888 providing the software for all three sites, you will find little difference between one gambling site and the next.
Online gambling falls under the purview of the Delaware Lottery. However, the Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) assists in conducting suitability checks for entities that request licenses from the Delaware Lottery to offer various types of games. The DGE also assists the lottery in drafting rules and regulations for licensed gaming providers.
Currently, Delaware online casinos are permitted to offer traditional casino games such as slots and table games in addition to online poker. In other words, online casinos in Delaware are able to offer the same types of games you would find in person at a brick-and-mortar casino.
All three Delaware casino sites offer welcome bonuses to new players and run regular promotions that are worth a look. Just be warned going in: the websites for these three casinos are seriously lacking in design. None of these looks anything like a modern online casino when you look at the website alone.
The good news is the actual software powering everything provides high-quality games developed by 888 and its partners. If you can get beyond the dated websites, you’ll find the actual casino games are perfectly modern.
Delaware Online Gambling Laws
The first form of legalized online gambling in Delaware was horse racing betting. It was permitted through a policy change by the Delaware Thoroughbred Racing Commission under the Horseracing Act. Players must be at least 18 years of age.
Online poker and casino games came next. HB 333 was the law that allowed these games. It was signed into law on June 28, 2012. The games went live on November 8, 2013. While mobile sports betting is legal in Delaware, at this point, sports betting is only permitted at racinos and some lottery retailers. No mobile app is live in the state. Online poker and casino players, and sports betting app users when available, must be at least 21 years of age.
Delaware and Nevada entered into Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement in 2014. This included framework for sharing online poker liquidity, including minimum regulatory standards and player protections. New Jersey later entered the pact. WSOP.com and the Delaware racinos created a network using 888 software that connects online poker players in these three states at the same tables.
The tax rate on online gambling is 100 percent of the first three million dollars annually. It drops to 43 percent on remaining gross gaming revenue.
Daily fantasy sports contests were legalized in 2017 through HB 249. It was signed into law on July 26 of that year. The law permits anyone 18 years of age or older in the state to play.
There are three land-based casinos in Delaware. Each has a horse racing track. All partner with the Delaware Lottery.
All typical casino games are found in Delaware. This includes slots, video poker, keno, live poker, blackjack, craps, roulette, baccarat, proprietary table games and electronic ones.
Delaware Casino Laws
Delaware does not require a constitutional amendment to expand gambling if the state lottery regulates the activity. In 1994, video lottery was legalized at the state’s three race tracks. This was done through an amendment to Title 29 Chapter 48. This brought slots, video poker and electronic table games to the state.
The video lottery law was amended in 2010. This added live table games, including poker, blackjack, craps, roulette, Three Card Poker and Ultimate Texas Hold’em.
The minimum age for Delaware casinos is 21. The race tracks receive a 42 percent commission for operating the games. The remainder of the money is split between maintenance, administration, taxes and horsemen purses.
Delaware Sports Betting
Delaware has the proud distinction of being the first state other than Nevada to legalize and regulate Vegas-style sports betting. That happened on June 5th, 2018, when a Delaware casino accepted the first sports bet in recent history that was legal and based on the outcome of a single game.
A few states’ lotteries offered sports-style games over the years, but Delaware got the ball rolling in the United States by specifically authorizing single-game sports betting just like they offer at the sportsbooks of Las Vegas. In 2018, Delaware Governor John Carney gave the state’s three casinos permission to open full-service sportsbooks accepting all the major types of sports bets on all professional and college sports leagues.
Delaware sports betting operated in three phases over the years. In 1976, the state lottery sold parlay cards on NFL games. This lasted a single season. However, the state was exempted from the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA) due to this existing law, even though the games were dormant.
In 2009, Delaware attempted to expand sports betting to straight bets and exotics on all sports. The Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the state could only offer the same betting as was available before the federal law took effect. The law stayed on the books and the Delaware Lottery sold parlay cards until PASPA was overturned by the US Supreme Court in 2018.
Today, there are two ways to make sports bets in Delaware. Parlay cards are sold at some Delaware Lottery retailers. Straight bets, all exotics, and all other sports, must be wagered at one of the state’s three racinos.
Delaware Sportsbooks: Retail In-Person Betting
Delaware Online Sports Betting
Online sports betting is not yet legal in Delaware. Current state laws restrict wagering to land-based casinos, but lawmakers have indicated an interest in exploring new avenues for sports wagers. Online sports betting, mobile betting and possibly retail betting are all possibilities – in the future.
If in-person sports betting continues to run smoothly in Delaware and the state avoids any major issues such as an underage gambling scandal or something of that nature, online sports betting will be more palatable and lawmakers should feel more confident in being able to regulate the industry.
We should also keep in mind Delaware already permits online poker and casino games. Delaware Park, Dover Downs and Harrington Raceway all run online casinos that allow state residents 21 and older to play real money games online. The state is clearly comfortable with certain forms of online gambling, so mobile sports betting would be the next logical step.
In the meantime, the state’s three physical casinos are the only places where sports betting is unquestionably legal. If and when that changes, we’ll let you know right here.
Delaware Sports Betting Laws
Delaware gained the ability to legalize and regulate sports betting after a 2018 Supreme Court decision found the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA) unconstitutional.
While it was in effect, PASPA made it unlawful for all states except Nevada to “sponsor, operate, advertise, promote, license, or authorize” sports betting. In short, PASPA granted Nevada a virtual monopoly over sports betting in the United States for 25 years.
PASPA provided exemptions for sports betting schemes that were already authorized at the time the law took effect, but these were limited forms of betting. Certain parlay-style sports games run by the lottery in Delaware and Oregon were grandfathered in. Montana also received an exemption for a non-house-backed betting squares game that was permitted in facilities with liquor licenses.
Delaware’s exemption was for three-team or bigger NFL parlay cards sold by the state lottery. The Delaware Lottery sold these three-team parlays for a few months back in 1976. The lottery discontinued the practice after a single NFL season, but that was enough to grant Delaware an exemption for that one, specific type of sports betting.
As far as true, single-game sports betting was concerned, Nevada was the only state in the Union exempted from PASPA.
Delaware Attempts to Legalize Sports Betting in 2009
Lawmakers revived the NFL parlays in 2009 in an attempt to help cover state budget shortfalls amid a sluggish economy. That wasn’t all. Lawmakers also wanted to bring real, Vegas-style sports betting to Delaware.
So, in 2009, the legislature passed a bill authorizing single game sports betting. The NCAA, MLB, NFL, NBA and NHL sued to stop the law from taking effect. After a brief legal battle, the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit ruled against Delaware on grounds that the law was a clear violation of PASPA.
The leagues were successful in stopping the law from taking effect, but the law was never officially repealed. It remained on the books and unenforced. Delaware retained the ability to offer three-game NFL parlays, but all other forms of sports betting remained prohibited.
A Win for New Jersey Opens Doors in Delaware
In 2012, lawmakers in New Jersey passed a law legalizing sports betting at local casinos and race tracks. Once again, the sports leagues stepped in and sued to stop the law from taking effect.
New Jersey contested the case in court, but ultimately the Third Circuit shut down that effort as well. New Jersey petitioned the Supreme Court to take the case, but the Supreme Court declined to take the case.
Rather than give up, New Jersey mounted a second challenge by passing a different law seeking to decriminalize sports betting. The leagues sued yet again and won in district court, then again in front of the Third Circuit after New Jersey appealed the first ruling.
New Jersey again petitioned the Supreme Court to hear the case. This was widely viewed as a last-ditch effort and many at the time predicted the Supreme Court would deny the request as it did the last time around. However, the Supreme Court surprised nearly everyone following the case by announcing it would indeed hear the case.
Both sides presented oral arguments in front of the Supreme Court in late 2017. It was around this time momentum began to change. Those following the case reported that comments and questions from the Justices during the oral arguments phase seemed to indicate sympathy for New Jersey’s side of the argument.
Several months passed with no word from the Supreme Court, but it finally announced its decision on May 14th of 2018: PASPA is unconstitutional, must be stricken down and New Jersey is free to proceed with its sports betting law.
It was a big win not just for New Jersey, but for all states interested in sports betting. PASPA was the only federal law preventing states from legalizing and authorizing sports betting and it was officially dead. This gave Delaware the green light to revive its own sports betting ambitions.
Delaware Becomes First State to Launch Sports Betting
Delaware was able to beat New Jersey to the punch thanks to the 2009 law that was never repealed. After the Supreme Court’s decision, Delaware revived the law and authorized sports betting without having to write, introduce and pass new legislation.
Delaware’s three casinos went live with sports betting at 1:30 PM ET on Tuesday, June 5, 2018. Governor John Daley celebrated the occasion with a press conference at Dover Downs. In front of the gathered media, Gov. Daley placed the nation’s first legal sports bet anywhere outside Nevada. His wager: a $10 bet on the Philadelphia Phillies at +200 to beat the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field.
Poker is legal in three forms in Delaware. The state’s three racinos have live poker rooms. Charities may also operate poker rooms. The state lottery also regulates three online poker sites that network with WSOP.com in Nevada and New Jersey.
Online poker was legalized in Delaware with the same law that legalized online gambling. As is the case with gambling, all three poker sites in Delaware are powered by software from 888 Holdings.
Delaware’s poker sites got off to a slow start in the early stages due to the state’s small population. With fewer potential players to draw from, poker sites had a tough time building a sustainable player base to keep games populated at all hours. At one point, it looked like poker was a lost cause in Delaware.
Things began to change for the better after Delaware signed an agreement with New Jersey and Nevada allowing providers active in all three states to share players across state lines. With 888 active in all three states, this means players in Delaware now have access to a much larger player pool.
Delaware still has some room for improvement when it comes to traffic, but things are moving in the right direction. The player sharing agreement has already had positive effects and should continue to provide growth over coming years.
Getting started with online poker in Delaware is as simple as visiting Dover Downs Online, Delaware Park Online or Harrington Gaming Online. The front page of each website displays a prominent link to the poker room, where you can download the software and sign up for an account.
Delaware Poker Laws
Live poker at the racinos was included in the 2010 table game expansion. Charities may spread Texas Hold’em poker games, including one tournament every 70 days. The maximum prize may not be higher than $5,000. The aggregate prize pool may not exceed $13,000.
Online poker was legalized under Title 29 Chapter 48 in the Delaware Code in 2012. It permits the lottery to spread online poker games and network with sites in other states.
Delaware Daily Fantasy Sports
Delaware became the 14th state to legalize daily fantasy sports contests. This occurred in 2017. FanDuel and DraftKings, which had previously left the state, returned and received licensing. Delaware fantasy sports players may participate in any sport’s contests. However, it must be a professional event. College and high school contests are not permitted.
Delaware Fantasy Sports Laws
The Delaware Interactive Fantasy Contests Act legalized the games in Delaware. It declared fantasy sports a game of skill. The state licensed DraftKing, FanDuel and Yahoo to operate in the state. Amateur sporting events, such as high school and college ones, are barred from Delaware fantasy sports games. Fantasy sports contest entrants must be at least 18 years of age.
The Delaware Lottery manages most forms of legalized gambling in the state. The traditional games include instant games, lotto drawings and keno. There is also sports betting and video lottery games at the state’s three racinos.
The Delaware Lottery sells over 30 scratch-off games at any given time. Ticket prices start at $1 and run to $25. Keno games are held every four minutes most hours of the day. Ticket may be bought for $1 up to $20.
Seven lotto games are offered by the Delaware Lottery. Four are interstate pools. The other three are only played within Delaware.
Interstate Delaware Lotto Games
- Lotto America
- Lucky for Life
- Mega Millions
Intrastate Delaware Lotto Games
- Play 3
- Play 4
- Multi-Win Lotto
Delaware Lottery Laws
The Delaware Lottery has been permitted in the state since its inception. The term was never defined. This left the door open for Delaware to permit any form of gambling under the authority of the lottery. It only needs an act by the state legislature.
On May 31, 1974, that happened. Title 29 Chapter 48 of the Delaware Code was created by the state legislature, giving the lottery authority to sell tickets to games of chance. The games were online the following year. In 1976, it was expanded to sports betting. Slots and video poker were added to the state’s race tracks in 1994. Table games were permitted in 2010. The Delaware Lottery was permitted to license online poker and casino games in 2012.
Delaware Horse Racing Betting
In-person and online horse racing betting is legal in Delaware. All three casinos host live horse races and accept wagers in-person. Additionally, a number of US-based horse racing betting sites allow customers from Delaware to bet on domestic and international races.
Online horse racing betting is exempt from several anti-gambling laws passed at the national level and is therefore 100% legal in Delaware as long as it is done at a licensed betting site. The best legal racing betting sites in Delaware are:
Delaware Horse Racing Betting Laws
Horse racing betting has been legal in Delaware for years thanks to favorable state and federal laws. The Interstate Horseracing Act of 1978 (full text here) made it legal for horse wagers to cross state lines. It is thanks to this act that we can bet on races such as the Kentucky Derby without leaving Delaware.
The horse racing industry was a powerful lobbying force in its heyday and managed to finagle exemptions from other federal laws such as PASPA and the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (UIGEA). In the text of PASPA, it specifically says the law does not apply to “parimutuel animal racing.”
The Interstate Horseracing Act was updated in 2000 to add language permitting online wagering. This amendment extended the definition of interstate wagers to include bets placed via telephone or “other electronic media” as long as doing so is lawful in both states. That update combined with exemptions from other laws is why online horse racing has been legal in Delaware for years even though sports betting was prohibited until recently.
Delaware Esports Betting
eSports are not addressed in Delaware law. Its loose gambling definition, or lack thereof, would seem to open the door to make the activity more friendly than in other states. However, it is not offered on the betting menus at the state’s sportsbooks.
Delaware Skill Games
Delaware gaming law does not address the definition of gambling in terms to its level of chance. This makes it difficult to address what is considered gambling in Delaware. Games of chance may only be offered by charities and the state lottery. One could conclude that games involving any degree of skill could find an exception to the state’s gambling laws.
Traditional games of skill are mostly legal in Delaware due to its lack of gambling definition. However, due to the lack of clarity in the law, sites like Worldwinner do not accept players from the state.
Skill-based gaming machines are legal in Delaware at arcades. However, the machines are not licensed in the state’s casinos.
Delaware Charity Gambling Law
Charitable gaming was legalized in Delaware through a 1984 constitutional amendment. The Delaware Charitable Gambling Referendum passed 74 to 26.
Charities in four municipalities may offer gaming. The proceeds must benefit a registered charity, such as a volunteer fire department, veterans’ group, religious organization and traditional charities. The games are regulated under Title 28 Chapter 15 and the Board of Charitable Gaming. Bingo and raffle licenses cost $15 for each event. Raffles only need licensing for giveaways of over $5,000 or when entries are more than $5.
Charities may have poker nights. These may involve tournaments up to once every 70 days. The top prize may not be for more than $5,000. The cumulative prize pool may not exceed $13,000. Entrants is all forms of charitable gaming must be at least 18 years of age.