Delaware Senate approves online gambling bill, Gov. Markell signature expected

delaware-senate-passes-online-gambling-billOn Wednesday, Delaware’s state Senate approved HB333 aka the Delaware Gaming Competitiveness Act, which will permit state residents to enjoy online poker, slots and table games. The Delaware Lottery would oversee the online gambling, the back end of which is to be supplied by a yet-to-be-selected tech provider. The bill will also expand the number of venues at which three-game-parlay sports betting products can be sold as well as the number of venues at which keno games are offered.

Originally scheduled for a Tuesday vote, the vote was delayed (it was claimed) due to the absence of a single unnamed Democratic senator, which observers suggested had made legislators fearful that they lacked the necessary votes to pass the bill. However, Wednesday’s vote passed by a convincing 14-6 margin (with one abstention), leading one to wonder at the real reason behind Tuesday’s panic. (We’re looking at you, harness racing industry.) Gov. Jack Markell has been a solid supporter of the legislation, so his signature is expected to be a fait accompli.

Wednesday’s vote puts Delaware in point position of the online gambling push in the US. While Nevada has already authorized intrastate online poker and Illinois is selling lottery tickets online, Delaware would become the first state to authorize online gaming products other than poker. The District of Columbia, while technically not a state, had previously held this honor with its poker and slots plan, only to have the pioneering legislation repealed by a skittish DC Council in February.

While Delaware’s miniscule population (under a million) will definitely not create a significant pool of poker players, the HB333 legislation notes that all gaming is restricted to state residents “except gaming pursuant to an interstate compact or if otherwise legally authorized.” As such, the state’s intent appears to be to set up shop, wait for other states to follow its lead then enter into multi-state compacts to share online poker liquidity. (In the meantime, its non-poker options require no liquidity to attract punters and generate revenue.) Delaware’s move will likely provide traction to similar bills pending in other states, which will render legalization efforts at the federal level even more redundant – something this site (and our fearless leader) has been predicting for years.