The 2013 NFL season is rapidly approaching and the state of Delaware is doing its part to ensure that it makes the most out of its advantage of being one of the few states that can currently offer sports betting.
In an effort to generate even more revenue from its sports betting business, the state’s lottery is ramping up the number of retailers, restaurants and bars where people can bet on NFL games this season. Last year, Delaware expanded sports betting, moving access to it from its three state racetrack casinos and allowing 31 establishments throughout the state to carry sports betting. This year, that number is expected to hit 66 establishments.
The decision to expand its sports betting offering wasn’t a hard one for the Delaware Lottery. It did huge business a year ago with the initial expansion, generating $25.4 million during the entire football season, a dramatic improvement from its 2011 figures when revenue hit $17.9 million for the year.
“We generated a lot of interest last year,” said Vernon Kirk, director of the Delaware Lottery, told the Las Vegas Review Journal in a phone interview. “We generated $25.4 million during the football season. For a little state like Delaware, that’s pretty good.”
Taking advantage of the only form of sports betting allowed in the state – bets on NFL games using only parlay cards with a minimum bet of $2 – is a pretty smart move considering the enormous popularity of the sport throughout the country, especial in a place like Delaware where there are numerous teams that play from various neighboring states. Last year, the state recouped a total of $2.4 million from sports betting revenue. That’s a figure that’s expected to rise significantly now that there are more establishments in Delaware that will offer sports betting on NFL games.
Equally important to the growth of sports betting is that it didn’t cut into revenues of the state’s casinos, which made for what Kirk described as a “good relationship” between the two. You gotta believe that the casinos and the state lottery ought to be working harmoniously to ensure that it takes advantage of being – currently, at least – one of only four state that can legally offer sports betting. It’s hard to say how the Delaware’s revenue from sports betting will be affected should New Jersey join the party so while it still has the market al to its own, it better make the most of the dollars it could potentially generate this upcoming NFL season.
Make no mistake, though, Delaware is earnestly paying attention to what transpires in New Jersey’s fight against the NCAA and the four professional sports leagues regarding the legalization of sports betting in its borders. Currently, the sports leagues were successful in stopping the state’s plan to legalize sports betting after a judge ruled in their favor. The state appealed that decision in a federal court in Philadelphia and has plans to raise that matter to the Supreme Court if it loses its current appeal.
This is important for Delaware because if New Jersey succeeds in legalizing sports betting, the state will follow suit in trying to open up the business to more than what is currently in place.
“We have the infrastructure in place,” Kirk told the LVRJ. “If the federal court rules in New Jersey’s favor, we would be able to turn on our system.”
For now, though, the state is more than happy doubling the betting sites for in the state in time for the upcoming NFL season. One step a time, so it seems.