Delaware readying “soft launch” of online gambling platform; VLAC asks for concessions

delaware-senate-passes-online-gambling-billDelaware is one day away from launching its online gambling platform, becoming only the second state in the US after Nevada to offer online gambling services within its borders.

But before the real gambling begins for users all throughout the state, Delaware lottery officials are going to conduct a soft launch with a select group of preferred players. The state refuses to divulge information of these players, but the reason for doing so is pretty obvious. State lottery director Vernon Kirk explained the decision for the soft launch, saying that it would give the state a chance to give the system, run by partner 888 Holdings, a brief dry run to ensure that things go smoothly across the board, including account set-ups, system functionality, and monetary transfers from casinos to player bank accounts and vice versa.

The soft launch is expected to last at least a couple of weeks before the full launch of online gambling in the state takes effect early next month, giving officials plenty of time to ensure that all the bases are covered and everything’s up to snuff ahead of the full launch.

In addition to the launch of its online gambling services, the state is also looking into recommendations made by the Video Lottery Advisory Council, an industry group representing Delaware’s three casinos, of possibly restructuring the current models for sharing revenue with the state. Under the present set-up, vendor costs are taken from the casinos’ share after the state takes the 43.5 percent cut of slots revenue allocated for it by law. The VLAC is recommending that the vendors take their cut before the state takes its, while also proposing a tiered structure of revenue sharing designed to protect the casinos from having to pay more to the state even if revenues decline. Under its proposed setup, if casinos see a drop in revenue, the state’s percentage should also see a decline.

“The things we are asking for are critical, critical to our business,” council chairman and Dover Downs CEO Ed Sutor said, as quoted by The Associated Press, before adding that the proposed tiered structure of revenue was designed to get casinos into a lower tax bracket until those establishments are  ready to turn their businesses around.

“I don’t think there’s been a more critical time for the kinds of things we’ll be recommending,” Sutor added.