Delaware, Mississippi moving fast on sports betting launch plans


delaware-mississippi-sports-bettingTwo US states – Delaware and Mississippi – moved significantly closer on Thursday to launching single-game sports betting within their respective borders.

On Thursday, Delaware’s Department of Finance announced that the state Attorney General’s office had assured it that there are “no legal obstacles to moving forward with full-scale sports betting in Delaware, including head-to-head-betting, which permits single-game wagering.”

Under the federal law that the US Supreme Court struck down on Monday, Delaware was allowed to offer parlay football wagers. The Dept. of Finance now says the Delaware Lottery “has had plans in place for months and we will begin training lottery and casino staff next week in preparation for a June launch of full-scale sports betting.”

Finance Secretary Rick Geisenberger told Delaware Online that software testing would commence alongside the staff training “but this will be a conversation with the casinos and we’ll start when we’re ready and they’re ready.” Assuming all goes well at the state’s three casinos, then bars, taverns and convenience stores – which currently offer the parlay wagers – would also be allowed to add single-game wagering.

Geisenberger said the new system would likely start with point-spread wagers only, “but ultimately we’re going to look at the mix of products that make sense … if that’s what people are looking for, that’s what we’ll offer.”

New Jersey’s gaming licensees could be cleared to offer sports betting to their customers as early as June 7, putting them in a dead heat with Delaware for ‘first’ bragging rights.

Down south, the Mississippi Gaming Commission (MGC) has published its new sports betting regulations (viewable here), which govern how betting will take place at the state’s 28 licensed brick-and-mortar casinos.

The regs are open to comment for 25 days, and the MGC could approve them at its June 21 meeting. Assuming that transpires, a mandatory 30-day standstill period would follow, putting the casinos on a legal footing to offer sports betting to their customers by late July.

Mississippi’s proposed rules would allow casino patrons to bet via mobile devices, but the devices would only accept wagers on casino property (similar to on-site mobile casino gambling that is available in many casinos across the US). Funds can only be deposited into wagering accounts by a customer who is on the property.

The regs contain a ‘sports integrity’ section but it doesn’t include an ‘integrity fee’ to be paid to the sports bodies on whose games bets are placed, nor any requirement for betting operators to use only league-approved data for wagering purposes.

There is a clause that allows regulators to impose “any additional conditions reasonably necessary on a licensee to address risks to the integrity of sport and sports betting,” so the leagues may not consider this fight lost just yet.

Mississippi was one of only a handful of states that was proactive enough to pass betting legislation before Monday’s Supreme Court ruling. Most other states are in a mad panic to get something done before their legislative sessions conclude, and some are discussing the possibility of special sessions for the express purpose of hopping on the betting train. Moral of the story? Snooze and lose.