Evidence Continues to Suggest that Delaware Online Sports Betting Won't Expand Anytime Soon

Dan Favale
By , Updated on: Jun 25, 2024 12:00 AM
A proposal to expand Delaware online sports betting is opposed by two key stakeholders. There's no telling when or if that'll change.

It is increasingly clear that Delaware online sports betting expansion will not be in the cards anytime soon. 

This was the case last time we checked in on the First State. Rush Street Interactive, the parent company of the only online sportsbook operator in Delaware, has a long-term agreement that grants them exclusivity for up to 10 years. Many expect them to exercise this right, which means online sports wagering expansion in Delaware is unlikely to happen anytime soon.

Still, things change. The expectation has been that the state would be able to amend their current agreement in the event they formally proposed to expand online sports betting in Delaware. As it turns out, though, this may not be the case.

Recent Push to Incorporate More Operators into Delaware Online Sports Betting Meets Stark Opposition

House Bill 365 seeks to add up to six online sportsbooks to Delaware’s portfolio. Sponsors reportedly proposed this bill after commissioning a study to see whether an exclusive setup or competitive sports betting model would be better for the state. 

However, by the time it was determined a competitive model would be the way to go, Rush Street Interactive had already been chosen by the Delaware State Lottery as the sole online operator throughout the region. In fact, according to Legal Sports Report, HB 365 was brought to the table, RSI’s BetRivers was basically one month away from going live. Both the lottery commission and RSI have taken exception with both the timing and spirit of the proposal. RSI went as far as providing a lengthy statement to Legal Sports Report’s Matthew Wagters:

“After a thorough State procurement process, including a formal RFP that only concluded less than a year ago, RSI was selected by the Delaware Lottery to operate both iGaming and mobile sports betting for the State. In reliance on the Lottery’s contract award, RSI invested substantial amounts of time and money to produce an outstanding product for the Lottery and Delawareans. The early results from RSI’s operation have been tremendous, with the State of Delaware’s online gross gaming revenue in March alone being 300% greater than the previous all-time high during the 10-year history of iGaming in Delaware.

“Now, having either participated in the RFP process and lost, or having chosen to not enter a well-publicized procurement process, a group of sports betting companies with no connection to or investment in Delaware are seeking to do an end run around the Delaware Lottery with a bill that would significantly reduce revenue to the State and to Delaware’s horsemen and women and tracks and the jobs they support, and upend the longstanding Lottery-based gaming model in Delaware, which requires that gambling be controlled by the Lottery.”

As far as company statements go, this is incredibly strong. And for now, it outlays what feels like a winning argument.

Would Online Gaming Expansion Really Impact Delaware Gambling Revenue?

This question is the most pressing consideration of the whole matter. Sure, there are moral issues at play. More online gaming means more access, which could in turn increase reports of problem gambling. As crass as it sounds, though, Delaware online sports betting is legal in spite of the risks because of the potential for lucrative revenue.

Now, on the one hand, allowing more top online sportsbooks in the United States to enter the market would lead to more licensing fees. The additional options could also compel residents to sign up with multiple operators and become more frequent betters. At the same time, the infusion of competition would likewise up the number (and aggression) of promotional bonuses. While those incentives are a great tool for drumming up clientele, they also eat into sportsbook profits. And that dip in revenue at the operational level is passed down to the state in the form of smaller tax payouts

On the flip side, though, more Delaware online sportsbooks broadens the overall reach of the industry. Conceptually speaking, the chance to reel in more users should trounce or offset any uptick in Delaware online sports betting bonuses.

What’s more, a competitive market is considered an extension of consumer protection. If sportsbooks are competing against one another, it ensures customers will have more Delaware online sports betting odds from which to choose. This allows them to shop around and keep operators “honest,” in the sense that they can’t simply set the market without consequences.

What’s a Realistic Timeline for Delaware Online Sports Betting Expansion?

Answering this question is even harder than the previous one. Clearly, this is interest in bringing more online sportsbooks to Delaware. But this intrigue may prove moot.

Never mind that there are merits on both sides of the fence. Rush Street Interactive has an agreement with the Delaware Lottery, which is in charge of Delaware online sports betting. If they’re not prepared to alter it, their opposition feels as if it will prevail. 

Could state representatives and senators attempt to circumvent the lottery and RSI. Maybe. We’re not really sure. Either way, it’s an issue that can’t really be debated until the next round of legislative meetings.

For now, though, it looks like Delaware online sports betting will have no choice but to continue existing in its exclusive form. Perhaps state reps can get RSI to buy into a broader gambling model over time. But if they can’t, the terms of the agreement speak for itself. RSI, it would seem, has the ability to prevent the expansion of Delaware online sports betting for anywhere between five and 10 years.

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Meet the author

Dan Favale

Dan first began writing about sports back in 2011. At the time, his expertise lied in the NBA and NFL. More than one decade, that remains the case. But he's also expanded his catalog to include extensive knowledge and analysis on the NHL, MLB, tennis, NASCAR, college ba...

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