When the Governor of Delaware plunked down $10 on June 5 to back his beloved Philadelphia Phillies over the Chicago Cubs, the wager signaled the start of a new age in American sports betting.
Governor John Carney’s flier on the Phillies managed to produce a $20 profit too, following the (+200) underdogs managed to upset the Cubbies.
That ceremonial bet positioned at Dover Downs Hotel and Casino was quickly followed by several larger tickets bought by more severe bettors, such as a series of $500 baseball bets placed by local pro Stu Feiner.
Overall, across the country’s three racetrack / casino places — Delaware Park, Dover Downs Hotel & Casino, and Harrington Raceway & Casino — accumulated $322,135 in wagers on the first day of business. That number comes straight from Delaware Lottery manager Vernon Kirk, who heads the regulatory group helping get Delaware’s sports betting industry up and running.
Residents of and visitors to Delaware have managed to partly bet on sports for several decades, but only on”parlay cards” according to National Football League (NFL) games. Those parlay cards demanded several winners to be connected together, and the only tickets that cashed were those who showed all winners.
Traditional single-game or fixed-odds sports gambling, a la what you find in a Las Vegas sportsbook, wasn’t accessible Delaware — or any American state other than Nevada for that issue. Under a federal law known as the skilled and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) of 1992, single-game sports betting was prohibited anywhere but the Silver State.
That all changed on May 14, but when the United States Supreme Court issued a landmark 6-3 ruling in a case known as Murphy v. NCAA. This case originated in New Jersey, after the Garden State made continued efforts to pass its own sports betting laws and regulations. After being sued by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), Together with the NFL, MLB, NBA, and NHL, New Jersey’s ultimate appeal to the Supreme Court wound up in the winning column.
When the Court ruled that PASPA violated the 10th amendment to the U.S. Constitution — which grants states the right to pass their own laws absent Congressional action — PASPA was struck down once and for all.
What followed the decision three months ago was a veritable gold rush, with New Jersey rushing to put the final touches on its own statewide regulations.
But while lawmakers in New Jersey took their time, their counterparts from Delaware already had legal frameworks set up as a result of their parlay card operation. Known as the First State for a reason, Delaware moved quickly to become the first nation out Nevada to accept legal sports wagers.
Here’s how Governor Carney described the sports gambling launching in an interview with ESPN Chalk:
“For us, it is actually an enhancement of our tourism market.
It will attract a great deal of visitors to our state, especially at this time of year, throughout the summer, coming into our beautiful beaches south of here.
They come here and stop at the casinos and do slot machine and table gambling. This will be an additional opportunity for them.”
Carney also took a moment to hype Delaware as the Northeast’s latest sports betting destination when talking to USA Today:
“Gloating in this industry doesn’t last very long.
We are happy to be first now.
I don’t expect we will be the just one very long, but now it seems really good to be original.”
Carney’s historic first wager was set at Dover Downs Hotel and Casino, however, the country is home to 2 racetrack / casinos with in-house sportsbooks: Delaware Park Racetrack and Harrington Raceway and Casino.
Until the sportsbooks in Atlantic City go live — which should be any moment now — Delaware stands out as the only place for residents of the East Coast to place wagers. With that in mind, bettors will be flocking to these casinos from all corners of the Northeast.
To help get you started on your sports gambling journey, I’ve gone ahead and seen each of the three sportsbooks in Delaware. Below you will find objective and honest reviews of each centre, together with have to know information such as the address, contact number, website, and distances from regional population centers.
So check out my reviews of those three sportsbook venues now working in Delaware to create a more educated decision with your betting buck:
Delaware Park Racetrack
Address: 777 Delaware Park Blvd, Wilmington, DE 19804
Distance from Philadelphia:41 miles
Distance from Baltimore:69 miles
Distance from New York: 122 miles
Distance from Boston:355 miles
Situated in the very northernmost point of the state, in the city of Wilmington, Delaware Park Racetrack is the most conveniently accessible venue for folks in New York and New England.
It’s also the most attractive of the trio, the casino centre nestled close to the banks of the Delaware River and also a grassy green hill. From the outside, Delaware Park seems to be another stately three-story property, but once you step foot inside you will feel like you’ve walked on the casino floor in Las Vegas.
Between the slot machines, bright lights, and golden trim, this place is similar to the Golden Nugget than your average rural racetrack.
Once you find the sportsbook places — that are located in the clubhouses around the 1st and 3rd floors — you will be greeted by an array of brightly colored miniature lightbulbs exhibiting the day’s lines and odds. These betting boards used to be cutting edge in vegas about a decade back, however Sin City has phased them out in favour of high-definition television displays instead.
But you know what they say about one man’s trash being another’s treasure, therefore Delaware Park is pleased to have the betting boards on site.
Just ask William Fasy, who serves as president of Delaware Park. Through an interview with Deadspin to celebrate his sportsbook opening for company, Fasy touted his place’s most prominent technological boom:
“These planks were purchased eight years ago, and they’re no longer used anymore in Vegas.
But they’re the top boards in Delaware!”
If you are unfamiliar with a sportsbook gaming enthusiast that the picture below will show you exactly what I’m discussing.
Sports Book Beting Board
As you can see, every game or wager is coded with a base number (401, 402, etc., in the example picture above). When betting on 401 in the picture above, you’d be financing the Minnesota Vikings (-10) within the Los Angeles Rams. That (-10) figure denotes the point spread, therefore in this scenario, the Vikings will be laying 10 points to the Rams.
If you wished to take Minnesota with no spread, just look for the positive or negative numbers to the right of the point spread. These figures are called the”moneyline,” and they represent true chances on your wager. For the Vikings instance, you’d be backing a big (-600) favorite, even though a wager on the underdog Rams would provide (+400) in your cash.
Each team or participant will have their own number, which means you’d just tell the clerk”$100 on 401moneyline please” to put a c-note back on the Vikes.
In addition to the fancy betting boards, Delaware Park has also set up a bank of self-service wagering kiosks. These weren’t up and running just yet when I visited the centre, but they seemed like ATM machines from the early 1990s. Think a boxy frame, small display, and no-nonsense interface and you will find the idea.
It is possible to bet to your heart’s content at Delaware Park, which offers daily action on Major League Baseball (MLB), plus the National Basketball Association (NBA) Finals, along with a slew of daily golfing clubs and tennis tournaments.
If you are interested in futures betting, have a shot at the upcoming 2018 World Cup soccer championship, or try and predict that NFL team will take the Super Bowl title this season.
Fasymade it apparent in a form of meet and greets with the local media that Delaware Park would be going”all in” on its sportsbook. According to him, each form of betting will be on the desk, save one:
“I feel the only thing we are not going to offer is’in game’ wagering.
You are going to have prop bets. You are just not likely to have in sport prop bets happening.
And you’re going to have a mobile device.”
The concept of in-game betting was popularized by online sportsbooks, with gamers able to place additional wagers even as the game is ongoing. Say your group falls right into an early hole, and you’re keen on balancing the ledger. Putting an in-game wager on the opposite side offers valuable protection against upsets and unforeseen conditions.
While the in-game betting fad will not be coming to Delaware Park just yet, Fasy did allude to the emergence of mobile and online wagering in the future.
Don’t forget, Delaware is one of just three states — along with Nevada and New Jersey — in which a regulated and legal online gambling industry has gone live. With online casinos and poker rooms already hosted by the country’s three casino racetracks, it won’t be long till you can download the Delaware Park sportsbook program straight for your smartphone or cellular device.
When it comes to customer service, Delaware Park really hit the ball out of the park. Under guidance from Fasy — who is obviously enthusiastic about turning the area into a sports bettor’s harbor — the staff here are educated and considerate. Sure, a couple hiccups could be observed in terms of erroneous tickets and the like, for example my futures wager on the Miami Dolphins season win total being entered as a Miami Marlins moneyline by mistake.
But those growing pains should be expected for any new sportsbook. Because of this helpful attendants, I managed to cancel the Marlins ticket and exchange it for the Dolphins in a matter of minutes.
All in all, I can not suggest Delaware Park enough, based equally on the venue’s contemporary sense and Fasy’s clear dedication to producing the nation’s best sportsbook.
Dover Downs Hotel and Casino
Address: 1131 North DuPont Highway; Dover, Delaware
Distance from Philadelphia: 78 miles
Distance from Baltimore:106 miles
Distance from New York: 165 miles
Distance from Boston: 388 miles
When I first laid eyes on Dover Downs Hotel and Casino, my first thought was of the glittering Off-Strip casinos scattered throughout the Las Vegas desert.
Places like the South Point and Red Rock Resort, which combine sprawling hotel towers crossing several stories with classical design — that is what Dover Downs is going for.
And the illusion is not broken one piece when you walk through the doorways. Vaulted ceilings, fancy art, and marble flooring all combine to turn the area into a casino connoisseur’s dream come true. This place includes conference halls, shopping outlets, and of course, a racetrack where NASCAR events are hosted each year.
Head through the main entrance and find the nearest bar off to the side, and you’ll be smack dab at the sportsbook. Just search for the big comfy chairs and enormous projector screens overhead, and you are there.
At first glance, the sportsbook facility at Dover Downs appears to indicate a thriving enterprise place to capitalize on the demise of PASPA. And to be sure, the facility has expanded its offerings to include the full complement of single-game wagers, props, and futures.
However during my time there, the attention from staff and clients alike remained on horse racing. That makes sense I guess, what with the place’s longstanding affiliation with the”Sport of Kings.”
I had been curious, however, about the apparent lack of buzz regarding ordinary sports gambling, especially with the NBA and NHL Finals going on in the time.
Just a little digging around told the tale, like I found the following quote from Dover Downs president Ed Sutor within an article published by theDelaware Public:
“It’s nice to have. [However ] at Nevada, in which they have had it for 50 years, it merely represents about two percent of the revenues.
A good deal of people are mistaking the amounts bet as the revenue.
It’s not a huge take for the industry.”
Sutor was not the only Dover Downs executive that seemed to be lukewarm at best as it came to enlarged sportsbooks in the nation:
Dover Downs Gamingchief executive officer Denis McGlynn threw cold water on the idea that sports gambling would be an economic boon for the state when talking to Delaware Online:
“There is a great deal of rhetoric that gets thrown around down there which doesn’t have any basis in fact.People have to manage their expectations on this.
The dollars that are left over after you pay back the winners are very little and you divide it among many different people in this state.
When (surrounding states) get up and running, we are going to see a draining of people that are coming here, as we have seen in the normal casino industry and before that at the horse racing business.”
While a pragmatic business outlook certainly makes sense, especially by an operator’s perspective, I’m not sure I understand Dover Downs’ angle on this.
By failing to embrace the full spectrum of sports betting options open to Delaware, the venue risks being abandoned in Delaware Park’s dust. And maybe that is already the case.
This past year the state of Delaware accumulated $1.9 million in earnings on its own parlay card games. From this figure, Delaware Park dominated the market with $1.2 million, nearly 3 times that taken in by Dover Downs ($422,000).
The lack of religion expressed from the higher-ups in Dover Downs appears to have trickled down to the team level. Clerks did not seem very educated when I inquired about futures betting, and unless you were wagering on the ponies, nobody voiced the kind excitement I felt back in Delaware Park.
And that’s a shame too, because from the outside , this site boasts the kind of conveniences every gambler enjoys.
Harrington Raceway and Casino
Address: 18500 S Dupont Hwy, Harrington, DE 19952
Distance from Philadelphia:99 miles
Distance from Baltimore:87 miles
Distance from New York: 186 miles
Distance from Boston:409 miles
Harrington Raceway is located incentral Delaware, just an hour and a half from Baltimore and Philadelphia.
However, you’ll be forgiven for driving right by the location without ever even noticing.
This casino has been affixed to some small harness racing course, along with the whole grounds was built out in the middle of nowhere.
The casino building’s exterior resembles that of non-denominational church, rather than much adorns it to imply gambling and amusement is afoot. It is an interesting design choice to say the least, and things do not exactly enhance when you head inside.
If you have ever been into the old Downtown district in Las Vegas — home of”fabulous” Fremont Street — then you know what to expect at Harrington Raceway. Rundown slot machines, aging d??cor, along with a normally sullen scene would be the defining features of the casino floor.
Fortunately for bettors, the sportsbook area does offer a little bit of improvement — but just barely. Matters fell nicer in there, however, the set up of personal cubicles with attached TV monitors — standard for racebooks — isn’t exactly inviting. The projector displays overhead are big and bright though, so I’ll give them that much.
Interestingly enough, Harrington Raceway’s chief executive officer Patti Key has yet to comment publicly on the legalization of sport gambling. Whether that speaks to a companywide philosophy emphasizing horse racing over the sportsbook is not for me to say — but Key staying tight-lipped is pretty interesting.
Because of the track’s standing as a severe harness racing centre, the sportsbook is usually crowded ahead of scheduled start times. If you are there for sports only, be sure to catch a copy of the daily racing form to observe when the lines will begin piling up.
A nice byproduct of the venue’s serious approach to horse racing is the employees are prepared and ready to roll. I had to correct a few ticket writers from time to time in both of the other sportsbooks, but the folks in Harrington batted 1.000 in relation to precision.
In general, the experience surpassed what I would have anticipated when I saw the building, which is probably why they say to never judge a book by it’s cover.
Depending on where you call home, one of the three venues listed above are the most suitable based solely on proximity. That’s probably reason enough to choose a favorite, but because Delaware is a small country, you can hit all three inside a weekend to view them up close and personal.
In terms of my tour of the nation’s sportsbooks, I preferred Delaware Park, Harrington Raceway, and Dover Downs in this order.
Delaware Park benefits from the enthusiasm of its direction, as Fasy brings a genuine interest in the sports betting business to the table. His team are genuinely eager to assist new bettors learn the principles, and that goes a long way in my book. When the first online sportsbooks go live in the First State, I will bet my bottom Delaware Park is running the show.
Harrington Raceway may not be much to check at, but the place knows how to run a racebook. The staff can answer questions and guide you through the process with ease. Whether that victory goes to sports betting remains to be seen, but I have a sense severe bettors can call this place home.
As for Dover Downs, my feelings about the problem are simple — if the people in control do not appreciate sports gambling, they wont enjoy sports bettors either. Until I hear word of a change in tone coming down the chain of command, I simply wouldn’t expect the mistakes and malaise here to be solved anytime soon.
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