The race to see which state would be first to offer sports bets after the May Supreme Court ruling that overturned PASPA has been decided, with Delaware keeping true to its nickname. On Thursday, the state known as the First State announced that it will start accepting wagers on single-game outcomes on Tuesday.

Dover Downs
Dover Downs Casino has a race and sportsbook, but will now be offering single-game betting on all sports in addition to their existing NFL parlay cards. (Image: Dover Downs Casino)

The area’s three casinos, Delaware Park, Dover Downs Hotel & Casino, and Harrington Raceway & Casino, will be taking bets on single-game outcomes for baseball, football, hockey, basketball, soccer, golf, and auto racing. The facilities will also allow wagers on college sports, so long as the schools aren’t located in Delaware.

After review by the state’s Department of Finance and attorney general’s office, officials concluded that existing law covered the proposed sports betting expansion.

“Delaware has all necessary legal and regulatory authority to move forward with a full-scale sports gaming operation, and we look forward to next week’s launch,” Carney said in a release. “We’re hopeful that this will bring even more visitors into Delaware to see firsthand what our state has to offer.”

Grandfather Exemptions

The reason Delaware was able to be the first to offer sports betting three weeks after the Supreme Court decision was mostly due to existing law. Delaware, along with Nevada, Oregon, and Montana were exempt from the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act that Congress passed in 1992.

While Nevada had full sports betting already in operation, Delaware didn’t start until 2009. Lawmakers tried to offer betting on all sports, but a federal appeals court ruled their grandfathered status only allowed for parlay cards on NFL games, with bettors required to make a minimum of three picks per wager.

The bets were run through the state’s lottery. Initially only the three casinos were allowed to offer the parlay cards, but three years later they were available at bars and convenience stores where lottery tickets were sold.

John Starkey, a spokesman for the governor, told the Delaware News Journal that there are no current plans to allow sports betting at Delaware retailers and bars that sell lottery tickets and parlay cards.

But that experience helped state officials to seamlessly transition into expanded wagering. With a system already in place, it was just a matter of updating the software and for casinos to train their employees.

“We’ve had sport betting for nine years, so it’s not new to us,” state lottery director Vernon Kirk told the Associated Press. “We’re not surprised the software works because it’s been working fine. We didn’t have to make any significant changes.”

Race for Second

Now that Delaware has pulled a mild upset and become the first state to offer sports betting, other states might try and speed up the process, especially neighbors such as New Jersey and New York.

The plaintiff in Christie v. NCAA had legislation passed and was ready to start putting facilities in its horse racing sites, as well as Atlantic City casinos. Those entities in the Garden State said they were ready to begin accepting wagers.

But the state wanted to clarify its legislation and it has been winding its way through the governmental bodies. They are hoping to have sportsbooks in operation before the start of the NFL season in September.

New York is able to use language included in a constitutional amendment related to casino gambling passed in 2013. That might give the Empire State the chance to get sportsbooks in place by the end of June, though many believe it will take a big longer.

West Virginia is another state that is trying to push through a law so that it can begin accepting bets on sports. There was a bill introduced last year, but it stalled. A new piece of legislation has been seen as having better odds of passing.