Thanks to our paranoid Founding Fathers and their precious states’ rights, four states were able to preserve legalized sports betting before the federal government made it illegal in 1992: Nevada, Montana and Oregon — which already have bookmaking — and little, unassuming Delaware.
With an new governor, Delaware has a new outlook on life, and legalized sports wagering is a big part of their future. So, will the First State ever be more than a cheap place to buy cigarettes or 20 minutes of highway between New York and D.C.?
Gov. Jack Markell enters office with a $700 million budget shortfall, and reports that tell him legalized betting could bring in up to $100 million a year. It seems like a no brainer, especially in a state that already allows slots and horse racing. “We’ve already got gaming in the state and you can’t be a little bit pregnant,” he says.
Sometime next week, according to ESPN THE MAGAZINE, Markel will introduce his proposal. It’ll only allow parlay bets, and initially only be available at racinos, but it’ll be the first legalized sports betting east of the Mississippi.
There could be a chain reaction here. If Delaware draws the gaming crowd, they’ll be taking business from Atlantic City.
Later this month, NJ State Senator Ray Lesniak says he will file a federal lawsuit claiming the 1992 sports betting ban is illegal. “To allow betting in Nevada and three other states is discrimination against the rest of the states.” Says Lesniak. “We have to do something. If you go to Atlantic City on Super Bowl weekend there won’t be anyone there.”
I have to say that Delware is ingenious for timing its proposal for next week, while voters are filling out their March Madness brackets. It’s sure to create positive associations. When you think riches, think Delaware. When you think excitement, think Delaware. When you think luxury, think Delaware. There, I just came up with your slogan. Gimme 100 bucks credit at the sports book.