It’s been more than a decade since Delaware launched its lottery-based online casino network, becoming the first state with such a service.
In the proceeding 11 years, the First State has been one-upped in iGaming and mobile sports betting by its neighbors, with New Jersey and Pennsylvania having both options on the books, while Maryland joined the mobile sports betting party last fall.
With news earlier this month the state’s lottery would issue a request for proposal from vendors to provide online poker and casino gaming, as well as a possible mobile wagering license, it’s worth reconsidering whether 2023 is the year for an open Delaware sports betting and iGaming market.
The state’s current deal with 888 Holdings is set to expire later this year. Unlike some other states with iGaming, Delaware doesn’t feature multiple national operators. Instead, there is one vendor.
And there is no online sports betting. Delaware has retail sports betting at three locations in the state. It also offers parlay bets on college and pro football at state lottery locations.
“The Delaware State Lottery (“DSL” or “Lottery”) is issuing this Request for Proposal (the “RFP”) to invite interested Vendors to submit a Proposal for the implementation of its Internet Wagering System and Services Solution (the “Internet Wagering Solution” or “Solution”),” the lottery’s RFP released on Jan. 13 reads.
The RFP goes on to state the five-year contract will be with multiple vendors that offer casino table games, video lottery games, poker, bingo and Keno, with an option to tack on online sports betting in the future.
“The option for internet sports wagering may be at (1) Production Operation launch date, (2) at some point in the future or (3) not at all i.e., outside the scope of this RFP,” the RFP reads.
Is Now The Time For Online Sports Betting?
The idea behind expanding Delaware’s lottery-based gaming options to cover mobile sports betting starts and ends with the immense revenue potential that such an option adds.
A glance at the state’s retail sports betting returns, compared with Delaware’s neighbors, shows why such a decision may be made sooner rather than later.
Since wagering launched in the First State, Delaware has raked in $542.388 million in handle, which is a fraction of the $33.727 billion New Jersey’s made off mobile and retail sports betting.
To give another example, Maryland’s first full month of data with online sports betting (December) saw a $497.121 million handle, which is roughly 9% less than Delaware has made since launching retail betting in 2018.
The Delaware Lottery’s RFP spells out how much of an X-factor mobile betting could be for the state, projecting $25 million in annual gross gaming revenue per year, which is just under a quarter of the state’s GGR total ($82.122 million) between 2018 and December 2022.
That haul would get Delaware’s market more in line with its neighbors, when it comes to gaming revenues, allowing the state to avoid falling further behind as sports betting and iGaming become more commonplace across the country.