The state’s first racetrack opens at Delaware Park, offering pari-mutuel betting on both thoroughbred horses and harness racing.
Delaware Online Gambling: What’s Legal in the First State?
Delaware has always been a pioneer when it comes to gambling in the United States. For instance, in 2012, the First State was among the earliest to permit legal casino gaming, when the Delaware Gaming Competitiveness Act was passed. And more recently, in June 2018, they were the first to allow land-based sportsbooks.
In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into the state of gambling in Delaware right now. From the tax rate to the legal age, we’ll discuss all of the latest legislation. We’ll also take a brief look at how the Delaware gambling laws have evolved over time. You may also be interested in checking out our article about New York gambling laws.
Delaware’s Gambling Options Overview
First things first, is gambling legal in Delaware? The answer is “yes”, but it depends what type of wagering we’re talking about.
There are several forms of retail gambling permitted in Delaware. They became the first US state to take advantage of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) being struck down, for example. Land-based sports betting has been legal since June 5, 2018.
The First State also has three physical casinos, all of which are set up inside horse racing venues. These racinos are found at Delaware Park, Dover Downs and Harrington Raceway. Land-based casino table games were legalized back in 2010.
Other legal forms of land-based gambling in Delaware include charitable gaming, such as raffles, bingo and poker tournaments. While the state lottery has been in operation since 1975.
Most online gambling in Delaware is legal, and has been since the law was changed on June 28th, 2012. This meant that the First State truly lived up to its nickname, becoming the first to legalize online poker, lottery, keno, table games and slots. However, no sites were operational until November 8th, 2013.
For the time being, the Delaware online gambling laws do not permit internet-based sportsbooks. But three Daily Fantasy Sports sites are operating, as this has been legal since July 26, 2017. They are FanDuel, DraftKings and DRAFT.
Delaware Gambling Laws and Regulatory Bodies
According to chapter 17 of the Delaware Constitution, all forms of gambling are illegal in the state barring three key exceptions:
- Lotteries under state control;
- Lotteries run by charitable organizations in accordance with certain regulations;
- Pari-mutuel and pool betting at racetracks.
However, the state’s definition of a lottery is quite a broad one. Within the Delaware Code, most forms of traditional betting, such as slot machines, casino table games and sportsbooks, are categorized as lotteries. So as long as such activities take place within the confines of a licensed racetrack, everything is legal and above board.
Online Gambling Laws
But what does that mean for a Delaware online gambling site? How are they able to operate? Well, it’s quite simple – they too need to be connected to a racino, which is also true for New Jersey online casinos. That’s why there are just three online casinos in the First State. Since there are only three racinos, there can only be three online gambling sites. They are as follows:
- Delaware Park Online (Delaware Park)
- Dover Downs Online Gaming (Dover Downs)
- Harrington Online (Harrington Raceway)
Each site is operated by 888 Holdings in partnership with the three different racecourses.
Delaware Devision of Gaming Enforcement
Similar to the DGEs of other states that legalized gambling, the Delaware Division of Gaming Enforcementt oversees gambling activities in the state and enforces state laws relating to gambling. The Division also oversees activities related to the operation of the Delaware Lottery. It also houses the Casino Background Investigators which conduct regular background checks on the personnel and staff involved in gambling activities.
Delaware Lottery Commission
With the creation of the state lottery in 1974, it was agreed that a Lottery Commission would be set up within the Department of Finance. This body is responsible for overseeing the regulation of gambling in the First State.
It comprises five local citizens and must include at least one accountant, a lawyer, someone with law enforcement experience and a businessperson.
Definitions of Gambling in DE
Legislation in other states, such as the NJ gambling laws, define gambling very clearly. But the Delaware Code classes each type of wagering as a form of lottery, for instance:
This is clearly talking about slot machines, but Delaware classes them as a specific type of lottery. On a similar note, we have the following:
In other words, online slots. This theme continues throughout the Delaware Code, defining every form of gambling as a different kind of lottery. One last example is that of sports betting:
Legal Gambling Age in Delaware
According to local government laws, the legal gambling age in Delaware varies depending on the type of game.
Patrons of all casinos in the state of Delaware must be at least 21 years of age.
Like their retail counterparts, online casinos in the First State require players to be 21 or older.
The DE gambling laws don’t allow for online sportsbooks. However, players can bet on sports at land-based venues if they are at least 21 years old.
Lottery and Bingo
You only need to be 18 years of age in order to buy lottery tickets or play similar numbers-based games like bingo.
18 year olds are allowed to take part in charitable gaming where prizes involve money. However, if the rewards are merchandise rather than cash, the legal age for charitable gaming is just 16.
The DE gambling age for Daily Fantasy Sports is 18 years old.
Delaware permits pari-mutuel betting at their three racetracks and the minimum legal age is 18.
Timeline of Gambling Laws in Delaware
Let’s now take a look at the key events throughout the history of gambling in Delaware.
In May 1974, the government moved to pass laws that would create a state lottery. Legislation was signed in May of that year, with the first tickets sold almost a year later, in March 1975. The very first game was called Lotto Superfecta, based on the outcome of events at two of Delaware’s horse racing tracks.
In June 2005, a bill was sponsored that would legalize casino games using dice and cards. It took until January 2010 for approval to be granted, allowing Delaware’s three racinos to run table games.
On May 9th, 2012, legislation permitting most forms of online gambling was first introduced. Less than two months later, on June 28th, it was signed into law. However, the first online casino wouldn’t open for more than a year, on November 8th, 2013.
A ruling allowing the operation of Daily Fantasy Sports in Delaware was signed into law on July 26, 2017. DraftKings, FanDuel and DRAFT are the three DFS companies offering services to players in the First State.
In May 2018, the Supreme Court struck down PASPA, paving the way for legalized sports betting across the country. Local lawmakers moved quickly to capitalize on the ruling, with Governor John Carney placing the first legal bet on June 5, 2018.
Gaming Tax and Withholdings Tax on Winnings
Delaware takes a pretty unusual line on the taxation of player’s winnings. New Jersey, for instance, requires the imposition of a withholding tax, a model which most other states have replicated. But in the First State, there is no withholdings on winnings.
Of course, gambling operators do have to pay substantial taxes, which are as follows:
- Sports Betting: 50% of revenue;
- Table games (includes poker): 15.5% (plus a 4.5% purse supplement);
- Online casino: 42.5% (plus a 10% purse supplement);
- Video lottery (includes online slots): 57%;
- Lottery: 30%.
Is online gambling legal in Delaware?
Yes. All forms of online gambling are legal in the First State except for online sports betting, which is expected to change soon. These forms of gambling include online casinos and daily fantasy sports.
What is the legal gambling age in Delaware?
The Delaware gambling age varies by game type. You must be 21 to place most forms of wager, both land-based and online. But 18 year olds can place pari-mutuel bets at racetracks, play Daily Fantasy Sports and buy lottery tickets.
When did Delaware legalize online gambling?
The first Delaware online casinos saw their launch on November 8th, 2013. However, the legislation permitting this was passed much earlier, on June 28th 2012. This made Delaware the first state in the country to pass online gambling laws.
What types of gambling are legal in Delaware?
All forms of gambling are legal in Delaware, as explained in full elsewhere on this page; although online sports betting is not yet permitted, there are still land-based sportsbooks.
How many online casinos are available in Delaware?
There are just three online casinos in DE, all operated by 888 Holdings. They are Delaware Park Online, Dover Downs Online Gaming and Harrington Online.