In February 2007, I wrote the following:
“I would say in two or three years, tops, you’ll be able to get in your car and drive 100 miles to one of a series of sportsbooks that will be set up in Delaware. You will be able to bet legally and watch games in a sports palace with giant screens, similar to the sports books in Las Vegas…..bet on it. It’s a sure thing.”
I am almost ready to cash in.
On Friday, the Delaware State House of Representatives approved a bill legalizing sports betting. The bill is supported by Govenor Jack Markell and is expected to pass the State Senate in the next two weeks.
What a great state! And tax free shopping, too!
The bill will allow parlay betting on sports at the three slot parlors in the state — Delaware Park in Newark, Dover Downs in Dover, and Harrington Raceway in Harrington.
This will make Delaware the first state outside of Nevada to legalize sports betting, but it won’t the last. The dominos are starting to fall.
Delaware was the path of least resistance for legalized sports betting. It is one of four states in the country exempt from the federal ban on sports betting because it had a law on the books already from its ill-fated sports lottery in the 1970s. So they faced no legal hurdles.
Also, with no major professional sports franchise in the state, there would be no influential lobbying effort against it.
Maryland expedited this move when it passed slot machines last year. That meant every state near or around Delaware would now have slot machines, and therefore nobody would have a reason to travel to Delaware to bet anymore. So they had to raise the ante.
Now watch what happens in New Jersey. There is already a proposal there in the state legislature to legalize sports betting, but that state does face the problem of the federal ban. They will have to go to court to overturn it, but once Delaware makes the move, look for New Jersey to fight the federal ban — and they’ll win.
Then, once New Jersey makes the move, it is only a matter of time before Pennsylvania legalizes sports betting. And on. And on. Just like slot machines.
Remember, politicians love gambling, because instead of having to take your money through taxes, this way you give them your money.
I will be on The Sports Reporters on ESPN 980 AM Washington on Monday, May 11, from 4 to 7 p.m.
To learn more about Thom Loverro, go to www.thomloverro.com