Delaware Becomes First State to Legalize Online Gaming
On Thursday, Delaware's Democratic Gov. Jack Markell approved online casino gambling within the state's borders. Players will be monitored through geolocation technology, reported The News Journal of Wilmington, Delaware.
The games, such as slots, roulette, poker and blackjack, will be played on each Delaware casino's website and controlled centrally by the state Lottery Office. In addition, the bill extends keno beyond the state's three casinos to at least 100 sites, and it opens up betting on NFL football to at least 20 non-casino sites. Like other states, a state-run website will sell Delaware lottery tickets.
The state's plan is to launch online gaming websites in 2013. Betting will prospectively be available on various digital devices including smart phones and tablets.
The governor authorized the Delaware Gaming Competitiveness Act of 2012 the morning after the bill passed the state Senate by a 14-6 margin. It required a three-fifths majority, according to the Associated Press. Proponents herald the measure as a revenue generator for the state and a way to preserve their ailing casino industry. As of late, the state's casino business has suffered, losing customers to East Coast competitors. The U.S. Department of Finance estimates Internet gaming would generate $7.75 million in revenue for the state in the next fiscal year.
Opponents of the bill claim taking gaming virtual will increase addiction and other social ills associated with it.
Under the legislation, a portion of the expected profits from online gambling will help offset the $3.75 million Delaware's three casinos currently pay in licensing fees. In return, the entities have agreed to use those savings to fund marketing, capital expansion projects and debt reduction.
The Delaware casino industry employs about 2,500 people and legalized gambling generates more than $250 million annually in state tax dollars.
"We can help protect the jobs and this revenue source for our state," said Senate President Pro Tem Anthony DeLuca, the lead Senate sponsor of the bill. "We can keep Delaware at the forefront of developing new and better gambling options," he said.
While Nevada is in the process of approving online poker play, Delaware is the only state so far to legalize comprehensive online casino gaming.