Delaware is now poised to become the second state to legalize online gaming. On Wednesday, that state’s Senate passed a bill that would legalize web table games, including poker, video lottery games, and traditional lottery games to be offered online.
Democratic Governor Jack Markell supports the bill and is expected to sign it into law soon. Earlier in the month the bill passed the state’s house of representatives by a 29-8 vote.
The bill, known as the Delaware Gaming Competitiveness Act of 2012, would authorize the state lottery and the three racetrack casinos it regulates to offer various form of Internet gambling, including poker. The bill would also authorize NFL parlay betting and keno. Games likely would not be live until early 2013.
After the bill is signed into law, Delaware will become the second U.S. state, after Nevada, to legalize online gaming. Nevada recently issued its first licenses authorizing companies in the state to offer online poker.
After the Department of Justice issued a legal opinion last December that purely intrastate online gaming did not violate the Wire Act, several states have explored legalizing online gaming to generate revenue and create jobs. The Delaware bill was motivated in part by efforts to retain jobs at the state’s racetrack casinos and to generate revenue for the state. The State Department of Finance projects that the bill would generate $7.75 million in new state revenues.
The small population of Delaware makes it unclear if there will be enough people to support the games. The law allows the state to explore compacts with other states to share gamers. Rhode Island and West Virginia have been mentioned as states that would be interested in such a compact, but those states would need to pass similar legislation to put a compact into effect.
The state lottery will operate the online gambling sites and is required to use verification systems to ensure that gamers are within the state and minors are excluded.
We support Delaware’s efforts to legalize online gaming in the interests of bringing jobs and badly needed revenue to the state. We will see if this leads to other states passing similar laws.