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Delaware says ‘no’ then ‘yes’ to sports betting

May 08, 2009
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Just a few days after a bill that would have allowed sports betting failed to pass the Delaware House by just two votes; an amended version of the  bill was presented and passed. Under the new bill, which passed with a vote of 30-4, Delaware would become the only state east of the Mississippi to allow legal betting on sports events. In addition, the bill which still needs to be passed by the state Senate and signed by Gov. Jack Markell.

The state’s three racetrack/casinos will eventually be allowed to conduct table games instead of just slot machines and electronic gaming. They will also see a share of sports betting revenues and pay yet to be determined licensing fees. The first bill called for collective annual licensing of $4.5 million from the racetrack/casinos.

The governor was a strong backer of the bill which is intended to address the state’s projected budget shortfall of more than $750 million in the new fiscal year.  Markell has proposed a wage decrease of eight percent for Delaware state workers.  The governor said that the current proposal could bring $52 million in fiscal 2010, but that number could be larger if table games are running sooner.

\"My administration worked with the leadership in the house and senate to get this done,\" Markell said in a prepared statement. \"We never stopped fighting to do what was right for the taxpayers of Delaware.\"

Sponsors of the bill have 75 days to write the language spelling out details of the amendment such as distribution of proceeds from table gaming and legislation that is necessary or advisable for the effective administration and enforcement of table games before presenting it for passage.

The bill is opposed by major sports leagues and the NCAA and could face a court challenge.

Delaware, which briefly experimented with a sports lottery in the 1970s, is one of four states grandfathered under a 1992 law that bars states from establishing legal sports betting. Montana, Oregon and Nevada are the others.
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