Thursday June 28,2012 : DELAWARE SENATORS VOTE ONLINE GAMBLING BILL THROUGH (Update)
A major milestone in US legalization
Delaware's state senators finally pulled together Wednesday to pass HB333, and once Gov. Jack Markell signs the bill into law, the state will become the most advanced so far in the fight to legalise online gambling in the United States.
The state Senate sent the bill to Gov. Markell's desk on a 14 to 6 positive vote with a single abstention after a one day delay in calling the vote due to cautious politicians and the harness horse racing industry’s haggling for a bigger slice of the pie.
Delaware jumped into the internet gambling debate following a US Justice Department legal interpretation in December last year that allows states to authorise Internet gambling within their borders.
The latest development represents a significant step forward in the long-running debate between the U.S. Congress and government, states and gambling companies.
The bill will bring legal online casino gaming to Delaware and expand the state’s betting offerings beyond the confines of existing casinos, and is seen as a viable way to help state casinos facing aggressive competition from new venues in neighbouring states.
Online slot-machine play and casino games such as blackjack and poker will be accessible through Delaware casino websites, controlled and regulated centrally by the state Lottery Office. Delaware lottery tickets also will be offered for sale on a state-run website.
Geolocation software will be used to determine that players are within state borders.
Officials told local media that they expect to have 20 to 30 additional sports betting outlets in place before the start of the NFL season and 100 Keno retailers up and running by year’s end, with online gambling scheduled for launch in early 2013.
Some of the revenues from the latter will be used to soften the $3.75 million in licensing fees currently paid by land operators, encouraging them to invest more growth and marketing capital.
State finance department officials have estimated that the revenues flowing from the new legalization should hit $7.75 million in 2013 alone.
Senate President Pro Tem Anthony DeLuca, who drove the bill through, said it was important to keep Delaware at the forefront of developing new and better gambling options.
Top Dover Downs exec Ed Sutor said the new gambling law will go a long way to making state racecourses more competitive with external rivals.
A late amendment that could have disrupted the passage of the bill was pulled by Sen. Bruce Ennis after administration officials promised to reconsider how much money the harness horseracing industry would get, once the new dispensation was up and running.
One Democratic Party Senator, Robert Venables, later said he had voted the wrong way due to confusion because he had turned down his hearing aid. He thought he was voting for the later abandoned Ennis amendment.