Delaware state legislators in the House of Representatives have passed a bill allowing sports betting in the state by 28 votes to 10 in an attempt to source further tax revenues. The proposed legalization is now on its way to the state Senate for further debate and voting.
The decision comes after careful consideration and argument, and was undoubtedly influenced by state approved gambling activities in the neighbouring Pennsylvania and Maryland states. Options considered by legislators included allowing Delaware's three slots operations to stay open 24 hours on Sundays and/or permitting sports betting and even table games.
The Delaware Constitution permits horse racing and state-run lotteries but prohibits other forms of gambling. Slot machines are operated by the Delaware Lottery and are formally known as "video lottery terminals" to comply with the law.
Delaware is one of only four states that can legally offer sports betting, because it operated a sports lottery before the 1992 passage of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act that banned sports betting in all states except those that already allowed it. The three other states exempted are Nevada, Oregon and Montana.
If approved by the Senate, Delaware's sports betting will not be similar to that in Las Vegas. A Delaware sports lottery would require combination bets such as parlays to make it more difficult to win.
Nevada is the only state that permits betting on individual sporting events. These include college and professional football and basketball, along with baseball, hockey, boxing and car racing.
The Delaware proposal has its opponents. Governor Ruth Ann Minner is opposed to expanded gambling, leaving open the possibility that any decision on sports betting or table games will have to be signed off by the next governor.
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