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Delaware is one of those particularly ambiguous states when it comes to online poker. Some laws may or may not apply to online gambling, but until the courts have a chance to apply them, nobody knows. It's probably safe to play but, then again, maybe not.
Yes. As of 2013, online poker sites in Delaware are currently legal.
Years ago, one would not have pegged Delaware to lead the way for Internet gambling in the United States. As one of the original homes of settlers and their conservative and Puritan views, gambling was frowned upon and made illegal. When the state's constitution was written, lawmakers made sure to prohibit almost every type of gambling, even to go so far as to say that anyone who keeps or exhibits a gaming table, roulette table, or other device "at which cards, dice or any other game of chance is played for money, or other thing of value or other gambling device of any kind whatsoever." However, as the years passed and Delaware entered the 20th century, new laws were passed. In 1974, the Delaware Lottery was established and began selling tickets in 1975. In addition, horse racing was also legalized so the state could build racetracks and compete with neighboring states. Along with that, sports betting was allowed, as were some casino games at the tracks only. Charitable gambling was also permitted under Delaware law.
Q. Why is it taking longer for Delaware to set up legal online poker sites than it did for Nevada?
A. Delaware must establish an oversight committee and a structure for monitoring the internet gambling activities, whereas Nevada had entities in place that could handle the needs of the new endeavor. In addition, Delaware will be setting up for a wide range of online games and must coordinate with the Delaware Lottery to offer lottery tickets as well. The multi-tiered complications in the Delaware system are far more time-consuming than Nevada online poker.
Q. Can anyone play on the Delaware online poker sites?
A. No. As of August 2012, the law states that online poker in Delaware, as with the other game offerings, is on an intrastate basis only, meaning that only Delaware residents are allowed to play. IP addresses will be verified by software to ensure that players are in Delaware. If other states pass their own legislation and want to share player bases, the law could change in the future.
Q. Will casino revenue suffer?
A. Land-based casinos will be hosting and administering the internet gambling websites and legal Delaware online poker sites, so they will be collecting revenue from the established casinos as well as the Internet sites. This should increase revenue for all three entities.
Q. Will online poker sites like PokerStars be able to come into Delaware?
A. At this point, Delaware has authorized its racetrack casino operators as the only licensed entities in the Internet gambling operations. PokerStars has expressed no interest in the public about entering the legal Delaware online poker room landscape, and Delaware has not met with PokerStars.
Poker has been classified as gambling throughout Delaware's history and looked down upon. However, more recent times have allowed poker to be reevaluated, such as in the case of charitable gambling situations and allowances for the game to be played as part of the racetracks' offerings. This didn't seem as if it would translate into any type of Delaware online poker legalization before most other states in America, but that is what happened.
The process for online poker in Delaware was rather fast. In May 2012, a bill was approved by the House Gaming and Pari-mutuels Committee that would allow for online betting, including sports wagering and other types of gambling. The bill, House Bill 333, then passed through the legislature and was signed immediately by Governor Jack Markell; Delaware became the second state in America to legalize online gambling of any kind. The Delaware Gaming Competitiveness Act of 2012 authorized the state to operate online gambling games, including video lottery, slots, keno, and table games like poker. In addition, parlay wagering and lottery tickets will be available to players, and more games can be added as officials deem necessary. To contact legislators in Delaware about any of these issues, click here Know Your Legislators Delaware.
The Internet gambling options will be available on an intrastate basis in Delaware only, but amendments can be made to make it an interstate process if other states so desire. As of August 2012, the three websites - each bearing the name of one of the state's racinos - were in the process of establishing their Internet presence and working out the details of gambling games and Delaware online legal poker sites. Regulations are expected to be made public by January 2013, and play could be available later that year.
The Delaware Lottery alone contributes hundreds of millions of dollars per year to the State General Fund. Since its first year in 1975, more than $3 billion has been raised from the lottery, and it has become one of the largest lottery revenue generators in the United States. Millions are also raised each year from taxes on the racetrack casinos in Delaware. The new online gambling law is expected to add an additional several million dollars per year, with some of that coming from Delaware online poker.
There are three land-based casinos operating in Delaware as of August 2012, with the most well-known being Dover Downs Hotel & Casino. Gaming tax revenue from those three establishments exceeds $225 million annually.