When Delaware passed the Delaware Gaming Competitiveness Act of 2012, state legislators believed it would yield positive results for its casino industry. With other states like Nevada in the game and many others considering entry into it, Delaware hoped to be one of the innovators in the United States.
The Delaware Internet Lottery set up a single-provider system that involved a joint venture with Scientific Games and 888 Holdings. Whereas the latter had the experience in the global online gaming industry, the former was already a partner in the live slot machine business in Delaware and was prepared to oversee the geo-location verification and player identification. The companies worked together for many months to prepare for an online gaming launch, which was set to include online poker, on October 31.
Big Launch, Little Stakes
Online gaming did launch on October 31, but it was a testing period for the first seven days in order to work out any kinks with the initial product. Players invited to participate could access online gaming on the websites for Delaware Park, Dover Downs, and Harrington Raceway. The sites then opened to the general public – anyone logging in from within the state boundary of Delaware – on November 8.
According to US Poker, the online poker site offered No Limit Hold’em, Limit Hold’em, and Pot Limit Omaha with several low limits of each, from $.01/$.02 of NLHE and PLO up to $5/$10 of LHE. Rake was set at five percent at all of the tables, with the maximum at $3 or $4 for most games. It also looks as if Omaha H/L, Seven Card Stud, and Stud H/L will be added at a later date. SNGs are available, but multi-table tournaments have not yet been released.
But I Came to Gamble!
Regarding casino games, there were 20 of them available upon the hard launch, including video poker, roulette, blackjack, and virtual slot machines. Bonuses were available to players as well, including free slot spins and a 100% signup bonus on any initial deposit of up to $200. Players can earn Status Points to accumulate bonus amounts, which expire in 30 days.
Dude, Where’s My Traffic?
PocketFives issued a report on the initial launch, noting that the three websites had peak online poker cash game numbers of 15 players on November 7, with that number up to 24 on November 8, according to PokerScout data.
Early Software Bugs Abound
As expected, there were some initial glitches that were not worked out during the soft launch. As Nevada online poker players experienced, Delaware players had some issues with geolocation verification. For example, if a player’s cell phone number is linked to an IP address in another state, such as happens with Verizon FiOS, Delaware will not verify and allow that player to have access. PocketFives also reported that some players a “remote program” active on their computers prohibited them from seeing the Terms of Service.
Low numbers and initial verification problems were overcome by Ultimate Poker, the first online poker site to launch in Nevada, as well as its eventual competitor WSOP.com. Delaware will likely find solutions to its problems in a matter of weeks, and the number of players will likely increase over time.
However, as a Delaware Lottery representative recently admitted, the site is a “pretty big technological challenge” but experienced gaming partners will be beneficial in working through it. And initial talks with states like Nevada about interstate compacts may be able to solve some of the liquidity problems going forward.