State’s gamble on sports betting looks like winner

DOVER — Delaware’s expanded sports betting investment paid off nicely this football season.

Boosted by newly-available single game wagers the First State made $9.1 million on college and professional action. Proceeds were transferred into the state government’s general fund.

So far, wagers on basketball, auto racing, baseball and more have so far returned a combined $11.1 million profit from July 1, 2018 to Feb. 10, 2019.

Overall, $86.7 million in football sales earned $18.5 million in profits, with the house keeping 21.3 percent of all wagers.

“It was a very good year for the state,” Delaware Sports Lottery Director Vernon Kirk said this week.

Offering parlays only (three or more bets all needing to hit for a winning card at increasing odds), 102 retailers profited $1.66 million for the 2018 season, an average of $16,274.50 per business. Owners also made money on the bettors’ purchases (food, drinks, cigarettes, gas, etc,) while in their stores, adding to the lucrative enterprise.

Casinos in Dover, Harrington and Stanton made a combined $2.5 million in football profits, and reaped the same added benefits as retailers — more walk-in traffic from folks spending money elsewhere on the premises in addition to their wagers.

No matter who won the Super Bowl — MVP Julian Edelman’s Patriots or coach Sean McVay’s Rams — the state was guaranteed to profit from futures bets placed on picking the eventual champion at varying odds throughout the season.

Delaware gained $151,500 with New England’s latest Lombardi Trophy grab, and would have collected $164,300 with a couple elusive touchdowns scored by Los Angeles.

This Super Bowl, the state also introduced a litany of 53 proposition bets in addition to picking winners and point spread — pregame coin flip winner, who committed the first accepted penalty, punted first, whether the first play was a run or pass and many more.

Harrington Raceway, Dover Downs and Delaware Park received $1.48 million for football, and the standardbred and thoroughbred operations also receive purse supplements from video lottery and table games profits.

“The culture of parlay cards held up because it’s fun for those who don’t follow sports so closely and not so serious as the single game wagers,” Mr. Kirk said.

Delaware’s financial success hasn’t gone unnoticed by other states, and legalized sports wagering arrived in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and West Virginia following a U.S. Supreme Court decision in May 2018.

Still others are exploring the possibilities and in various stages of legislation — Maryland, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Virginia, New Hampshire, Maine, South Carolina and New York, along with Washington D.C.

“I think we’re going to be facing increased competition from surrounding states but also believe that we’ve established a (model) where the customer had a good experience, won some money (at times) and will come back again to visit us,” Mr. Kirk said.

Picking a champ

Following are preseason and closing odds to win the Super Bowl for the final eight NFL playoff teams as of Jan. 8, 2019:

Patriots – 7-1, 5-1

Eagles – 9-2, 8-1

Rams – 12-1, 5-1

Saints – 16-1, 2-1

Cowboys – 25-1, 14-1

Chiefs – 22-1, 9-2

Chargers – 25-1, 8-1

Colts – 75-1, 12-1

NOTES

• The state profited $151,500 when the Patriots won, and would have gained $164,300 if the Rams prevailed.

• Last season’s Eagles title cost the state $354,500.

• Odds varied throughout the season.

• Futures bet sales were $409,300 this year.

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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