The dream of legally betting sports outside of Nevada finally becomes a reality Tuesday morning in Delaware as they’ll accept their first wager just weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court repealed the Professional Sports Protection Act now allowing all states the opportunity to get the betting ball rolling.
“Delaware was our nation’s First State, so it’s only fitting that it will take the first bet of the post-PASPA era,” said Joe Asher, CEO of William Hill US. “It’s also where I was born and grew up, and I am honored to join Governor (John) Carney on Tuesday at Dover Downs, where I worked as a teenager, to mark this historic occasion and welcome in a new, exciting era in sports betting.”
It is new and exciting for sure and it’s made easier for Dover Downs and two other casinos within the state to take wagers because they have books operating there already, except they could only accept parlay wagers. William Hill, under its Brandywine Bookmaking subsidiary, has been the exclusive risk manager for the Delaware State Lottery since 2009.
When William Hill entered the U.S. market, it was entirely for the purpose of one day soon having PASPA repealed. They bought out Vic Salerno’s Leroy’s brand, Asher’s Lucky’s brand, and Cal Neva and merged them all together and gave Asher the CEO title with around 108 outlets throughout Nevada. He made it all happen and believed it was pivotal to get ahead of the game and be ready when PASPA was eventually axed.
Asher originally came to Las Vegas with the same idea while working for Cantor Fitzgerald in New York. He came to town and recruited for what would be Cantor Gaming (now CG Technology) and that was when I first had the chance to meet him. He later formed his own company, Brandywine. Cantor Gaming wasn’t too happy about Asher leaving and actually sued him.
Meanwhile, Cantor Gaming poured millions into the state with overpriced leases, massive advertising campaigns and building beautiful books around town. They were waiting for the gates to open with PASPA. Asher waited it out slow and methodically, while Cantor Gaming CEO Lee Amaitis didn’t stick around to see his dream unfold.
So when Governor Carney makes the first straight bet wager outside of Nevada on Tuesday, it signifies a long time coming and also gives a nod to Asher who has been there during the entire battle. While I think it would be appropriate for the governor to make that bet on a NASCAR race, which is held on the Dover property, something they haven’t been able to bet on twice a year when NASCAR visits, I’m guessing he’ll make a wager on the Eagles to win the Super Bowl or cover -4.5 in the Eagles’ Thursday night season opener against the Falcons.
Philadelphia is only 90 minutes away from Dover so it will be very interesting to see what kind of handle they get from a major market. There are dozens of betting syndicates around the country that are simply looking for the best number and price. Some bet legally within Nevada, but most bet illegally with off-shore or a local bookie.
Will Chilly Willy from South Philly, who books out of the back end of a bar be affected much? Will his clientele be lured to Dover to make wagers, or is the ease of betting with the bookie still more attractive – bet with credit and settle up on Tuesdays?
New Jersey, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Mississippi all have bills passed and would like to be up and running by football season. Although West Virginia has some funky verbiage in its bill and bad advice they should fix before getting their operation started, such as keeping the leagues out of the language. They don’t deserve anything. In fact, that’s perfect. “League’s get nothing” should be put in the bill.
What I eventually see is a huge competitive battle for customers and their dollars dictating a change in what is eventually offered in Nevada. Off-shore has been offering better numbers for years to get their share and Nevada basically yawned, but it’s much different now.
No city will ever beat the Las Vegas sports betting experience, but laying less juice is something that will be attractive and will help make decisions for bettors. “If I can lay -108 on a phone account in Temecula, why drive to Las Vegas and lay -110 and pay $8.50 for a Bud Light on the Strip?”
Congratulations, Delaware! Welcome to the party. We’ve been waiting for you for a long time.