Last week, Delaware Governor Jack Markell raised eyebrows across the United States when he signed a bill that would legalize internet gambling for residents of the Diamond State. Forms of intrastate gambling that would be permitted by the Delaware Gaming Competitiveness Act of 2012 include online blackjack, roulette, poker and slots, among others.
Markell did not have an easy time getting the new online gambling bill passed. It was a close vote in the Senate as opposition deemed the move bad for the public, claiming that the social problems associated with gambling would only swell if wagers were extended to the digital world. Markell, on the other hand, relayed strong support for intrastate online gambling, pointing out the economic benefits of opening thousands of jobs in what is becoming a piquantly competitive market.
The day after the senate voted in favor, by a slight margin, of legalizing such activities as online blackjack and other gambling amusements for real money play, Gov. Markell signed the Delaware Gaming Competitiveness Act of 2012 into effect. Delaware casinos are hoping to be able to launch the new online gaming sites no later than 2013.
Only land-based casinos already operating within the borders of the state will be permitted to begin the development of online gambling websites at this time. Residents of Delaware will be the only patrons permitted to play at the real money casino sites. Geolocation software will be applied to ensure no other players are able to access the virtual gambling venues.
State legislators have already begun making plans for the revenue they expect to receive from online gambling in Delaware, currently estimated at $7.75 million in 2013 alone. A ration of the profits will be utilized to offset the $3.75 million Delaware’s three existing brick-and-mortar casinos are already paying in licensing fees. The idea is that these casinos use the savings to invest in business expansion and marketing.
The democratic governor’s signing of the new intrastate online gambling bill marks the first state in the US to legalize online casino gambling. Other states have already begun offering online lottery sales, and Nevada is in the process of legalizing online poker, but Delaware is the only state to provide casino games, like online blackjack, for real money over the internet.
Delaware’s land-based casinos include Dover Downs in Dover, Harrington Raceway & Casino in Harrington, and the Delaware Park Racetrack & Slots, which also includes the Delaware Park Poker Room, in Wilmington. These three casinos will be responsible for establishing online gambling websites within the rules and regulations of the new legislation, making every possible effort to instate security measures that will thwart underage and problem gambling along the way.
Other states in the US that are strongly weighing the pros and cons (leaning more towards the pros) of legalizing online gambling include California, Illinois, Iowa and New Jersey. Now that Delaware has taken the lead by decriminalizing intrastate online gambling for its citizens, the once rocky road has finally been paved and, as a result, will likely see the hasty progression of other US states signing similar bills into effect in the very near future.