Nevada’s monopoly on full-scale sports betting lasted more than a half-century, but it ended on Tuesday afternoon as Delaware’s three racinos took their first legal non-parlay sports bets.
Big hype, modest turnout
ESPN and numerous regional TV and radio affiliates swarmed the Dover Downs racino sports book 30 minutes before Gov. John Carney made the first bet – $10 on the underdog Philadelphia Phillies over the Chicago Cubs.
But bettors? Not so much on a Tuesday afternoon in June in a state with fewer than 1 million residents. There were no lines for either sports betting teller at Dover Downs in the first hour of legalization.
The first “regular Joe” to make a bet was Stu Feiner of Farmingdale, Long Island, who is not exactly that. Feiner, sporting a “I’ll Kill Your Bookmaker” t-shirt, has 30,000 Twitter followers and claims to be the basis for Al Pacino’s character in the 2005 movie, “Two For The Money.”
Feiner placed “four nickels” – $500 each, unrolling a crisp roll of $100 bills – on four Major League baseball games.
“Sports betting is for the rich to have fun and lose money,” Feiner said.
FIRST PUBLIC BET MADE OUTSIDE OUT VEGAS IS STU FEINER. LETS FUCKING ROLL pic.twitter.com/T1EMCUTz6A
— Stu Feiner (@StuSource) June 5, 2018
But most of the early bettors were far less aggressive.
Jason Carletti of Clayton, Delaware made $5 bets on Cleveland over Golden State in Game 3 of the NBA Finals on Wednesday, as well as on the Phillies and on Germany. Brazil, and Argentina to win the World Cup soccer tournament.
Carletti, a fan of Philadelphia sports teams, lamented that Delaware’s legalization came four months too late for him to place a winning bet on the Eagles to win the Super Bowl.
Charles “Chief” Robbins was among several bettors Tuesday who drove up from Virginia to make modest bets on the Washington Redskins, a 75-to-1 shot to win the Super Bowl.
“I like to do analysis for some of the futures betting,” Robbins said. “It’s a lot of fun doing the research, and it’s fun to come here for the atmosphere instead of sitting at home with a bag of Cheetos and picking up the phone.”
Delaware had easy path to full-scale sports betting
New Jersey footed a $9 million legal bill over six years, culminating in last month’s landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling that wiped out the Professional and Amateur Sports Act of 1992. With the finding that Congress had overstepped its bounds in “commandeering” most states into barring sports betting, the path is now clear for any state to offer it.
Delaware had been grandfathered in a quarter-century ago with permission to offer multi-game parlay bets on the NFL. The state Lottery, therefore, was easily able to expand its offerings to mirror a Las Vegas sports book at its racinos.
But while parlay betting is offered everywhere from liquor stores to Buffalo Wild Wings restaurants in Delaware, Governor Carney said he doesn’t foresee those outlets adding single-game betting. But state officials have discussed rolling out online sports betting options by this fall.
While betting was available on Tuesday’s Major League Baseball games as well as the NBA Finals, futures bets such as the Jets at 100-1 to win the Super Bowl or Argentina at 5-1 to win the World Cup also were on the board at each racino.
Monmouth Park racetrack and Borgata casino in Atlantic City could take their own bets as soon as Friday, but it is not clear how quickly first-year Gov. Phil Murphy will sign a bill legalizing the gambling.
William Hill U.S. chief executive Joe Asher, who worked at Dover Downs as a teenager, attended Tuesday’s ceremony. Asher, whose company is the partner of Monmouth Park, said he could not offer a specific target date for the launch of sports betting there beyond “very soon.” Asher spent part of Monday at the Oceanport track overseeing sports betting training for employees.
Numerous other states are well down the road to legalization and could offer their own sports betting sometime this year.
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