Delaware Real Money Online Gambling

When people think of the most permissive states in the country toward real money gambling, states like Nevada and New Jersey usually come to mind, and hardly anyone would put little Delaware in this group. The answer to which state first approved online casino gambling is actually Delaware, and even before these other two much more famous gambling states, which demonstrates just how much things have opened up in Delaware over the last 15 years, to become completely open now.

Gambling in Delaware now has it all, from bingo to home poker games to betting on horses, to playing slots, to a wide variety of land-based casino games, to live poker, to both land-based and online sports betting, to online poker and casino sites.

Nothing is left out here, and we are not even in a position to suggest something else the state could permit as far as gambling goes, with their even permitting using popular deposit options such as credit cards and internet wallets like you used to be able to do before the UIGEA. There’s lots to show you as far as what gambling this state has, the full menu.

History of Gambling in Delaware

Delaware Online Casinos and SlotsDelaware got its first horse race track in 1760, at a time when Delaware was just a colony and had no laws for or against betting on these things or anything for that matter. This was at a time well before pari-mutuel wagering and bets in those days were made among the gamblers themselves, private wagering in other words. This did later become against the law, but this practice continued on anyway and the law was simply ignored.

Lotteries were legal during the British Colony days, by permission of the British Crown, but once the colonies gained their independence, lotteries in these new states started to meet with more and more public opposition. By 1840, there were only three states that still had lotteries, Missouri, Kentucky, and Delaware. Lotteries in Delaware were eventually stopped, but the state hung on to them far longer than their fellow original states.

There are always elements of society that are opposed to gambling, those who feel that their opinion on whether people should be allowed to wager on things has some sort of objective merit, where someone else somehow decides how people should be allowed to spend their own money. This attitude was particularly prevalent in the United States in the 19th century, and perhaps the greatest testimony to how liberal Delaware is toward gambling is how successful they were at beating back these forces for as long as they did, for over 150 years in fact.

However, after the WWI, the oppressors finally did gain the upper hand and managed to finally shut down the practice of betting on horses. It wasn’t that this was legal, and in fact it was not, but Delaware looked the other way for as long as it could until the din simply became too loud to ignore anymore. Given that this effort was not to make gambling illegal, as it already was, it was just to get the state to finally enforce existing laws against it, which people finally succeeded in doing.

Delaware horse race betting wasn’t absent for long though, and the coming of the Great Depression caused many states to change their thinking toward gambling, especially since this was at a time where pari-mutuel wagering was beginning to be offered and this allowed states to add to their dwindling revenue by taxing it.

Pro-gambling forces had been trying to legalize horse race betting ever since it was put out of business, and the state of Delaware’s financial situation taking a downturn was just the recipe that they were looking for to turn the tide back in their favor. The battle was settled in 1933 with the legalization of pari-mutuel racing and the creation of the Delaware Racing Commission to regulate it.

There weren’t any such tracks at the time, but in 1937, Delaware Park was completed. It was joined by Harrington Raceway in 1946 and Dover Downs in 1969, and all 3 not only are still in operation, they host all of Delaware’s gambling action to this day, as much as it has expanded since. This includes all of the land-based casino action as well as the state’s online gambling operation.

The next step forward was to pass a law allowing for charitable bingo in 1957, and Delaware went as far as to create the Delaware Bingo Control Commission to regulate it. Like with horse race betting, bingo was very popular in Delaware for a very long time prior to it being legalized, with the law simply being ignored, but now the state had the means to better regulate it by making it legal.

Delaware settled for just betting on horses and bingo until 1974, when the Delaware Lottery was born. Delaware was on the front lines among states that legalized pari-mutuel racing, and they were on the front line as well when it came to getting the lottery, at a time when few states had it.

Delaware might appear to have arrived late to the game of allowing legal casino gambling, waiting until 2006 to allow their three racetracks to add slots and become racinos, but almost all of the new casinos that were built prior to that in other states had been Indian casinos, where states were forced into tolerating. Delaware also did not have the pressure of competing with tribal casinos as they did and still do not have any of them, but their relative permissiveness toward gambling finally did get them to approve slots, and 3 years later, full casino gambling.

Delaware now had 3 casinos, one at each of their 3 racetracks. Now that gambling really had a lot of momentum going for in this state, Delaware just kept going. In 2012, just 3 years after permitting land-based full casino gambling, Delaware became the first state in the country to approve online casino gambling, and added online poker as well while they were at it.

This only left online sports betting to approve, but there was a federal law that stood in the way that was actually unconstitutional as it extended the powers of the federal government beyond what the U.S. constitution allowed. When the U.S. Supreme Court agreed and struck down this law in 2018, Delaware was waiting outside the door and immediately added it to their offerings, including online sports betting.

While just about every other state in the country still has certain forms of gambling that they are yet to approve, with the prospects of these other states fully opening up their gambling scene being years away at best, Delaware has already completed this project, and people need not wonder what it’s legal to bet on in Delaware, because the answer is that you can bet on anything here legally.

Delaware Key Facts

  • Abbreviation: DE
  • State Motto: Liberty and Independence
  • Capital City: Dover
  • Largest City: Wilmington
  • Population Estimate: 973,764 (46th)
  • Website: delaware.gov

Delaware Gambling Laws

Given that Delaware permits all major forms of gambling, it is not surprising that their focus is primarily on prohibiting the operation of gambling and not so much on the gambling itself, much like Nevada does. This isn’t quite as clean as Nevada’s approach though, which exclusively focuses on gambling being offered without the state’s permission, where Delaware’s laws are more on the quirky side.

It is not that Delaware does not prohibit certain types of gambling, although does not do so in the normal way, prohibiting certain types of gambling games such as games of chance, as Delaware’s approach is much more confined and specific. Being in possession of gambling devices or promoting gambling without a license are both against the law, and this includes any device used for the purposes of gambling, including a table where implements such as cards or dice or any device is used to settle wagers of items of value.

This in itself does not make it against the law to sit at a table and gamble at a card game, although the person who owns the table is potentially subject to arrest for possessing a gambling device, and Delaware’s law is written such that any gambling at any table or machine would fall under possessing a gambling device.

The fact that faro tables are prominently featured in this law shows us how old this law is, with faro last being popular as a gambling game well over a century ago. The four examples used as gambling devices are gaming tables, faro tables, roulette tables, and sweat cloths, whatever a sweat cloth being used for gambling might consist of, a concept that apparently has been lost in time and isn’t even identifiable anymore. However, if anyone was considering using one to gamble, it’s illegal in Delaware.

As is the custom with prohibition against gambling devices, Delaware also includes “any other device under any denomination at which cards, dice, or any other game of chance is played for money.” We’re left to decide whether playing these games on the floor would count, or playing on the ground outside for that matter, as this requires us to consider the floor and the ground as a gambling device, whereas we would normally consider the floor or the ground to be that which gambling devices are placed, not a gambling device in itself, which would require it to be distinct from the absence of devices.

This law, amusingly, makes it against the law to play a real money gambling game on any table but not on the floor, which goes to show that Delaware, in the times of faro tables and sweat cloths, didn’t put near enough thought into this law.

Oddly enough, there is a game of chance that is also against the law to be found playing, where both gamblers engaged in games of chance and those offering or promoting it may both be arrested, within the prohibition of “engaging in a crap game.” It is against the law specifically to engage “in a game commonly known as crap,” although this game has never been called crap at any time during its history, and it might even be a defense to claim that the game you got caught playing was craps not crap.

Even though crap is designated as a gambling game played with dice, as is the game of craps, a similar sounding name may not be specific enough and this is at the very least a careless mistake, much like banning a game known at one time as “poke” and wondering whether it is the same game now known as poker, where even though both are played with cards, one extra letter added may involve a different game in some way.

The other instance where you can be found to be breaking Delaware law by engaging in gambling is with placing wagers on “any trial or contest, wherever conducted, of skill, speed, power, or endurance of human or beast.” This takes care of both offering or betting on games of skill, and the “wherever conducted” part prohibits things like betting on these contests even if they occur outside of the state, like off-track horse race betting or sporting events held elsewhere.

This law was written well before Delaware started allowing wagers on contests of skill among beasts in 1933, and given that they have since legalized every other form of wagering as well, this is not a state that gamblers even need to pay attention to the state’s gambling law, when they are specifically allowing it, even the game of “crap.” The goal here is still to keep out unauthorized gambling operations in the state, and as dusty as this old law may be, it still accomplishes this feat pretty well.

As far as social gambling goes, when we consider the fact that Delaware has not ever authorized this, and the law could certainly be interpreted as rendering home games illegal, these things ultimately come down to how the courts interpret laws, and we do have legal precedent with this, even though it was set long ago.

In two separate cases where the State of Delaware charged players with social gambling, in 1910 and 1918, the courts determined that this sort of gambling, non-commercial home games, did not break Delaware gambling law, and it happens to be the exact same law that applies today.

Strictly speaking, home games should be seen as illegal in Delaware to this day, but not if you presume the intent of the law is to prohibit all unauthorized commercial gambling, and perhaps being partial to gambling personally may have tilted the scales, but this precedent does allow Delawareans to socially gamble with confidence, especially since no one has been arrested for this since those 2 cases.

Land-Based Gambling in Delaware

Almost all gambling begins and ends with Delaware’s 3 horse racing tracks, and this includes everything but the state lottery, charitable bingo, and home poker games. Home games for money have always been legal in Delaware, according to the state’s courts at least, who are the people who get to decide these things ultimately.

Charitable bingo has been going on for far longer than the over 60 years that it’s been legal in the state, as the law did not make any exceptions for charities. Bingo machines surely qualify as a game that uses devices to operate a game of chance for money, but the authorities simply did not care enough to want to charge these bingo operators with a crime, and whether or not the intent of Delaware’s gambling laws was to focus on limiting commercial gambling only, it sure did end up that way in practice.

The lottery was very popular in Delaware earlier in its history, extending to its colonial days, and unlike some new states, Delaware kept lotteries legal well into statehood. They eventually were forced out, but it made a comeback in 1974, and the Delaware Lottery has served the lottery betting needs of Delawareans ever since.

Delaware’s penchant for betting on horse races also extends back until its colonial days, but horse race betting was far harder to get rid of by those opposed to gambling than lotteries were, and only took a relatively brief hiatus between the end of the First World War and the start of the Great Depression.

Delaware has had continuous pari-mutuel horse racing since 1937, even though Dover Downs took a few years off when it had the idea of just becoming a NASCAR track. Both were built together, and it wasn’t long until the horses were back and remain today.

When you add slots to an animal racing track, they call it a racino. When you add not only slots but casino table games, live poker, and live sports betting, as well as running all of Delaware’s online poker, online casino, and online sports betting sites, these aren’t just racinos, they are places where you can bet on it all, including the horses.

Dover Downs is Delaware’s largest casino, with horse racing, auto racing, 2,700 slot machines, 41 table games, sports betting, and an 18 table poker room. It also comes with an upscale 500 room hotel, as well as numerous other amenities including a variety of dining and entertainment options.

Delaware Park, Delaware’s first racetrack, also offers a full range of gambling options in addition to its sports betting. They have 2,500 slot machines on hand, in addition to a full range of all the popular casino table games, a 25 table poker room, as well as a sportsbook. There is no hotel here, but they do have a golf course, as well as 10 restaurants and 4 bars.

The Harrington Raceway and Casino is the smallest of the three in terms of casino gaming, but they still pack quite a bit into their racetrack. All these Delaware racetracks still offer betting on horses, including the Harrington, who also roll out 1,800 slot machines, an extensive range of casino table games, in addition to a sportsbook which all casinos in Delaware also offer. Harrington offers several dining options and is also well known for its live events.

All three super racinos offer everything you could wish to bet on, although the Harrington only sets up live poker tables upon request, and the other two have good sized poker rooms. Delaware is very well stocked with every form of land-based gambling you can bet on.

  • List of Land Based Casinos in Delaware
    CasinoAddressPhone
    Delaware Park Casino777 Delaware Park Blvd, Wilmington, DE 19804302-994-2521
    Dover Downs Hotel & Casino1131 N Dupont Hwy, Dover, DE 19901302-674-4600
    Harrington Raceway & Casino18500 S Dupont Hwy, Harrington, DE 19952302-398-4920

Delaware Online Casinos & Slots Gambling

There is usually lots to say about online gambling in a state, in just about every state, as far as how they could improve this scene and where players can play while they wait for their state to finally open up their online doors to all three main forms of gambling.

Delaware’s online gambling scene is complete though, and if you live in Delaware, you can not only gamble at real money online poker, place real money sports bets, and play real money casino games online, you can do it with the full approval and support of the state of Delaware.

Although a great many people are confused into thinking that state governments or anyone has any say in people being able to gamble online or not, thinking that whatever laws a state may have against online gambling could ever be enforced, there is nothing confusing about just making these things legal. No one wonders anymore about these things.

There’s also the benefit of being able to use the same deposit methods that people used to back before the UIGEA, which scared off the great majority of payment processors. No one is scared of anything in Delaware though, because the U in UIGEA stands for unlawful, and this is all perfectly lawful here.

All 3 of Delaware’s racetracks and casinos offer real money online casino, real money online poker, and sports betting sites, and while the state surely did not want to show bias here and leave anyone out, spreading it around like this does encourage competition at least.

Each runs its own casino and sports betting operations, and with real money online poker, all three team up with 888 to share players with those in Nevada and New Jersey. Delaware is far too small to support an online poker site by themselves, as you need enough players to make a poker site work, but the combined player pool from three states allow for this site to be run successfully.

Delaware online gambling is at the same level of that in these other two states, with nothing even to add. This is surely as good as it gets.

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Future of Gambling in Delaware

In a state that already has everything as far as gambling goes, there’s not a whole lot left to want, especially when you have online gambling that provides you the ability to bet on whatever you want from anywhere in the state and at any time you desire.

Both sports betting and casino games can be run maximally well one player at a time, where you place your bets on servers and no other players are required to be involved. The only big opportunity that more players offer is with live dealer betting, where online sites do need enough interest to be able to roll out these forms of online casino table games profitably, and like land-based casinos, you need a certain amount of player interest to make this work.

This actually does play somewhat of a role with server based online casino games, and Delaware’s three online casino sites don’t really have anywhere near as many players as the big online sites do, the ones that not only have enough interest in live dealer games but can also offer a bigger selection of casino games overall.

This could be improved by better networking, and it’s not that these racetracks have foraged off on their own to build their own sites and software, and instead rely on major industry providers, but there may be some opportunities to expand this by having these providers expanding their offerings to the Delaware market.

The preference thus far is to look to ring-fence players within a given market, and Delaware’s online gambling market is a small one indeed, and this leads to a smaller scale as far as game selection when you limit these games to those within the market.

While players in a certain market do need to be tagged, there are other ways to do this, to allow players to play on a provider’s main sites, for instance allowing them to access everything that a provider like 888 offers on their main site, the one that most of the world plays at. The approach that Denmark introduced which allows players to play on any approved site and have their play tagged for regulatory and taxation purposes makes a lot more sense, but ring fencing remains the popular option, even with poker, where this matters a whole lot more.

It would be less of a challenge for these operators to do this with the U.S. market than international ones, a market that is still in its infancy where state regulated real money online gambling is concerned. Delaware certainly had the right idea as far as its approach to poker, and there is no way a poker site could ever survive with the very small player base that Delaware has, but this market in the U.S. overall is still relatively small, especially compared to the potential, if most states could team up with Delaware on this and not just a couple of other states as we see now.

There actually is therefore still some room for improvement with the Delaware real money online gambling scene, even though they have all 3 types already, poker, casino, and sports betting. Delaware has done all they can do though, and they will have to wait until more states get on board with this, and the United States used to have over half the regulated online gambling in the market even without regulating it prior to the big offshore sites getting scared away some years ago.

The potential for a regulated market is even bigger, given how many more people would participate if this were regulated in their own state rather than in the far-flung jurisdictions that Americans have been forced to rely on in the absence of their own governments getting in on the game.

As time passes and more do, this will serve to improve the U.S. market overall, where we could put together sites that would actually stand up and even possibly surpass anything out there now, the sites that we aren’t allowed to play at anymore like PokerStars’ main poker site or 888’s massive selection at their main online casino.

Delaware could also stand to improve their view on where people should be allowed to gamble, and become more like Montana by allowing bars to offer slots, where just a liquor license qualifies for a slot license. There are several states that allow small establishments to offer real money slots, and until you do, you just aren’t fully open yet.

Delaware’s overall offerings might not be at the pinnacle yet, but they are still much further along than just about every other state these days, as they wait for others to catch up. In the meantime, betting on everything you want with at least a good selection is a lot closer to the ideal at least, quite close actually, so Delawarean gamblers are pretty lucky even as things currently stand.

Delaware Online Slots & Casinos FAQs
  • When did Delaware first get lotteries?

    While most people believe that Delaware got its first lottery when the Delaware Lottery was created in 1974, those who know this state’s history know that lotteries in Delaware go back much further than this. It was quite fashionable for the original American colonies to run lotteries in the colonial days, but most got out of the lottery business fairly soon after they became states. Delaware hung on to its lottery far longer than its sister colonies, well into the 19th century.

  • How long has Delaware had horse race betting?

    Like with their approach to the lottery, Delaware’s penchant for sports betting goes back a long way before it became legal in 1933. The practice actually goes back to 1760, when Delaware got its first horse racing track and patrons would place bets among themselves on the outcomes. Making this illegal didn’t serve to stop it, as it just went on with authorities simply looking the other way. Opponents did manage to get the law enforced for a short time, but Delaware struck back by simply making it legal and putting an end to the discussion.

  • What is Delaware’s approach to managing gambling in their state?

    Delaware’s laws are pretty comprehensive when it comes to offering gambling, and manages to virtually shut down any such offering of wagering on games or contests, even though their law hasn’t been updated in over a century. As quirky and dated as it is, it does serve its purpose, even today, which is to prohibit the offering of any real money gambling in the state without the state’s permission. They do hand out permission to gamble on anything these days though.

  • How has Delaware enforced its gambling laws through the years?

    When we look upon Delaware’s history, gambling has been permitted in the state regardless of what they law may have said about it, and there is a benefit to gambling laws so old, as they show us what the laws have looked throughout the years as it’s the same law. Lotteries were run well before they were legal, betting on horse racing was tolerated over a century before it became legal, and charitable bingo was run in the open way before it finally became legalized. This is a state that has always embraced gambling regardless of what the law may have allowed.

  • Does Delaware permit social gambling?

    Social gambling, gambling at home among friends without the games being skimmed by an operator, isn’t legal in all states, but only those seriously opposed to gambling do not permit it. Delaware is not among those states, even though they haven’t bothered to write in exemptions to it in their gambling law. We do have a couple of court cases to rely on from over a century ago, where people were arrested for social gambling and were found not guilty on the basis of state law not prohibiting it. This is not what the law says, unless the game is played on the floor without the benefit of a “sweat cloth,” but the courts get to have the last word on this.

  • What does Delaware’s history tell us about how open they are to gambling now?

    We might think that Delaware came out of nowhere when it started really opening the doors in 2006 and beckoned in gambling in all forms, from just horse race betting the lottery, and bingo, there may not be another state so open to gambling when we consider the over 350 years that Delaware has been open to it. Delaware showed its fondness for gambling even before it became a state, and it has remained popular since, even seeing the state ignore its own laws to allow it.

  • What land-based gambling does Delaware currently enjoy?

    The lottery is back in Delaware and has been continually offered since 1974. Charitable bingo is also legal, and Delaware even has a bingo commission. Pari-mutuel betting on horses in Delaware has been offered continually since 1937, and their 3 racetracks also now offer every other sort of land-based gambling there is, including slots, casino table games, live poker, and live sports betting. Players may also enjoy home games provided that only the players benefit.

  • How could Delaware improve its land-based gambling?

    In a state that already offers every sort of land-based gambling there is, there really isn’t anything to add to this in terms of different things to gamble at, although they could offer this in more locations than just these three racetracks. While the state may not be able to handle any more casinos, they could certainly decide to spread it out more by allowing slot machines to be spread out a lot more, so there is still a line that the state has yet to choose to cross.

  • What does Delaware have for regulated online gambling?

    Delaware became the first state to offer both real money online casino and real money online poker, all the way back in 2012, at the dawn of the discussion about online gambling in the United States. They were held back by a federal law prohibiting them from offering online sports betting, but once that law was struck down as unconstitutional in 2018, Delaware wasted no time adding it and now regulate all three forms of real money online gambling.

  • How could Delaware’s online gambling be improved?

    Unlike with land-based gambling, where Delaware can still benefit from allowing more than their three horse racetracks to offer land-based casino gambling, there are no gaps like this online as the internet reaches everyone by its very nature. Improvements in Delaware’s real money online gambling experience can only be achieved by the operators of these online sites allowing better access to their overall networks, offering a wider selection of casino gaming choices as well as eventual access to bigger player pools with real money online poker.

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Chief Editor: Mike leverages his true passion for online gambling to create a uniquely informative site that takes players well beyond the standard fare in the industry.