Delaware became the first US state to legalize online gambling when their legislature voted the Delaware Gaming Competitiveness Act of 2012 into law. It’s expected that Delaware residents could start playing roulette, poker and slots for real money online as soon as January 2013.

The online gambling law allows Delaware residents to play casino games online from their own homes. Gambling online will be strictly limited to residents; and age and address verification procedures will be put in place to insure minors and out of state residents don’t get in on the action.

Why Offer Online Gambling?

Delaware’s gambling bill conceived and introduced to the legislature by state Governor Jack Markell. Markell was concerned that the state’s three legal casino racetracks were losing money and were planning serious layoffs. Though land based casinos will be the major beneficiaries of the bill, they won’t be seeing any of the revenues directly.

Under the Delaware plan, land based casinos will get big breaks on licensing fees (as much as $7 million) while the state collects the revenue from the online casinos. The state lottery commission will be running the online casinos and using the revenue to offset the lost licensing fees.

The bill also authorizes Delaware authorities to enter into gaming compacts with other states. Already, West Virginia has shown interest in this type of partnership.

East Coast Arms Race

Casinos in Delaware, and elsewhere on the Eastern Seaboard, have been feeling the heat from increased gaming competition in the region. That’s why Delaware officials aggressively pushed the state’s gaming bill into law just six months after the Department of Justice decision last December that essentially legalized online gaming.

In passing the bill, Delaware has a real shot at becoming the Silicon Valley of gambling, an honor New Jersey desperately covets. After all, they’ll get first crack at all of those other states that want gaming revenues without actually dealing with sticky infrastructure and licensing issues.

Although Delaware is the first state to actually pass legal online gambling legislation, it’s believed that Nevada will be the first to actually offer online gaming.

What do you think of Delaware’s move to become the first state to offer online gambling to its residents? Let us know on our Online Gambling Laws and Regulations Forum.


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