Under federal law, gambling is generally not illegal. Surprised? There are some caveats, of course, but states have taken it upon themselves to regulate the gaming industry. This has resulted in each of the fifty states having laws that make various forms of gambling either explicitly legal or illegal. The most common forms of gambling in the United States include: horse racing, tribal casinos, commercial gambling, charitable gambling, and the state lottery.
Delaware and Online Gambling
The First State, meanwhile, is a trailblazer when it comes to state gambling laws. In 2012, Delaware became the first state to enter the realm of legal online casino gambling. (New Jersey and Nevada were also at the front of the pack on online gambling legislation.) Delaware passed legislation allowing for full-service betting websites offering slots play and games like roulette, poker and blackjack.
Then in 2013, Delaware's three casinos launched the first phase of the state's online gambling operation, opening Web portals for free slots, poker, blackjack and roulette games. The no-money games were a precursor to the state's coming full-service, real-cash online gambling operation that arrived in 2014. That's when Delaware became the first state in the nation to offer a full complement of legal casino games online.
While the free games were open to players anywhere in the world, the real-money games were available only to players within Delaware's borders, in accordance with federal law.
Quickly Evolving Delaware Gambling Laws
As you can see, this is a swiftly moving area of the law for Delaware. The following box is a brief breakdown of gambling laws in Delaware, but be sure to do your own legal research to ensure you know of the latest law.
|Code Section||3-10001 et seq.; 11-1401 et seq.|
|Gambling||Recording or registering bets or wagers, or directly or indirectly betting or wagering, money or anything of value.|
|Horse Racing/Off-Track Betting||Horse and harness racing allowed; pari-mutuel allowed. Off-track betting on out-of-state races permitted.|
|Dog Racing/Off-Track Betting||Not specified.|
|Casinos Allowed?||Yes; plus online gambling passed in 2013|
|Other Kinds of Gambling-Related Activities Allowed or Banned||Gambling in bowling alleys, craps games, and election wagering banned. Merchandising plans are not gambling.|
Congress Eyes Delaware's Online Gambling
In 2014, members of both parties in Congress supported a ban on online gambling. This came just months after Delaware's system went live and weeks after Delaware officials struck a deal with Nevada to allow online gambling across state lines.
Delaware officials are hoping that revenues from online poker, blackjack and slots will help boost sagging revenue in the state's three brick-and-mortar casinos, where traffic has dipped significantly because of competition from new facilities in surrounding states.
For more information on gambling, in general, read FindLaw’s Details on State Gambling Laws article. You can do additional research by clicking on the links below which lead to websites providing information on Delaware laws, as well as gaming laws. Finally, if you have a more specific question or would like more in-depth information, consider consulting with a Delaware gaming lawyer.
Contact a qualified attorney.