The bill calls for the state lottery director to develop rules for a lottery allowing people 21 and older to wager on athletic events, except collegiate or amateur events involving a Delaware team. Sports betting would be allowed only at the state's three existing slot machine casinos, which have a state-granted monopoly on gambling in Delaware and have pushed for sports betting for years. They nevertheless lobbied heavily against Markell's proposal because it calls for the state to take a larger share of casino revenue.
In response, Markell quickly backed off his initial proposal, which would have authorized up to three more slot-machine and sports betting casinos, and sports betting at up to 10 non-casino venues, such as sports bars.
In the compromise struck last week, the administration agreed to reduce the increased percentage of casino revenue going to the state, set the annual licensing fee to be paid by the three casinos for sports betting at $4 million instead of $4.5 million, and to work with the casinos on introducing table games as soon as possible.
Even with the changes, Markell has said the legislation should bring in at least $52 million in the fiscal year starting July 1, close to the $55 million expected from the previous proposal.
"I think it's going to be an unbelievable cash cow," said Sen. Colin Bonini, R-Dover. "We're the only ones on the East Coast, and there's a huge underground economy that no one's been able to measure