First State wins big with sports betting during NFL season

Craig Anderson
Posted 2/6/21

Patrons place their wagers in the sports betting room at Dover Downs on Friday. Delaware State News/Marc Clery DOVER — Are you ready for some football, Delaware? If the Chiefs hoist the Vince …

You must be a member to read this story.

Join our family of readers for as little as $5 per month and support local, unbiased journalism.

Already a member? Log in to continue.   Otherwise, follow the link below to join.

Please log in to continue

Log in

First State wins big with sports betting during NFL season


DOVER — Are you ready for some football, Delaware?

If the Chiefs hoist the Vince Lombardi Trophy again tonight, that’s good news for the First State’s coffers.

The state of Delaware gains $104,000 for its General Fund with a Kansas City Super Bowl LV win and loses $15,100 with a Tampa Bay upset.

That’s based on futures bets — wagering on a team to win the Super Bowl at ever-changing odds throughout the year.

In the futures wagering, favorite Kansas City’s odds began at 4-1 in September and dropped to 9-5 in December, meaning there was less risk to the state if bettors cashed in.

The Buccaneers were a longer shot to win (12-1 at the season’s opening kickoff and throughout the year), meaning the payoff would be higher for bettors.

Whether Tampa’s Tom Brady is a champion again or the Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes repeats as No. 1, the First State will add millions of dollars to its coffers overall.

Heading into the final week, the Delaware Sports Lottery held on to $22.4 million of $61.1 million wagered on NFL and NCAA games.

The ultimate overall outcome wasn’t certain, due to ongoing bets right up to the big game today.

Kickoff is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.

The state figures to make out pretty well this year on professional and college sports bets placed at Delaware’s three casinos and at retailers throughout the state.

After paying off the state’s three casino sportsbooks in Dover, Harrington and Wilmington, along with vendors and retailers, the Delaware Sports Lottery will deposit the remaining profits into the General Fund, state Lottery Director Vernon Kirk said. That amounted to $9 million as the Super Bowl approached, with several days of wagering remaining.

Mr. Kirk called the football numbers “outstanding” and attributed much of the state’s success to the uncertainty that COVID-19 brought to the season.

Gauging team’s potential performances was perhaps more challenging due to uncertain player availability and scheduling upheavals that marked many games played in the 2020-21 season, according to Mr. Kirk.

“We were very lucky in that regard,” he said.

Delawareans’ ongoing preference to parlay cards continued to pay off, as well, Mr. Kirk said. Where single-game bets require just one team to come through, the only way to win a parlay is to correctly pick at least three outcomes, albeit at higher payoffs if successful.

Since their inception in 2009, the state has always marketed parlay cards as a more recreational experience, Mr. Kirk said, “and people got used to it.

“It was promoted more of a fun, casual venture to have fun with, not something that’s seen as making an investment (in an attempt to make serious money).”

The final parlay card to this season includes propositions such as:

  • Coin toss heads or tails.
  • • Team with the shortest made field goal in the game.
  •  First team to commit an accepted penalty
  • Team with last possession of the game
  • Passing yards by Mr. Mahomes, even or odd number.
  • Passing yards by Mr. Brady, even or odd number.
  • Total points by Chiefs, even or odd number.
  • Total points by Buccaneers, even or odd number.

Going 3-for-3 on selections would earn $6.50 for every dollar bet. Payoffs increase from there, topped by 10-for-10 earning $800 per dollar. Minimum wagers are $2.

At Cheswold News & Tobacco, a steady stream of would-be bettors entered the doors last week for the final parlay card of the gridiron season.

“They’re taking cards, and I’m sure they’re going to make some interesting bets,” owner Dave Hollen said. “If it’s football season, (then) people are going to come in and play. We’re probably up in parlays compared to last year.

“It may have been a bit slower to start the season due to coronavirus, but once people got used to the hours, the distancing, the masks, it was pretty much the same it’s always been.”

At Mike’s Food Market in Milford, however, owner Mike Patel wasn’t feeling so fortunate.

“The parlays have been down during the coronavirus. Maybe people don’t have a lot of money,” he said. “(It’s not as exciting), but there’s nothing we can do about it.”

There are still single bets available today at Dover Downs Hotel & Casino, Harrington Casino & Raceway and Delaware Park sportsbooks, starting with the spread that listed the Chiefs as a three-point favorite.

Patrons place their wagers at Dover Downs on Friday.

Money to Delaware

The First State’s General Fund has received approximately $13 million from all sports wagering (football, baseball, basketball, etc.) from July 1, 2020, to Jan. 31, 2021.

Pro football futures wagering dropped from approximately $327,000 out of $67.7 million overall last year to $217,600 out of $66.1 million this year, Mr. Kirk said.

College football wagering also dropped, due to games canceled by the COVID-19 pandemic, Mr. Kirk said, but the NFL was less affected due to being able to play all scheduled games, even if delayed.

The 2020 numbers through the start of last week included:

  • College football (straight bets) — $7.9 million.
  • Professional football (straight bets) — $22.3 million.
  • College and professional football (parlay bets) — $35.9 million.

The overall 2019 numbers included:

  • College football (straight bets) — $10.6 million.
  • Professional football (straight bets) — $22 million.
  • College and professional football (parlay bets) — $35.1 million.

The sportsbooks receive 40% of money not returned to bettors, while the state’s General Fund receives 50% (less administrative expenses). The other 10% goes to supplement purses through the Delaware Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association and the Delaware Standardbred Owners Association.

Retailers receive a commission of 5% of parlay sales, while money also goes to winning players and vendors. Delaware takes 90% of the handle (minus administrative costs) for the General Fund, while 10% goes to supplement purses offered at DTHA and DSOA tracks.

Across the country

According to American Gaming Association research, 23.2 million Americans nationally plan to bet a total of $4.3 billion on this year’s Super Bowl. There’s been a huge uptick in online sportsbook wagering, where the AGA said a record 7.6 million persons will take part, a 63% increase from the year before.

“This year’s Super Bowl is expected to generate the largest single-event legal handle in American sports-betting history,” said AGA President and CEO Bill Miller. “With a robust legal market, Americans are abandoning illegal bookies and taking their action into the regulated marketplace in record numbers.”

Colorado, Illinois, Michigan, Montana, Tennessee, Virginia and Washington, D.C., have added legal sports-betting opportunities since last year’s Super Bowl. That means another 36 million adults can place wagers in their home state, the AGA said.

According to the AGA, key findings from its research (conducted by Morning Consult) indicate shifting betting patterns during the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • 1.4 million Americans plan to bet in person at a sportsbook, down 61% from 2020.
  •  1.8 million bettors plan to place a bet with a bookie, down 21%.
  • 4.5 million Americans plan to place a pool, squares or similar bet, down 19%.
  • 11.9 million Americans plan to bet casually with friends, down 18%.
  • 56% of bettors plan to bet on the Chiefs, while 44% plan to bet on the Buccaneers.
featured, dover-downs
Members and subscribers make this story possible.
You can help support non-partisan, community journalism.