The back and forth of the NFL lock-out situation is not only affecting the players, the owners, and the fans. It could have an effect on Delaware’s financial bottom line.
Uncertainty surrounding the National Football League lockout and the upcoming season is causing concerns among Delaware casinos, which are the only ones east of the Mississippi River to conduct legal sports wagering. During the 2010 NFL season, $12.8 million was bet on NFL games at Delaware casinos, which won $5.1 million. $2.2 million went into the state’s general fund.
The courts limited Delaware’s original proposal to parlay betting, or wagering on a set of games rather than individual contests. Also, wagering was to be confined to NFL contests only. Gaming halls originally wanted betting to be allowed in other sports, including baseball, college sports and NASCAR. So that means if there’s no NFL then there’s no sports betting.
“We’re glad we have what we have, rather than nothing” says Dover Downs President and CEO Ed Sutor. “The ability to bet on single games would have been much more attractive.”
At the same time, the possibility that sports betting may have to shut down if NFL games are not being played is also causing concern in the industry. Sutor says patrons “not only bet on sports, they bet on races. So, this would have an impact on our horse racing revenue.”
Also, there is a demographic factor: those who bet on sports are usually male, and men are also predominately the ones who play the table games at Delaware casinos.
Women who visit Delaware casinos tend to favor the slots, according to studies.
“Losing the NFL games and losing those sports bettors is not going to help the other businesses in this building, especially the table game area,” Sutor says.