With less than one million residents, nobody expected Delaware’s intrastate online gambling regime to be gangbusters from the get-go. But pulling in only $253,000 in revenue for November and December combined is far lower than state officials had projected.
Only about 4,000 players have signed up to gamble online in The First State. If more players don’t find their way to log on at the Internet gaming sites operated by Dover Downs, Harrington Raceway and Delaware Park, the first year of operation will bring in only about $1.7 million.
State officials had estimated $5 million in revenue in year one, a goal that may be hard to achieve. The first $3.75 million goes directly to the state, with the racinos beginning to get a cut after that total is reached.
“When you are doing online gaming in a state like Delaware, there is just not enough population to bring in much revenue,” Jay Masurekar told Delaware Online. “Unless you have bigger states involved, it’s not going to work,” the KeyBanc Capital Markets investment banker added.
Those bigger states are Nevada and New Jersey. Discussions regarding partnership agreements to boost online poker player liquidity have been broached among the three states, but the talks have been of a preliminary nature.
Delaware remains plagued with geolocation issues that have kept some state residents who live near the border from gaining access to the sites. Depositing via credit cards has also been a problem, with Lottery Director Vernon Kirk indicating that 30% of Mastercard users and 70% of Visa card holders are being rejected by credit card companies who continue to question the legality of processing payments for Internet gambling sites.
State officials still consider Delaware’s online gambling regime to be going through growing pains and believe that action will pick up as time moves on. Increased promotion and marketing efforts, as well as the addition of new online casino games, are on tap in order to attract more players.
“It might be two, three years from now, we might say this [online gambling] is a nice little business in Delaware,” said Frank Fantini of Fantini Research, a Delaware gaming publication. “But right now, it’s pretty slow.”