Delaware is rolling the dice with its real-money online gambling scheme today, becoming the first state to launch more than just Internet poker as Nevada did earlier this year.
Only 25 to 75 already registered players at the state’s free-play online gambling sites operated by Delaware’s three ‘racinos’ or racetrack casinos will be invited to play during a week of testing, Delaware Online reported. If the trial run is deemed successful by state officials, a “full suite” online gambling launch is expected to commence on November 8.
“This is another chapter in Delaware’s history of staying competitive in the gaming industry,” said Delaware’s finance secretary, Thomas Cook. “It is something that has to grow but we’re in a fiercely competitive environment here. This is just one more opportunity for entertainment.’’
Delaware gaming officials continue to remain mum on whether all casino games including roulette and blackjack will be available a week from tomorrow. Earlier this week, lottery director Vernon Kirk indicated that the initial soft launch may entail only slots and poker. We will have to wait and see if additional casino games will also make their online debut.
In any event, it is progress and anybody located within Delaware’s borders on Nov. 8 that is of legal age will be able to legally gamble online. Speaking of ages, Delaware officials are hoping their Internet gambling scheme will attract young folk between the ages of 28-35. Studies have shown that that particular demographic is not a prevalent sight on the casino floor. Research indicates that the AARP crowd in their late 50s are more likely to visit casinos.
The First State’s goal with online gambling is to find new customers. State officials are hoping that the typical older casino goers don’t become shut-ins that prefer the online action over the entertainment found at the land-based locales. Should that turn out to be the case, the online gambling launch might cause some regret.
“Then we have taken a step back because it’s taking away business from the bricks and mortar where people are employed,’’ Cook said.
Revenue at Delaware racinos has been falling as of late, as competition from casinos in neighboring states has been cutting into the profits enjoyed in previous years. Just three years ago, Delaware casinos brought in revenue of $241 million to state coffers. This year, without online gambling, that number is expected to be in the ballpark of $175 million.
But state officials are optimistic that today’s soft launch and the enhanced online gambling action set for Nov. 8 is the right decision. They are pleased to be first and ahead of New Jersey’s Internet gambling rollout scheduled for late November. It is believed that a number of other states will also soon be joining the game.
“Its gonna happen no matter what,” said Dover Downs Hotel and Casino chief executive Ed Sutor. “The Internet is part of everyday life. Some people do all their banking and stock transactions online. You are either going to get on the train or be left behind. We are going to get on the train.’’