Different states have different ways to handle legal betting on sports. Delaware, which became the first state to ratify the U.S. Constitution in 1787, became the first state to OK sports betting after the Supreme Court's decision in May. Delaware's sports books — places where the betting takes place — opened in early June 2018 in the state's three casinos and have been taking bets on all sorts of sports, in all sorts of ways, ever since. The Delaware Lottery regulates the betting.
You have to be 21 to bet on sports legally in Delaware, which takes wagers on all the major sports (football, basketball, hockey, baseball) in addition to golf, tennis, auto racing, boxing, MMA and others.
New Jersey opened its sports books shortly after Delaware's and, according to the AGA's Slane, has pulled in around $1.5 billion in wagers on various sports. "That's a massive number," Slane says. "The mobile platform didn't even get up and running. And they're still not at their full capacity yet. So I do expect that those numbers will continue to increase."
(Some states offer mobile wagering, where you can place a sports bet through a smartphone app. The app uses location services to make sure you're within state lines.)
Though lots of money is being wagered legally, and much more could be coming, the casinos that are taking the bets, and the states themselves, don't necessarily see a ton of it.
"The Mid-Atlantic is a pretty saturated area to begin with," John Hensley, the general manager and senior director of horse racing and sports at Dover Downs Hotel & Casino, says. "As this rolls out state to state, there will obviously be some cannibalism everywhere. But you won't know that until it happens."
The competition already is fierce, and sports betting is a relatively low-margin product for casinos (or "racinos," as those with horse racing and other forms of racing often are called) anyway. Winners have to be paid, after all, along with the tax collectors. Overhead has to be figured in. This is not a get-rich scheme for those taking the bets.
"We don't look at this as a revenue-driver," Hensley says. "We look at it as a tool, an extra amenity."
The way Hensley and other operators see sports betting at brick-and-mortar casinos, it's an add-on; while you're there, after placing a bet on your favorite NFL team, you may want to take in a show, hit the slot machines, play a few hands of poker and eat at a fancy restaurant.