Less than 24 hours after the Delaware State Senate approved a proposal to legalize online poker and gambling, Gov. Jack Markell signed the bill into law, allowing Delaware to join Nevada as the only states who have regulated Internet poker.
Following a 14-6 Senate vote that narrowly eclipsed the 13 votes needed, the Delaware Gaming Competitiveness Act of 2012 now makes the country’s First State the second state to legally offer online poker within state borders. The proposal was initially in jeopardy of passing just a few days ago when an unofficial vote tally had senators in attendance approving the measure by a count of 12-6 with two abstentions, which was just short of the required three-fifths majority needed. However, the bill’s proponents were aware that one senator known to be prepared to vote “aye” was not present, so the vote was delayed one day to assure of the bill’s passing. Upon taking the official vote, one of the previous abstentions also voted in favor, allowing HB 333 to proceed to Gov. Markell’s desk.
Delaware’s revenue from land-based casinos has taken a hit recently due to gambling expansion in neighboring states of Pennsylvania and Maryland, which has siphoned the number of gamblers who previously wagered in Delaware. For this reason, Delaware legislators were intent on passing regulations that would regain the missing revenue. In addition to online poker and other casino games, the bill calls for land-based gambling expansion in the form of NFL wagering in over 20 non-casino locations, as well as keno to be offered at more than 100 brick and mortar sites.
The state’s three racinos have expressed desires to launch their own Internet gambling sites. However, those regulations still need to be drafted and online sites are not expected to be up and running until early 2013.
Delaware is one of the smallest states with roughly 900,000 residents. With only 20,000 or so expected to be online poker players, rumors have circulated that West Virginia and Rhode Island may be interested in an interstate partnership agreement to increase the player pool. Check our latest Delaware poker legislation news here.