Despite the excitement around the expansion of sports betting in the United States, Delaware became the first state to show falling revenue numbers compared from one year to the next as the state’s 2019 monthly handle figures did not match the 2018 totals.
One of the big reasons that Delaware has seen a drop in the total handle is contributed to the overall lack of online options. As New Jersey and Pennsylvania continue to flourish after making the jump to mobile betting, Delaware’s lack of online offerings has stifled growth.
The drop in revenue in Delaware can be directly drawn to the offering of online betting in neighboring Pennsylvania, where the state brought in a record handle of $316.2 million in bets in November of 2019.
With Washington D.C., Virginia and Maryland on the verge of legalizing sports betting, Delaware can expect an even larger chunk of revenue to be drawn from their market as online bettors across state lines to make bets.
In an op-ed on Gambling.com, Ryan Butler wrote, “…Delaware remains the cautionary tale for states nationwide that an exclusively brick-and-mortar markets will fall short of its revenue potential — and may even decrease as betting options around it become more readily available.”
But not all was lost in 2019 as the three Delaware operators posted moderate numbers that showed slight growth from 2018.
Delaware did post $12.5 million in total revenue through its first complete year of offering on-site betting. Customers wagered $102.6 million on 2.55 million bets, winning back $79.6 million on those wagers.
The big winner for the state from 2018 to 2019 was Delaware Park. The casino raised revenue over 25% from year to year with betting handle increasing 5.4%. Delaware Park posted a revenue total of $7.8 million on $64.1 million in total wagers for 2019.
Next on the list was Dover Downs casino with $2.6 million in revenue, a 52.6% raise from the $1.7 million they made last year. Player betting also increased dramatically to $15.9 million, a 31.5% year-to-year increase.
Finally, Harrington Raceway, the last of the three operators, ranked third in revenue with $2.2 million, a raise of $1.2 million from the $1 million they made in 2018. Player handle went from $10.2 million in 2018 to $17.6 million in 2019.
Although year to year numbers were up for the three operators, the final four months of the year showed that handle was depressed during the football season, an odd anomaly that is leaving many in the industry wondering why bettors stayed away from windows.
In September, the handle dropped $4.2 million from $14.4 million in 2018 to $10.2 million. The following month, the drop in handle was even more dramatic, falling from $16.5 million to $10.8 million.
In November, handle was flat at $10.3 million, a drop of $6.6 million from the previous year. And in the final month of the year, Delaware saw a raise in handle to $13.3 million but that was $2.8 million lower than December of last year.
The Delaware figures underline a trend that other states are seeing where the lack of mobile betting is stifling growth as bettors stay home rather than make the journey to the casino to lay a wager on their favorite team.
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