Get Your Bet On?

by Ed Meyer

posted on February 3, 2009 in General Discussion | No Comments >>

A procession of buses likely will run up and down Interstate 95 at this time next year, filled with football fans traveling to the East Coast’s new mecca for viewing pleasure – Delaware.

Yes, the First State will be the state fans flock to come Super Bowl Sunday 2010.

Why? Because they can watch the game in sports books – and bet.

After years of flirting with the notion, Delaware is on the verge of legalizing a fairly wide-open form of sports betting. And it could come in time for next year’s Super Bowl, say its supporters in the state Legislature.

“I wouldn’t bet the house on it,” said Democratic Rep. John Viola, a member of the gaming committee. “But I would be willing to take a wager on it.”

It’s inevitable that sports betting eventually will be legalized someplace other than Nevada. Government sanctioning of gambling as a revenue producer started in the 1970s with legalized lotteries and expanded when Atlantic City adopted casino gambling.

It’s grown in phases during the past 20 years, from Native American tribes who set up casinos on tribal lands to riverboat gambling and slot machines.

Politicians have come to love gambling and governments to rely on it: Taxes they must take from you, but gamblers eagerly give them their money.

Delaware found gold in slot machines nearly 15 years ago. But surrounding states such as Pennsylvania and, most recently, Maryland also have approved slots, leaving little other than tax-free shopping to attract bettors to Delaware.

So with each passing year, the gambling ante has been raised, and now the game is legalized sports betting. The slots vote in Maryland likely will be the catalyst that pushes Delaware into sports betting.