Delaware Poker

Despite its miniscule size and population, Delaware has been at the forefront of many landmark events in United States history. In 1787, Delaware was the First State to ratify the Constitution. Forty-three years later, the first scheduled steam railroad would depart from New Castle.

And finally, in 2012 Delaware became the first state to legalize online casinos, and the second behind Nevada to authorize Internet poker.

Who would have expected that out of New Jersey, Nevada, California, Illinois and Florida – all of which boast thriving live gambling industries – it would be little Delaware, and its paltry population of 917,000, that would usher in a new age in regulated online gaming?

But as we’ll soon see, just because a state pioneers a new industry, doesn’t mean it’s bound for success.

Can Players from Delaware Play Real-Money Online Poker?

100% yes. Delaware was the second state to launch a regulated iGaming industry, and the first to feature online casinos. As of today, the state features three online gaming platforms, with each one tied to a Delaware based brick and mortar racino. They are as follows:

Delaware Park currently maintains the online poker market share lead at 62 percent, followed by Dover Downs and Harrington a distant third [1]. However, this distribution becomes less significant when one considers that the three sites share player liquidity.

Delaware’s iGaming sites are hosted from the website’s of each of the state’s three racinos. The online gaming platform is provided by 888 Holdings, which also provides the poker platform for in New Jersey and Nevada, among others.

Those hoping to play online must be physically located in the state of Delaware, and able to verify their location via geo-location services. In addition, registrants must provide a valid social security number in order to wager real-money online. Players currently residing outside the United States have even more poker playing options. Just head over to our list of real-money online poker rooms, and choose the one best suited for you.

Is Online Poker Legal in Delaware?

Regulated Internet gambling, in the forms of poker, slots and table games is perfectly legal in the state of Delaware. The First State also offers an array of live gambling options, including limited forms of sports betting.

In order to protect its live gambling interests, Delaware has taken an exceedingly aggressive stance against illicit gambling operations, illustrated by the law’s broad definition of advancing gambling in the first degree:

A person is guilty of advancing gambling in the first degree when: (1) The person keeps, exhibits or uses, or is concerned in interest in keeping, exhibiting or using any book, device, apparatus or paraphernalia for the purpose of receiving, recording or registering bets or wagers upon the result of any trial or contest, wherever conducted, or skill, speed or power of endurance of human or beast. Section 1403(1)

Further sections of the law render it illegal for persons to knowingly permit unregulated facilities to be used for illicit gambling activity, or to support such premises.

Possession of a gambling device, defined below, is also considered an actionable offense:

Gambling device means any device, machine, paraphernalia or equipment which is used or useable in the playing phases of any gambling activity, whether the activity consists of gambling between persons or gambling by a person involving the playing of a machine. Section 1432(d)

All of the aforementioned offenses carry a potential class A misdemeanor charge.

Do note that the Delaware Constitution allows special exceptions for the state lottery, limited forms of charitable gambling and real-money wagers placed at one of the state’s licensed horse racing facilities.

Also significant is that The Delaware Gaming Competitiveness Act of 2012, [2] otherwise known as the bill that permitted regulated online gambling, does not criminalize the act of playing on an unsanctioned site.

However, given that the state’s gambling statutes specially prohibit the use of gambling equipment and do not distinguish between games of skill and chance, it’s quite conceivable that such acts would be deemed prosecutable – although it’s certainly not a guarantee.

In either case, it’s advisable to speak with a legal professional versed in gambling law before taking a chance on an offshore gambling site.

To view the full breadth of Delaware’s state code, please visit the “References” section [3].

Legislation Timeline

  • May 2012: House Bill 333 is approved by the House Gaming and Pari-mutuels Committee. The bill calls for the legalization and regulation of online poker, sports betting and casino-style gambling.
  • June 27, 2012: Governor Jack Markell signs the Delaware Gaming Competitiveness Act of 2012 into law, marking the first time in U.S. history that an individual state has legalized online casinos. [4]
  • July 2013: Delaware releases a draft of its proposed iGaming regulations. [5] The Delaware Lottery is given full operational control over the new industry.
  • November 7, 2013: After a successful one-week soft launch period, Delaware’s three casinos open Internet gambling to the public via their websites.
  • Late-February 2014: Delaware and Nevada enter into an interstate compact to share poker player liquidity across borders.

Delaware Gambling History

Despite its generally conservative populace, illicit horseraces were held in Delaware as early as 1760. Throughout the 19th and early-20th century, all forms of gambling would remain illegal in the First State, but the Great Depression, and the severe economic downturn that came with it, would force government’s hand.

In 1935, regulated pari-mutuel betting was legalized, followed two years later by the opening of Delaware Park. [6] By the late-1950s the overwhelmingly popular facility was expanded to include twice the seating and a new clubhouse. At around the same time, bingo was deemed legal.

By 1975, a statewide lottery would be established. Since, more than $4.1 billion in lottery revenue has been transferred to the General Fund. At $235 million in revenue in fiscal 2013, the lottery is Delaware’s fourth largest revenue stream.

Eventually, Delaware’s three horseracing venues would be converted into racinos. Casino style table games and live poker would then be legalized in 2010.

Delaware is also one of four states that can legally offer sports betting, however the only form currently available are parlays.

Regulated Gambling Options in Delaware

Offering one of the most robust gambling menus of any state in the nation, regulated forms of gambling in Delaware include commercial casinos, charitable gaming (bingo only), pari-mutuel wagering, the state lottery and sports betting.

The only form not permitted is tribal gaming, although this has more to do with the complete absence of federally recognized tribes in Delaware more than anything.

Other Recent Headlines

Although not much was expected from Delaware’s online poker industry – that is, at least not until it joined forces with other states – the nascent market has underperformed even the most reserved expectations.

In May 2014, revenue generated from online poker was a paltry $57,470 – a mere fraction of that of neighboring New Jersey’s iPoker industry. On a more positive note, that same month the amount of money wagered on table games reached a record high of $9.026 million.

The Future of Regulated Online Gambling in Delaware

Given its population of just over 900,000, Delaware is having an exceedingly difficult time maintaining any sort of viable online poker business. Revenues are poor, turnouts are even poorer and the prospect for intrastate growth is nearly non-existent.

However, via its compact with Nevada, Delaware’s iGaming industry should see at least a nominal boost in activity. Should New Jersey enter the mix the market gains may become significant.

Until then, interest will likely remain low. But at least for the foreseeable future, online gambling in Delaware is here to stay.


  1. Jump up ^ May Delaware Online Poker Revenues Show Continued Decline
  2. Jump up ^ House Bill No. 333
  3. Jump up ^ Delaware Code Online
  4. Jump up ^ Delaware to allow online gambling
  5. Jump up ^ Delaware Releases Online Gambling Regulations Proposal
  6. Jump up ^ Casino at Delaware Park