The first phase of Delaware’s online gambling initiative took place on Wednesday morning when the state’s three casinos opened their Internet portals for free online slots, poker, roulette, and blackjack games.
These free, or play money, games are the first step towards having full-service, real-cash online gambling in Delaware by the end of October 2013. The launch comes one month later than originally forecasted.
“We set forth what I would call an aggressive goal of September,” Tom Cook, Delaware’s Secretary of Finance, said. “I said from the beginning this is something that, when it’s ready, it’s ready.”
Starting at 6am, all three of Delaware’s casinos–Dover Downs, Delaware Park, and Harrington Raceway & Casino–directed visitors from their respective websites to the DoubleDown Casino game platform on Facebook. DoubleDown Casino is owned by IGT, a slot machine company that is one of Delaware’s contractual slots vendors.
Delaware remains ahead of New Jersey in terms of being prepared to offer a full selection of legal online casino games. Nevada, the first state to pass online gambling legislation, has been operating real-money online poker for almost six months.
It’s important to note that the free games offered by the Delaware casinos are available to anyone in the world wanting to play them. Once the real-money transactions start, however, players must be physically within Delaware’s state lines. Delaware’s online gambling pipeline includes two hopeful additions in 2014: mobile access and a compact with Nevada that would allow players from both states to play at the same online tables, increasing player liquidity.
While Delaware’s casinos are the vehicle for the online gambling initiative, whether or not the online gambling endeavor can help them financially recover from the saturated casino market is anyone’s guess. “It hasn’t come up a lot in the discussion, to tell you the truth,” said Ed Sutor, president and CEO of Dover Downs Hotel and Casino in a USA Today article. “We’re not sure how much revenue this is going to produce.”