Delaware sports betting handle decreased in March

  • Delaware registered a $3.1 million (45%) decrease in sports betting handle, while revenues increased by $400,000 (257%).
  • The $3.9 million in total handle was the lowest monthly total in Delaware’s 21-month history of legal sports betting.
  • With no mobile sports betting, Delaware won’t see a dime of sports betting revenue until the COVID-19 pandemic is dealt with and casinos can reopen.
  • The sports betting industry was already struggling in Delaware, and the total loss of revenue caused by COVID-19 could be a death blow to one or more of the state’s three sportsbooks.

DOVER, Del.Delaware’s monthly sports betting handle decreased by over $3.1 million in March, even as its overall revenues increased by about $400,000. Delaware’s March betting handle represented a 45% decrease from February, while revenue represented a 257% increase.

Delaware’s totaled just $3.9 million in sports betting handle for the month of March—the lowest monthly betting handle in the state’s history. Delaware’s casino sportsbooks were shut down on March 16 to combat COVID-19, and the sports world was largely shut down by March 12.

The fact that the decrease in handle is easily explainable does not make it any less of a blow to the state’s economy.

The revenue increase was a positive development, it should be taken with a grain of salt. Sports betting revenue tends to fluctuate heavily from month to month, especially in a small state like Delaware. Handle, on the other hand, tends to follow consistent monthly trends.

Like many neighboring states, Delaware’s February sports betting revenues were deflated by the Super Bowl. The $159,800 in revenue that Delaware totaled in February was only 13% of its all-time monthly average.

Delaware earned $571,000 in March revenue—a solid increase, but still only 47% of its monthly average. March is typically one of the most lucrative months of the year for sportsbooks, but 2020 saw the first-ever cancellation of March Madness, which is normally a guaranteed windfall for sportsbooks.

Extrapolating those totals over a full 31-day month, Delaware was on pace to handle $10 million in wagers and collect $1.5 million in revenue in March.

Financial Outlook For Delaware Sports Betting

Delaware does not offer mobile sports betting like other states in its vicinity. Gov. John Carney ordered casinos to close on March 16. The state’s three sportsbooks will not bring in any revenue until casinos reopen.

Delaware’s sports betting financial future already looked rocky. Total betting handle had been slowly declining since hitting a peak during the 2019 football season, and even the 2020 NFL season brought only small relief.

The exorbitant taxes and lack of mobile sports betting were severely hindering the industry in Delaware, and COVID-19 could be the haymaker that either closes sportsbooks for good or forces much needed legislative change.

Like other states, Delaware will have to rely on February and March revenue for the foreseeable future, as COVID-19 could prohibit large gatherings for many months.

With huge licensing fees, a 50% state tax on sports betting revenue, and an extremely limited audience, running a sportsbook in Delaware has always been a risky investment.

The returns on that investment were beginning to diminish even before COVID-19, and now it is possible that one or more of Delaware’s three sportsbooks could be forced to liquidate.

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