Delaware Legal Poker Laws

Delaware Legal Poker Sites Online
Legal Gambling in Delaware and Poker Laws

While small in size, Delaware has played a large role in the development of modern online poker.  We're going to further explore that role as we survey the status quo for gambling in Delaware, touching upon legal issues facing online poker, the top sites for Delaware players and the future for online poker and gambling in Delaware.

Update as of 2016

This section is an updated version of the original article. While the the information on this page is correct, some new legislation might be in effect since thie page was originally written. We've left the orginal article in tact below the new information.

Delaware Online Poker

On February 25, 2014, Gov. Brian Sandoval of Nevada and Gov. Jack Markell of Delaware signed an interstate poker compact. The two states would share player liquidity between them. This allows Delaware and Nevada to build a larger online poker community, which means more virtual poker tables can be filled at the same time. It also means tournaments can have larger prize pools. More gaming options and larger prize pools lead to more player interest; so greater player liquidity is the best way to develop a larger customer base.

At the time, Gov. Sandoval and Gov. Markell hoped (perhaps assumed) that more U.S. states would legalize and regulate online gambling. The language of the interstate poker compact stated that any US state which legalizes iPoker and wishes to uphold the standards set forth in the Sandoval-Markell compact would be able to sign on to the iPoker compact. Thus, the compact was designed to attract interest from a growing network of US states, including New Jersey. That has not materialized, even in the case of New Jersey, which led Gov. Sandoval to express his shock in recent weeks.

The interstate poker compact is likely to happen, but only when more small states legalize online poker. Those states are going to need increased player liquidity, so they will sign on to the Delaware-Nevada compact. When that happens, bigger states like New Jersey will join. Pennsylvania and California are each considering new online gambling laws, so their inclusion would cause others to join, as well.

On March 24, 2015, Delaware and Nevada launched their program of shared online poker gaming. The shared player liquidity instantly showed increased player pools. Though the bump in interest was minor, it was touted by officials from both states and from 888 Holdings as a step forward. Perhaps one day, the interstate poker compact will become like the multi-state lottery associations, Powerball and Mega Millions. It took those associations decades to build into their current size, so it is not a pipe dream.

Delaware Online Casinos

Dover Downs Online, Harrington Racecourse Online, and Delaware Park Online all use 888casino and 888poker software. 888 Holdings is one of the finest online gambling companies in the world, as it's trusted and has invested lots of money in developing games. I would prefer to have seen Dover Downs, Harrington, and Delaware Park to have offered different online casino games from each other.

One can see why they three racetracks chose the same software package. Each seems more interested in building up its online poker customer base, so Delaware and Nevada can build on its interstate poker compact. It makes sense to have the same software, for compatibility and customer usability. The problem is, 888's designers designed the exact same online casino pages for all three sites, right down to the FAQ and the games selection.

That being said, online gamblers in Delaware have their option of a downloadable online casino software client, instant play casino games, and mobile casino gaming. The mobile gaming appears to support iPad and iPhone, but not Android smartphones and tablet computers. It is possible Android gaming apps were included later, but not advertised. If not, I recommend a mobile casino app for Android as the next update for all three.

Delaware Sports Lottery

The Delaware Sports Lottery continues to operate legally, under terms of the 1992 PASPA law. Wagering on the sports lottery is available throughout the year at Delaware Park, Dover Downs, and Harrington Raceway, as well as 80 off-track betting retailers throughout the state. The NFL season is the major period of activity for the Delaware Sports Lottery, generating in its 4+ months of games about half the sports lottery revenues each year.

Online Poker in Delaware

Can you sign up for online poker sites from Delaware?  Are real-money online poker games available at legal and regulated sites?  How does the law address online poker in Delaware?  Those are just a few of the questions we hear from online poker players from the state, and we'll tackle each - plus a few more - in this section of our guide to Delaware gambling.

Delaware's Best Legal Online Poker Rooms

Based on our research, here are the legal poker sites, all properly licensed in their region, offering the best mix of value, weak competition and integrity to online poker players in the state of Delaware:

Do Online Poker Rooms Take Players From Delaware?

Playing at legally regulated sites is easy if you're in Delaware.  The story is different for players in places like Washington, where the legal status of poker has caused most rooms to stop accepting players from the state, but for Delaware poker players no such restrictions exist. We have listed the top poker sites accepting players from Delaware here.

Is it Legal to Play Online Poker Legal in Delaware?

Online poker is a notoriously tricky area of the law, thanks to outdated state codes that don't interact directly with new technologies.  Let's review the state law of Delaware regarding gambling for elements that could potentially apply to online gambling and online poker:

  1. The constitution of Delaware prohibits all gambling except for the state lottery, certain offerings at racetracks and a limited list of charitable gambling.
  2. Delaware doesn't have a definition of "gambling" in their state law.  Given that lack, their definition of "gambling device" is instructive for those wondering what is and isn't allowed under Delaware law: "any device, machine, paraphernalia or equipment which is used or usable 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 1432c).
  3. Delaware law makes it a crime to own a gambling device (class A misdemeanor, Section 1405).  It's not clear whether this definition could extend to a laptop used to play online poker.
  4. The bill that legalized regulated online gambling in Delaware apparently does not specifically criminalize playing at unlicensed sites.

You can review and search the full text of Delaware state law here [1].  If you're interested in learning more about Delaware's law regulating online gambling, you can access the legislative record and contents of the bill here [2].  As always, please do not consider this research material as a substitute for legal advice.  We urge you to contact a lawyer for advice concerning specific actions regarding gambling online.

When Will Delaware Offer Regulated Online Poker?

It's difficult to pin down a specific date simply because there are so many moving parts.  For one, many believe that Delaware doesn't have the necessary population to support an online poker room - at least not a very active one.  That means Delaware might need to strike deals with other states to share players, a process that could take several years to iron out and implement.

Another variable is the ongoing federal push to regulate online poker.  If federal law collides with the existing Delaware law regarding online poker and online gambling, players could be looking at a lengthy legal and political battle before regulated online poker makes its way to Delaware.

Facts About Gambling in Delaware

History of Gambling in Delaware

The first type of recorded gambling in the first state took place in horse races all the way back in the 1700s.  In fact, the first race track in Delaware was built in 1760.  Betting wasn't legal, but remained widespread regardless. 

Residents would have to wait another 300 years or so before additional forms of regulated gambling were on the table; while pari-mutuel betting got the nod from lawmakers in the 1930s, lottery didn't make its debut until 1975 and casino-style games weren't present at the state's racetracks until 2010. 

Regulated Gambling Options in Delaware

It may be a small state, but there is a ton of regulated gambling packed into that space.  There's a state lottery and legal betting on horse races, but the explosive growth in Delaware gambling has come at the state's "racinos" (race tracks that offer casino gambling) where you can play poker, table games and video lottery terminals.  Delaware also offers one option you won't find in many other states: sports betting (parlay only) at state racetracks.

Does Delaware Offer any Regulated Online Gambling?

While Delaware did make national news as one of the first states to pass a law legalizing some online gambling, the state has yet to roll out any regulated games.  Until the necessary systems are in place and commercial operators (and the state lottery) get the go-ahead from regulators, players in Delaware will continue to face a lack of state-backed online gambling choices.

Recent Delaware Gambling Headlines

Delaware recently announced that they would be delaying their launch [3] of state-regulated online gambling and poker.  There is no firm date now set for launch, but many analysts expect a potential date to become clearer as the issue is resolved (or abandoned) at the federal level.

Delaware Gambling Information

It can be difficult to find quality, credible information regarding poker and gambling in Delaware.  For those seeking objective, verified information on the topic, here are three resources that should dramatically improve your understanding of Delaware's gambling industry and the law that surrounds it.

104 Regulations Governing Texas Hold'em Poker [4].  As the name suggests, this is a document (from the state) that covers just about every aspect you can imagine of running a Texas Hold'em game legally in the state of Delaware.  A good read for the curious or those planning to operate a game.

UNLV Center for Gaming Research - Delaware Report [5].  An excellent overview of the current gambling industry in the state of Delaware, including financials and brief historical timeline of gambling expansion.

The Costs and Consequences of Gambling In the State of Delaware [6].  A report from the state government that takes an even handed look at the benefits and drawbacks brought about by regulated gambling in Delaware.

Notables: Poker and Delaware

While Delaware will never be confused for Texas or California when it comes to poker prominence, the state does have a few poker-related claims to fame.  One that will likely be well-known already to online poker players is that Jennifer "Jennicide" Leigh, a famous name from the early days of Internet poker, was born in and resides in Delaware.  Delaware claimed a more recent place in poker history in the summer of 2012, when a tournament at the Delaware Park poker room ran for 36+ hours straight [7] - a feat substantial enough to make the Guinness record book.

Sources & Citations For This Article on Delaware Online Poker