The tiny state of Delaware is not to be taken lightly when it comes to online gambling. The state that is best known for its tax-friendly corporate setups is also one that wants to make a splash in the online poker, casino and sports betting worlds. How did they go about being the first state to legalize online poker in the United States? This page will give you everything you need to know about how Delaware made its mark, where you can play and why you should choose one site over another.
A brief history of legal online poker in the state
Since the massive rise of online poker’s popularity in the U.S. through the early 2000s, the federal government has been looking for ways to control the industry, or more importantly, how to profit from it. In 2006 and again in 2011, measures were taken to shut the grey-market offshore poker industry across the country, and it appeared that after Black Friday (when the remaining major sites were shut down in 2011), the time had come to try to find a legal solution to offering online poker sites.
As the regulation of gambling is a state-driven initiative, some states were vocal in their desire to create a legal, competitive online gambling landscape. The most vocal of these states were New Jersey, as they hoped to find a way to save the ailing land-based casino industry. However, the tiny state of Delaware also had eyes to legalizing online gambling. With a population of approximately 1 million and a much smaller state legislature, getting bills passed was not nearly as difficult as in larger states. That’s why, even though all signs pointed to New Jersey being the first state to pass such legislation, Delaware snuck in ahead of them in the fall of 2012. This made Delaware the first state to legalize online gambling of any kind (a fact they are only too willing to tell the world).
The bill that passed in Delaware saw the state lottery as the administrative body. While each of the three land-based casinos was granted a license for online poker, the Lottery already had a deal in place with 888 for their platform, which meant that the three land-based facilities would have skins on the same network.
Sensing that the player base in Delaware would never be large enough to provide the liquidity needed to keep games going 24 hours a day, the state entered an agreement with both New Jersey and Nevada that would see all the players from those states pooled together where possible. This was advantageous to all three states but clearly meant the most to Delaware.
Where you can play poker in Delaware
As mentioned, there are only three licensed online poker sites available to players in Delaware. These three sites are offered by the following land-based gaming establishments:
- Delaware Park
- Dover Downs
- Harrington Raceway
Each of the operators has only been given on digital license, which means that for the time being, all other potential operators are shut out of the market. With the expansion of the compact with other states may come the opportunity for additional digital licenses to be approved, but at this time, that is purely speculative.
How to choose the best online poker site
With only three choices for poker players, it is far easier to make a decision about where you want to play. However, in case the state decided to open its doors to other licensed online poker sites, here is a short overview of the things you should be looking for at a site before creating an account.
Right now, this is not an issue for players in Delaware. The three online poker sites that are available in the state are part of the same network, so whatever site you decide to join will be pooling players with the others. Thankfully, the deal with Nevada and New Jersey gives players in Delaware a much larger pool to play with, and it is expected that this deal will be expanded to include other states as they pass legislation
While all three sites are playing on the same network, the way each operator tries to convince players to join their site over another is with their promotional calendar. The types of rewards that will work for you is dependent on the kind of player you are. Cash game players are more likely to look for deposit bonuses as they can be converted into cash much quicker at the cash tables, while tournament players are looking for value by way of overlays (guaranteed events that do not meet their guarantee) and freerolls where the quality of play is typically lower.
With three land-based casinos managing the three online poker sites available in Delaware, what may make the most sense from a decision-making perspective is how far any of the locations are from where the players live. The easiest way to get the best customer service is to head to the land-based property, but also it is valuable to find sites that offer support via Live Chat or Social Media to ensure that you can reach someone 24 hours a day.
Payments to and from online poker sites in Delaware
When online poker became legal in states like Delaware, it became much easier for players to make deposits and withdrawals to the regulated sites. There are many options for depositing money into your online account, including:
- Casino Cage – you can go to the land-based casino that operates your website and make a deposit in person
- Credit Cards – most credit cards are now working again for online poker sites in Delaware
- Debit Cards
- E-Wallets – Skrill, Neteller
- Wire Transfer – these are a little slower than other methods
Delaware Online Poker FAQ
I see ads for online poker sites that aren’t the ones listed on this page. Are they legal?
The offshore gambling industry continues to attract players from the U.S. despite it not being legal to do so. In the wake of Black Friday in 2011, most of the online poker sites based outside the country were shut down, but some smaller networks remain today. While you are able to make deposits and play on these sites, we do not recommend this activity, especially with some great options open and regulated in Delaware today.
What is Bitcoin, and can I use it at an online poker site?
Bitcoin is the most popular of the cryptocurrencies that exist in the world today. These deregulated digital currencies are being used for many online purchases, including deposits and withdrawals at offshore online gambling sites. If you have read anything about Bitcoin, you are likely aware of its volatile valuation, which is why it is not currently being offered as a payment method at online poker sites that are regulated by the Delaware Lottery
Is mobile poker available in Delaware?
This is one significant drawback to playing legal online poker in Delaware. At this time, there are no mobile apps for any of the operators, which means you are restricted to playing from your laptop or desktop computers. It is hoped that the poker apps that are offered by the major networks will be approved for use in Delaware soon.
How can I tell where the players I am playing with are from?
When you register your account, you are asked to confirm your address. When you sit at a table, your Username is shown, and if you hover over the avatar, you are also going to see where each of the players is from. This will give you an idea if you are playing against Delaware residents or those from New Jersey.
Can I make a withdrawal from an online poker site in Delaware at a casino?
Right now, the answer to this question is no. Sites are not offering this type of withdrawal, meaning you will have to wait for either an ACH or check withdrawal, or perhaps one from an e-wallet solution if it is offered by the site at which you are playing.