Delaware Announces "Soft Launch" for Internet Gambling; Full Launch Planned for Nov. 8
On Thursday, Delaware Lottery officials announced that the state has begun a "soft launch" of real-money online gambling, using a group of preferred players located within Delaware's borders for a week of live testing.
According to the Associated Press, State lottery director Vernon Kirk said that officials want to make sure things go smoothly ahead of a full launch in Delaware early next month. The Delaware Lottery is testing services such as transfers between casino and player bank accounts, as well as gameplay for poker, blackjack, roulette and slots.
If the trial run goes well over the next week, all Delaware residents will be able to gamble on the Internet beginning on Nov. 8.
Kirk didn't say who was selected to participate in the soft launch, but each person chosen had participated in the free-money games that were introduced in August. The free-play site, available on Facebook via the DoubleDown Casino platform, served as the foundation for the real-money operation. Double Down is owned by IGT, one of Delaware's selected slot vendors.
Three racinos in Delaware, two publicly traded companies and one privately owned, will offer gaming websites under the jurisdiction of the Delaware state lottery. Gaming is a large part of the small state's budget, generating more than $250 million annually in state tax dollars compared to a state budget of about $3.4 billion. The new forms of gambling established by the bill are expected to generate an additional $7.75 million in revenues for the state in 2013.
Unlike in Nevada, which was the first state to launch regulated online gambling in April, Internet poker won't be the only gaming offered in Delaware. Casino games and lottery tickets will be on the menu, as well, making Delaware the first state to offer full-scale Internet gambling.
Meanwhile, New Jersey is planning to roll out its iGaming operation on Nov. 26. According to New Jersey State Senator Ray Lesniak, the Garden State will be an "Internet gaming dynasty" that will dominate the national and international market.
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