BetRivers launched five months ago

Delaware bill seeking to allow multiple sports betting vendors, challenging BetRiver's exclusive contract

Reading time 2:12 min

Delaware's sports betting market would transform under a new bill filed by State Representative Frank Cooke (D-New Castle), which seeks to allow multiple vendors to operate within the state. The proposal challenges the current exclusive contract with the BetRivers app.

The contract with BetRivers, made by the Delaware Lottery Office in August 2023, was signed before the Internet Sports Lottery Legislative Working Group was able to deliver its final report. This group, upon completion of its study, recommended for the state to permit up to six mobile sports betting operators, a move that Cooke's legislation aims to codify.

"This legislation will produce revenue for the state and assure that Delaware's lottery office remains competitive with our neighboring states," said Cooke. He highlighted the consumer demand for a variety of operators, noting that many Delaware residents currently venture into neighboring states to access their preferred mobile platforms.

Although the bill's sponsor and advocates argue a competitive sports market will ultimately be more profitable for the state, the current fiscal note estimates the state will lose approximately $3 million in revenue annually, reports Delaware Public Media.

The proposal would require operators to provide the state with 18% of their revenue, while BetRivers is estimated to pay around 40% of revenues that go into the General Fund. However, the fiscal note does not factor in one-time revenue from the $500,000 license fee each vendor would be required to pay for a 5-year license.

Adam Marchuk, representing Rush Street Interactive, the parent company of BetRivers, defended the current single-operator model. "We are on pace to meet and exceed all projections for the Delaware online sports betting market this year and for years to come," Marchuk asserted.

"If the market is the same size, the state unquestionably makes more revenue — generates more revenue — under the single operator model, as reflected in the fiscal note," Marchuk added, arguing that the app has only been operational for almost five months and that the sole contract remains the most profitable option for Delaware.

He highlighted the substantial revenue generated for the state, which amounts to roughly 58% of gross gaming revenue, distributed to various sectors including the General Fund, horse racing industry, and problem gambling support.

Despite arguments in favor of the existing model, proponents of the bill contend that Delaware is missing out on potential revenue due to the limited brand recognition of BetRivers. Mike Ventre, a representative from FanDuel, cited significant demand for alternative platforms among Delaware residents. "In the month of March alone, there were 600,000 attempts to log into the FanDuel app in the state of Delaware," he said.

House Speaker Valerie Longhurst (D-Bear) expressed skepticism regarding the projected fiscal loss, suggesting a reevaluation of the fiscal estimates. "I just have a hard time believing that we would be losing money," Longhurst stated.

House Minority Leader Mike Ramone (R-Pike Creek South) has raised concerns about potential legal challenges from Rush Street Interactive if the bill were to go through. Meanwhile, representatives from rival operators BetMGM and DraftKings have voiced support for the proposed legislation.

Following deliberations, the bill was released from the House Administration Committee, with members urging further negotiations among stakeholders before its presentation to the House floor.

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