ey went ahead with a party for about 300 people Wednesday night that was planned as a sneak preview of its us$ 5 million betting parlor the night before the launch of sports betting in Delaware.
As food preparers put the finishing touches on the buffet Wednesday afternoon, Key admitted she felt a little like the bride left standing at the altar - but who goes ahead with the pricey reception anyway. "Once this company makes a commitment and decision to go forward we carry through with our commitments and make the best out of it," Key said.
Just a few weeks ago, Delaware casinos were racing to get existing space retrofitted in time for the big day - today's start of sports betting. Thinking Delaware would be the only outlet east of the Mississippi where people could legally bet on single-game athletic contests in a range of sports, casino operators and the state were gearing up for a windfall.
But a federal appeals court in Philadelphia took the air out the balloon at the end of August when it ruled the state's proposed sports betting scheme violated a 1992 law that was designed to protect the integrity of sports and limit the spread of state-sponsored sports betting.
Under the ruling by the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, Delaware is limited to multi-game - or parlay - betting on National Football League games only. The ruling came after the state's three racinos invested roughly us$ 11 million combined to create Las Vegas-style sports and race books. Harrington's book has a bar, about 200 plush seats and 60 big-screen televisions to create a pub atmosphere, Key said.
Dover Downs Hotel & Casino in Dover invested us$ 5 million to develop a combination restaurant and race and sports book. The area has 200 seats, 60 screens and 11 tellers, said Ed Sutor, executive vice president of Dover Downs Gaming & Entertainment.
Delaware Park near Wilmington spent approximately us$ 1 million to upgrade a space that underwent a major renovation two years ago. "All three tracks knew there was a risk there, although actually we didn't think it would turn out the way it did," Key said. Still, the mood at the Harrington party bodes well for today's launch of sports betting.
While the court decision angered and disappointed some of the guests at the Harrington party, most were looking forward to trying parlay games. Remeikis even had a little session on how to play.
While Sutor of Dover Downs said he wasn't sure what to expect on opening day, he wasn't ruling out that the sports book "could be overrun." "We have no idea. If I ever opened up a sports book on the East Coast, I'd have an inkling. But I never have," Sutor said. "We're hoping for the best."
Bill Fasy, president of Delaware Park, said his whole management team has had a change of heart - for the better. "They're out of the doldrums and they're saying 'This might be all right,' " Fasy said.