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Delaware preparing to take sports bets

While the hubby and I were checking out the sports books in Las Vegas last week, on the East Coast another state legalized betting on athletic events.

Shortly after Delaware Gov. Jack Markell signed his state's new sports betting bill into law, Delaware's three casinos began making plans to have the gambling option operational by the start of the NFL season.

The National Football League (NFL), however, is working on ways to stop the First State from becoming the first state east of the Mississippi to accept sports bets.

League spokesman Brian McCarthy said the NFL is "not ruling anything out" when it comes to legal action to halt sports betting's implementation in Delaware.

The NFL already has filed a brief with the Delaware Supreme Court. Because sports betting is more skill than chance, the NFL's lawyers are arguing that "the sports lottery proposed by the Governor is not a constitutionally permissible lottery" under state law.

Been there, bet that: Delaware's been here before. In 1976, it launched its first sports lottery.

The NFL sued back then, too. Thirty-two years ago, the state's high court ruled that since "chance was the dominant, determining factor," the sports lottery, which consisted purely of parlays where bettors chose multiple games in order to win, was allowed under state law.

In the end, it was finances, not legal challenges, that doomed Delaware's first sports lottery. The state pulled the plug on sports betting back then after just one year because it wasn't bringing in as much money as lawmakers had hoped.

But that sports betting foray allowed Delaware to be grandfathered in (along with Oregon, Nevada and Montana) under a 1992 federal law that bans other states from establishing sports gambling.

What bettors want: If early reports are an indication, East Coast bettors don't want just parlay betting.

"These people tell us they'd be more inclined to make a straight bet, say, putting $100 against the spread on the Eagles over the Giants than play some sort of parlay or lottery-type game," Delaware Park general manager Andrew Gentile told Casino Gambling Web.

Judging from the state's sports gambling venture 30-plus years ago, the wishes of patrons just might carry a lot more weight now. Gambling data show that the more gambling options a person has, the better chance they will spend more of their entertainment money.

"There is no doubt that if Delaware goes to full scale sports betting like what is offered in Las Vegas, they have a chance to become one of the most popular gambling destinations on the East Coast," said observer Mike Frandle, "If it is just parlay bets, there is a likely chance that people will just continue to bet through their local bookies."

IRS' gambling record keeping rules: Here in Texas, gamblers are still waiting for Lone Star lawmakers to allow them to place their bets. Bills this legislative session to legalize slots, casinos, poker rooms and Indian gaming once again failed.

So folks will continue to head to neighboring Louisiana or, as the hubby and I just did, to Las Vegas.

Tax tip icon (3) Regardless of where you go to gamble, remember that your winnings are taxable income. You can,however, deduct your losses, up to the amount of your winnings, to help ease the tax bite.

IRS Publication 529 suggests you keep a gambling diary, recording your winnings and losses separately.

Actually, the IRS says you "must" keep such records if you want to guarantee that you meet reporting requirements and ensure your deductions aren't disallowed.

According to Publication 529, for tax purposes your gambling diary should contain at least the following information.

The date and type of your specific wager or wagering activity. The name and address or location of the gambling establishment. The names of other persons present with you at the gambling establishment. The amount(s) you won or lost.

In addition to your diary, you should also have other documentation. If you win enough, you'll get a Form W-2G, Certain Gambling Winnings, from the paying casino, track or other payor.

You also can verify your winnings by showing wagering tickets, canceled checks, substitute checks, credit records, bank withdrawals and statements of actual winnings or payment slips provided to you by the gambling establishment.  

For certain wagers, the IRS also offers some specific record keeping suggestions.

Keno: Copies of the keno tickets you purchased that were validated by the gambling establishment, copies of your casino credit records, and copies of your casino check cashing records.

Slot machines: A record of the machine number and all winnings by date and time the machine was played.

Table games: Record the number of the table (blackjack, craps, poker, baccarat, roulette, wheel of fortune, etc.):at which you were playing. Casino credit card data indicating whether the credit was issued in the pit or at the cashier's cage.

Bingo: A record of the number of games played, cost of tickets purchased, and amounts collected on winning tickets. Supplemental records include any receipts from the casino, parlor, etc.

Racing: A record of the races (horse, harness, dog, etc.), amounts of wagers, amounts collected on winning tickets, and amounts lost on losing tickets. Supplemental records include unredeemed tickets and payment records from the racetrack.

Lotteries: A record of ticket purchases, dates, winnings, and losses. Supplemental records include unredeemed tickets, payment slips, and winnings statements.

I must confess that I didn't track our small gambling foray in Vegas. But I promise I will report the $67 dollars I won playing one of the Hilton Casino's Texas Tea slot machines.


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Zack Nutter

Im not sure why the NFL is so interested in making sports betting so difficult. They may not want to admit it but gambing and fantasy football are what make the NFL so popular.


Questions always welcome!

The NFL says that sports betting involves skill. YOu have to know the teams, personnel and coaches, as well as injury situaitons (which the NFL happily announces), records, etc. Being successful is not just picking teams at random, although sometimes that seems to work as well, at least with my teams!

But the state high court said back in the 70s that the type of betting allowed then, parlay bets, were simple chance and that made the original sports lottery system OK under Delaware law.

This time, the governor has endorsed the parlay system again, but it seems that casinos, wanting a bigger take, want to go the Las Vegas route. Which would make the NFL argument more viable.

We'll just have to wait and see what shakes out this time around.


dan michalski

***Because sports betting is more skill than chance***

Are you sure this is correct, or is this a typo? Just curious, because that would be a big deal in my little gambling legislation world.

A few sentences later you say:

***Thirty-two years ago, the state's high court ruled that since "chance was the dominant, determining factor," the sports lottery, which consisted purely of parlays where bettors chose multiple games in order to win, was allowed under state law. ***

not trying to call you out in my first comment on this site, but just wanting to get it straight since the skill vs. luck issue always seems to be important these days.

Fred Peterson

Thanks for the info about betting :)

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