We've somewhat won a key battle in the First State of Delaware. No, we're not talking about General George Washington crossing the Delaware River here in 1776 during the American Revolutionary War near Trenton, New Jersey. This is about fighting for a much longer running cause. The battle for legalized U.S. sports betting freedom on the East Coast.
While the U.S. Third Court of Appeals waits to hear the next "en banc" round of appeals to potentially allow sports wagering in New Jersey, the little state of Delaware has quietly succeeded and built a nice business in legalized & regulated NFL football wagering.
Parlay is the Way
But wait. Don't think while dancing in Dover or waltzing in Wilmington, Delaware this week you'll be able to bet the New York Giants +4.5 straight up vs. the Philadelphia Eagles. By virtue of the 1992 Federal PASPA law (The Professional Sports & Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 a.k.a "The Bradley Act), it mandates that all wagering must be conducting via PARLAY wagering only. And all parlay bets must be placed with a minimum of (3) teams allowed. If you still prefer to bet straight-up, stop reading and book a plane ticket to Nevada or conveniently check the list of recommended offshore sportsbooks to wager online.
It seems like strange American history now, but Delaware was one of four states in 1992 including Montana and Oregon and also Nevada with their special licensing pools that exercised an exemption right of Federal law under a strict code of guidelines. The most major being a multi-bet tier or parlay mandate to prevent any type of possible collusion, insider advantage or potential for legal problem. The sports lottery laws would be therefore governed by each individual state similar to traditional state lotteries. To make it simple in non-legalese, it would be impossible for any person or group to "fix" the results of three or more games or contests.
As part of a widespread trend to legalize, regulate, and tax sports to increase tax revenues, many states most notably New Jersey #1 are trying to persuade the federal government to repeal PASPA. Proponents of repeal typically assert that the law as written is inherently unconstitutional, as the US constitution reserves to the states all rights not explicitly granted to the Federal government—such as gambling regulation. And off to the courts we've gone while little ol' Delaware has built a nice substitution business over the past five years.
But is Parlay Still the Way?
Like any other business, success breeds the opportunity to expand the menu. And this is where it is truly unfair and frankly where the odds in Delaware are not in the public's favor whatsoever.
For starters, any handicapping guidebook would not recommend betting a parlay at all. The odds are not statistically advantageous and are only attractive for the element of cashing a larger payout without the seemingly burden of the vigorish or "the juice" added to the wager. And if you must bet a parlay, no more than TWO teams are recommended for a wager. Adding more teams further decreases the statistical advantage while bettors dream of hitting longshot-style payoffs.
In Delaware, the minimum number of teams to mark is (3) with a payoff of 6.5 for 1 to (12 teams) with a payoff of 2,500 for 1. Incremental payoffs are available for 4 to 11 team parlays.
Did you notice I carefully wrote 6.5 FOR 1 and not 6.5 TO 1? That is the way it is cleverly and deceptively written for naive gamblers on The Delaware Sports Lottery Games ticket to enter your team choices. In essence this accurately means 5.5 TO 1 odds for a 3-team parlay as one would be accustomed to seeing in a Las Vegas casino or offshore sportsbook. Or NOT accustomed to as parlays often pay more offshore or in Nevada sportsbooks.
Which brings us to Delaware with no legal U.S. competition from any bordering or near-by states. There are basically no U.S. or state rules to say how they can conduct betting or set the odds on payoffs. It's simply what the market will bear. The only realistic guidelines they have in comparison is the offshore wagering market including popular offshore wagering websites similar to Diamond Sports, BetOnline or a Bovada. Like purchasing gasoline, it currently costs about $3.75 a gallon in Hawaii and $1.80 in South Carolina.
For those Who Like to be Teased
I have always been a strong proponent of teaser betting for NFL games but not involving College Football. Due to the incredible amount of close games and numbers coming close to the spread in an enormous high percentage of NFL games, teaser betting can be a highly profitable opportunity. Look for an upcoming OSGA article fully detailing these advantages.
Delaware has gone full throttle in the teaser world but boy oh boy, lookout and be careful if you're in the neighborhood. The First State now offers Straight Teasers, Super Teasers and Reverse Teasers, which sound like titles from an Adult theater menu. Let me explain:
A Super Teaser increases a team's point spread "somewhere around" a full 10 points. You must play a minimum of 4 teams at a payoff of 11 for 5. Yeah, I know...there goes that word "FOR" again. But wait. Reverse Teasers are even more painful but very enticing for gullible gamblers. In a Delaware reverse teaser, a team's point spread is lowered or reversed "somewhere around" 6 full points. You must play at least (3) teams with a handsome payoff of 20-1. The problem is that approximately only about one-third or less of all NFL teams qualify to reach that reverse number on any given Sunday. Again, there are many less blow-outs or major upsets to even qualify a team to win as a reverse candidate. Duh.
Here's the most amazing rule or should I say NO RULE. I specifically used the words "somewhat around" in describing how all the teaser odds are set. In comparison, a Bovada, Just Bet or Diamond Sports exactly dictates a 6, 6.5 or 7 point teaser in their offshore wagering menu. Not in the Delaware Sports Lottery. Depending on their discretion, a team may be awarded anywhere between 4.5 to 7 points based on supply and demand. For example, local favorites and popular teams like the Philadelphia Eagles, New York Giants, Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers get rationed. More obscure teams like the Houston Texans or Jacksonville Jaguars may get an extra point. Yes, it's truly bizarre with some savvy people often taking wagering advantage.
While we wait out endless appeals in the U.S. appellate courts fighting PASPA, at least we do have a Delaware to give us something. We can't fault them for taking a bit of advantage while they have the virtual "appetizer" legal betting market to themselves east of Nevada. And do remember, Delaware must set their lines on Tuesday to print permanent cards for the week on Wednesday AM. They do not have the luxury of changing lines similar to a Nevada sportsbook or any of the major offshore sportsbooks. And it's nice knowing you can collect at over 100 state outlets the following Tuesday if you win. But if your payoffs are anything over $600, you can only collect at one of their three racetrack facilities. How convenient. They all have full casinos to bet your winnings with!!
So, like General George Washington, keep fighting for your legalized sports wagering rights! And if you happen to be in the Delaware vicinity, bet a few bucks on a 3-team NFL parlay only. Just no 10-team Super Teasers or 5-team Reverse Teasers. You can get more fair odds on Powerball and not worry about back-door covers.
Glenn Greene covers the games from a betting angle every week exclusively at OSGA.com. For weekly betting insights, inlcuding NFL previews and picks from Glenn, click here.