Dover NASCAR Track First Venue with Betting Windows

Dover NASCAR Track First Venue with Betting Windows

Delawareans were the first to ratify the United States Constitution.

They were the first outside of Nevada to begin placing legal sports bets after the Supreme Court in May nullified the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992.

And on Saturday at Dover International Speedway ,Delaware NASCAR fans and tourists will be the first in the United States not at a boxing match or horse race to make those wagers on the grounds of a sports arena without using a mobile device.

It’s something. But, what?

First State first again this weekend

It could ultimately be nothing more than an historical footnote, and recent data supports the theory specifically as it relates to NASCAR. It could be a moment in a movement. It will, Dover Motorsports CEO Denis McGlynn hopes, at least be informative.

“Frankly, I don’t know what to expect,” McGlynntold Gambling.com. “I’ve always suspected there’s been betting going on unofficially somewhere in that grandstand, but we’ve never really paid a whole lot of attention to it. But I think this will give us a chance to see whether it really gets some traction or if people just ignore it.

“And I have no idea.”

Delaware and Nevada are the only states in which NASCAR races that currently allow sports betting. Though PAPSA was overturned in a case brought by New Jersey, Delaware brought its platform online first. Mississippi and West Virginia sports books are currently taking bets, and the practice is legal, but stalled in implementation in Pennsylvania. NASCAR races at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond.

Though spectators can bet on mobile devices anywhere in Nevada including Las Vegas Motor Speedway or T-Mobile Arena for Vegas Golden Knights National Hockey League games, no gambling “apparatus” has ever been installed at the track, track vice president of public relations Jeff Motley told Gambling.com. They are also not allowed in NHL arenas.

Synthesis of sports venue and adjoining casino

Mobile betting is not legal in Delaware.

So Dover Downs Gaming and Entertainment - which operates Dover Downs Hotel and Casino's gambling operation under the auspices of the Delaware Lottery - obtaining clearance to construct a tented betting parlor behind the DIS grandstands represents not only the first legal betting sanctioned inside the track, but a melding of business with the casino looming over its backstretch. Dover Motorsports, a separate publicly traded company, owns the racetrack.

The betting area will be open from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. on Saturday and 8 a.m.-7 p.m. on Sunday.

Before the PAPSA repeal, patrons of the Dover sportsbook within the casino could only bet National Football League parlays regulated as games of chance. Fans can wager win, head-to-head and future NASCAR bets at the track betting station and anything else available in the sportsbook.

“We’ll adjust according to what the demand is calling for,” McGlynn said of prospective business at the track. “We don’t quite know what to expect. We know that over on the casino side, people pour in, especially when the football season starts. But it’s going be a new experience for everyone over behind the outdoor grandstand for the NASCAR races."

NASCAR hasn’t been a major source of interest

McGlynn said NASCAR has accounted for a “very small percentage” of wagering volume since the three state outlets began accepting sports bets on June 5. According to the Delaware Lottery, roughly only $60,000 of $39.77 million wagered on all sports involved NASCAR.

The value, McGlynn said, could be in keeping with the verifiable benefits legalized sports gambling has brought to the NFL and other leagues in terms of television viewership and, subsequently, rights fees.

The applicable non-betting analogy, he said, is fantasy sports.

“A friend of mine got me involved in that [in the 1980s] and we had a lot of fun trash-talking each other and all that other stuff, but, really, what the end result was, I’d pay a whole lot more attention to baseball both researching the teams, the players and games I never would have watched in my life,” McGlynn explained. “There is an attraction once you have a betting interest in the sport. It adds a different dimension and maybe a new dimension in watching.

“So, even if it doesn’t transpire in bets across the window behind the grandstand, if over time it becomes more normalized and people realize that it’s there, and get used to it, maybe it will help increase the overall interest in the sport and viewership like it did with the NFL back in the day.”

That would seem unlikely if the infinitesimally small NASCAR percentage of betting handle in Delaware is directly reflective of interest.

NASCAR could use the boost. With few exceptions in recent seasons, the sanctioning body that once lured hundreds of thousands to what are now known as the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races continues to be dogged by down-trending attendance and television figures.

Drivers seem willing to explore any avenue for sustaining the viability of their livelihoods. Las Vegas native and former series champion Kyle Busch told USA TODAY in May that he believed legalized sports gambling will “put more eyeballs on [NASCAR]. I think it’ll bring some interest to the sport.”

“I think it’s just a difference of where the world is going and what’s kind of happening, so I think it’s fine,” he added.

NASCAR officials declined a request for comment on legalized sports betting or its potential impact.

Impact of temporary sports book a curiosity

McGlynn said Dover Downs’ casino added “a few more people behind the [betting] windows” in its sports parlor after betting became legal. Race fans, he said, tend to congregate in the casino during NASCAR weekends, so he’s interested to juxtapose betting totals against the outside booth.

“I wouldn’t say it’s going to be a huge money-maker for the motorsports company because this is all done under the other company,” he said.

McGlynn said he prefers the sports betting status quo in Delaware, which forces patrons inside casinos and within reach of all the other wares and services Dover Downs offers because of the absences of mobile betting.

“We would prefer to have it here in the bricks-and-mortar facility rather than over mobile,” he admitted. “But, you know, over time, the market always basically resolves issues like this. We’re waiting for this to grow and mature a little bit and see which way the trends are going and follow accordingly. So, we’re all sort of new at this experience and we’ll see how it plays out.”

The burden of being first.

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