One of the smallest states in the nation is one of the only states offering legal online poker to its residents. How does it manage this with such a small population? With a little help from its friends.
Delaware is a small state that is likely best known for its very liberal corporate tax structures, making it a hotbed for companies creating legal entities in the U.S. You may not know, however, that the state also finds itself at the forefront of the online gambling legalization in the country. Delaware seems to have found a niche in beating larger states to the punch when it comes to legalizing gambling, as was the case with online poker. What does this tiny state offer its residents who want to hit the digital poker tables? This page will give you all the information you need to know.
History of legal Online Poker in Delaware
Online poker was big business in the U.S. for most of the 2000s. With major brands staking a claim in the country, the numbers of players across the top networks were staggering, until it all started to come crashing down in 2006. That year, the government made the financial transactions of online gambling activity illegal to process by U.S. banks, sending the online poker industry into turmoil. The sector finally shuttered in 2011 when the Department of Justice seized the URLs of the top three sites accepting American players.
From that moment, individual states have been trying to decide whether or not to make online poker legal (it is up to the states to legislate gaming activities). While Nevada and New Jersey were the most vocal on the topic, it was Delaware that managed to be the first state to legalize online poker when it passed legislation in late 2012.
It took until late 2013 for sites to officially launch. The only online poker license was awarded to the Lottery, which oversees the activity at the three land-based casinos in the state. Each location was also given approval for online casino games.
Online Poker sites in Delaware
As mentioned, there are only three online poker sites in the state of Delaware, offering their games in a regulated environment:
1. Delaware Park
While there are three distinct brands available, it is important to understand that they all feed into one player pool, using the same software with different branding and promotions. The software is managed by 888.com, which was already the online lottery provider for the Delaware Lottery before the online poker legislation passed. This means that no matter which site you choose to play with, you will see the same games at the other two sites unless one casino is having a promotion or tournament unique to their brand.
With a population just shy of 1 million, there isn’t a vast pool of players to draw on for the three sites, even if they are all playing together. To assist in keeping games open 24 hours a day, Delaware entered into an agreement with both Nevada and New Jersey that would see the players at both 888.com and WSOP.com all funneled into the same pool. This means that players in Delaware can benefit from larger tournament prize pools and more open cash games.
Online Poker Tournaments in Delaware
The online poker sites in Delaware have a full tournament schedule, with dozens of guaranteed events running every day. The Sunday events tend to have the largest prize pools, as this is when the industry displays its biggest guarantees. If you are a fan of No-Limit Hold’em, you are sure to find a tournament that suits you the best at one of the Delaware online poker sites. There are buy-in levels from very small up to those for a bigger bankroll, and with different speeds, you can be in a tournament that lasts only a couple of hours or all day long.
There are a few tournaments that are not No-Limit Hold’em events, but given the fact that most players prefer NLH, you aren’t going to find a wide array of Omaha or Stud events to choose from.
Online Poker Cash Games in Delaware
Cash games are very popular amongst most poker players because you are not confined to the time frame of an event in order to sit at a table. With games accessible from laptops, it is easier than ever to sit down at a table to play just a few hands or a more extended session. The most popular cash games in Delaware, to no one’s surprise, are also No-Limit Hold’em tables. Still, one thing to remember is that there is an unlimited amount of money that can be reloaded at these tables, so players play with a very different strategy than when sitting at a tournament table.
If you are new to real money poker, these sites give you a chance to sit at the penny tables, where you can feel the rush of betting real money but in denominations that will not break the bank.
Payment Options in Delaware
Unlike some of the other states that have legalized online gambling, there are limited options for deposits and withdrawals at online poker sites in Delaware. The most popular choice is using credit or debit cards – for the most part, all U.S. banks are accepting these transactions. However, it is essential to remember that if you are using a credit card, you will be paying interest on those funds which factor into your overall profitability. You can also, if you like, head into one of the land-based facilities and fund your online account with cash at a teller window. This is not the most convenient option but it does give you the comfort of knowing the transaction will be completed.
When it comes to withdrawing your money, the only two options you have in Delaware is an e-check withdrawal directly to your bank account or requesting a physical check – you are not able to process a withdrawal at the land-based casinos at this time.
It is hoped that e-wallets like Paypal, Skrill and Neteller will all become viable payment options in the near future. Each of them offers a straightforward interface and has been approved for online gambling transactions in other states, so we think it is likely only a matter of time before they are available to Delaware residents.
Delaware Online Poker FAQ
Why are there so few legal sites open to Delaware residents?
Let’s start with the obvious – it is a very small state. With such a small population, it would be highly unlikely that multiple online poker sites would have enough traffic to be able to host games. And while there is a compact between Delaware and two other states to assist with overall liquidity, there is only one license holder currently in Delaware, so there is no way another site can even launch at this point.
Can I play against friends in other legal states?
If you are playing from Delaware, you are playing on the 888 Poker Network. The agreement struck between Delaware, New Jersey and Nevada allows for pooled play between residents of those states. However, 888 only has a site currently live in New Jersey, so the agreement also includes players on the WSOP.com networks as well, giving you a better chance of finding yourself at a table with one of your out-of-state friends.
What’s stopping me from playing at an offshore site?
Nothing, really. There are a handful of offshore sites that survived both UIGEA in 2006 and Black Friday in 2011. These sites, hosted outside the country in places like Costa Rica, continue to take action from Americans and in many cases, are quite vocal about this option. However, given how difficult it is to make deposits and withdrawals at these sites and the general risk of them shutting down without a moment’s notice, we do not recommend that you play at these sites.
Can I use a VPN to access other sites?
Again, this is something you could do if you wanted to circumvent the current landscape in Delaware. However, to make deposits or withdrawals from any online poker site, you have to verify who you are, and that includes your address. So, even if you were lucky enough to create an account, it would be near impossible to fund it and even tougher to get your winnings out of there. Doesn’t sounds like a great option, does it?
Why can’t I access my account when I am traveling outside Delaware?
In order to comply with state regulations, online poker sites can only be accessible within the boundaries of the states in which they are licensed. This is why if you are trying to reach your poker site while traveling out of state, you will get an error message. There is no penalty for trying – your money is still safe, it just can’t be accessed until you return to the confines of Delaware.
When will there be more options for Delaware residents to play online poker?
It is hard to say if there will ever be any other online poker sites that are available for Delaware residents. Currently, the Lottery is the only online gaming license holder. Unless the government decides to open up a more competitive landscape, it will remain the only legal online poker option in the state.
Can I play online poker from my mobile phone in Delaware?
Unfortunately, at this time, you cannot download a poker app to your phone. You can only download software to your laptop or desktop computer if you want to play from Delaware.