For the first time since 2014, Rutgers is off to a 2-0 start even though its results on offense are not necessarily indicative of its record.
Ranked near or at the bottom nationally of several major offensive categories, the Scarlet Knights hope to display an improved ability to move the ball and remain unbeaten Saturday afternoon when they host FCS foe Delaware in Piscataway, N.J.
Rutgers (2-0) is seeking its first 3-0 start since winning the first seven games of the 2012 season in coach Kyle Flood’s debut season after Greg Schiano’s first stint. The Scarlet Knights are unbeaten despite ranking 129th in yards per completion, 118th in total offense, tied for 114th in third-down conversion, tied for 98th in red zone offense and 93rd in rushing offense.
In the season opener, Rutgers cruised to a 61-14 win over Temple despite getting 365 total yards offense, and in Saturday’s 17-7 win at Syracuse, offense was significantly more difficult to come by. Against Syracuse, the Scarlet Knights totaled 195 yards on offense, converted 3 of 15 third downs and did not score until Kyle Monangai’s 11-yard TD run with 6:46 left in the third quarter.
Quarterback Noah Vedral completed 22 of 28 passes for 145 yards and a go-ahead touchdown later in the third quarter.
“I actually thought Noah did exactly what he needed to do,” Schiano said. “He needed to come here and play a clean game, and he really did do that.”
Delaware (2-0) is ranked sixth in the STATS Perform FCS poll, made the FCS semifinals last season and was picked second in the Colonial Athletic Association preseason poll. The Fightin’ Blue Hens followed up a 34-24 win at Maine with a 27-10 win over St. Francis (PA) when Nolan Henderson completed 18 of 23 passes for 259 yards.
“Delaware was one of the best (four) teams in the whole country last year — that’s why they played (in the semifinals),” Schiano said. “As you watch them, they’re a good football team. They have good players on offense, good players on defense and good players in the kicking game. We understand exactly what Delaware is.”
Delaware is 0-9 against FBS opponents since Joe Flacco led a 59-52 win at Navy in 2007. In 2019, Delaware held a lead into the fourth quarter in a 17-14 loss at Pittsburgh.
“College football is a beautiful thing,” Blue Hens coach Danny Rocco said. “On any given Saturday, you just start all over every week.”
Saturday is the 32nd meeting between the schools but first since 1973.
In October, Delaware’s total sports betting handle dropped almost $2 million, from $16,830,010 in September to $14,738,223, according to the latest report from the Delaware Lottery. But that $14.7 million September handle is the second biggest since the First State became the first state outside Nevada to offer full-fledged, legal sports betting in June.
Previously the state offered parlay wagering on NFL contests only, an offering that was “grandfathered” in under the 1992 federal law ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in May. That law had banned full-fledged sports betting outside Nevada.
Delaware Park, located less than an hour from Philadelphia, remained the busiest sportsbook. Bettors placing $10.6 million in wagers there, compared to the $2.2 million handle at Dover Downs and $1.9 million at Harrington Raceway.
The New Mexico Lottery Board on Tuesday voted to approve a game linked with the outcome of sporting events, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported. The game will mark the second venture for an entity in New Mexico to offer sports betting after the Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act in May. Just last month, the tribal-owned Santa Ana Star Casino & Hotel, with USBookmaking as its operator, launched a sportsbook.
Though details of the new lottery game were not made public, it’s likely it will involve parlay wagering, similar to Delaware’s sports lottery. In such a game, players must select the winners of at least three sports events and select each one correctly in order to win.
The driving force behind developing a sports-related lottery game is to generate more money for education, which the lottery funds. Lottery CEO David Barden told the Santa Fe New Mexican that the new game could produce $30 million a year, with $9 million to be directed to the lottery’s college tuition assistance program.
As states across the country are discussing legal sports betting, there has been much ado about sportsbooks operating on thin margins, which is news to a lot of lawmakers. By most accounts, a sportsbook earns between $1-$2 in net revenue from every $100 bet after all the money is divvied up. So where does the money go?
Much of it goes back to the winning bettors and there are the obvious expenses — paying employees, buying software and equipment, purchasing or renting space. And then there are taxes. The seven states that have legalized sports betting so far* apply wildly different tax rates on gross sports wagering revenue, from 6.75 percent in Nevada to more than 50 percent in Rhode Island.
Why is one of the architects of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act taking point on sports betting in Congress? After all, PASPA was deemed unconstitutional just three months ago, and it seems highly unlikely that Congress will get a second shot at prohibiting sports betting.
The simple answer is that the upcoming mid-term elections have created something of a void. Senators and representatives don’t want any part of controversial legislation when their names are on the ballot. But Orrin Hatch, the conservative Utah senator who helped author PASPA, isn’t on the ballot. He’s retiring. And as his swan song, he clearly wants another federal mandate on sports betting.
Just days after the Supreme Court overturned PASPA in May, Hatch promised new legislation to help protect the integrity of the game. Yet in the ensuing months, as six states have legalized sports betting and three (Delaware, New Jersey and Mississippi) already have sportsbooks up and running, there has been no new bill.
Conservative Senator Opposes Sports Betting, But Delaware, New Jersey and Mississippi Are Already Accepting Sports Bets.
It seemed odd that last week, in the middle of a Senate session that had nothing to do with sports betting, that Hatch made his plea and again promised legislation that would “kick-start” the federal discussion on sports betting. Let’s be real here – Hatch is opposed to sports betting and he wants his legacy to be a last-minute law banning it again.
It’s highly unlikely that Hatch will get what he wants. There is little time left on the Congressional calendar before his term expires in January. In fact, without breaking down every little detail, there are only 35 legislative days between Labor Day weekend and the mid-term elections on Nov. 6. And while I don’t know much about how quickly Congress moves, that hardly seems like ample time before a series of lame-duck sessions after the elections. Or maybe it’s the lame-duck sessions Hatch is counting on?
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Don’t rush! If there is one thing that regulators in states that have legal sports betting want to share, that’s it.
“I wouldn’t rush into this,” Delaware Lottery director Vernon Kirk said. “The world is still going to be there tomorrow. If you get started a little late, be thorough, talk to people who have experience with this and just be careful in your legislation and execution.”
On June 5, Delaware became the first state since the Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) to offer legal sports betting. Delaware had company upon the debut of New Jersey sports betting on June 14, while Mississippi, Pennsylvania and West Virginia are currently developing regulations, accepting applications and preparing with licensees to begin accepting wagers in the next few months. DE, PA and NJ Sports Betting Officials Agree: Rolling out Sports Betting Regulations Requires Patience, and States Want to Get It Right the First Time.
Delaware was particularly quick in debuting full-fledged wagering at its licensed properties, but the same facilities already were experienced in offering NFL parlay wagering in years passed, plus it had many of its rules, regulations and technology in place after attempting to offer full-fledged sports betting in 2009. One month in, things are going smoothly.
Other states may not have the luxury of past experience, or the ability to be as nimble as Delaware, the second smallest state by population in the nation.
But every state regulating body is likely feeling at least a little bit of pressure. Some lawmakers across the country have been touting sports betting as a windfall for their state budgets. In fact, Rhode Island governor Gina Raimondo earmarked $23.5 million in sports betting revenue in her latest budget. Rhode Island made sports betting legal in late June.
To help get there, the state is taking 51 percent of all sports wagering revenue — by far the largest cut in the country. The state will still need to generate an awful lot of wagering and will not be allowing mobile betting off premises, either.
New Jersey will celebrate its first month anniversary of legal sports betting on July 14, which coincides with the first day that The Meadowlands will accept sports wagers. Currently, licensed sportsbooks are operating in three locations in New Jersey.
The Garden State was the driver of Murphy v NCAA, the case that escalated to the Supreme Court and resulted in the high court ruling PASPA unconstitutional. Monmouth Park, a key driver in the lawsuit, was the first to open for business.
“We are pleased with the rollout of sports wagering in New Jersey,” said David L. Rebuck, director of the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement. “While actual wagering only started in June, the Division was preparing for this possibility well in advance. My advice for other jurisdictions would be to have good communication with the industry and look to strong regulatory models such as New Jersey as you move forward.”
‘Don’t Let Your Legislators Go Crazy and Make Ridiculous Projections,’ Warned Delaware Lottery Directory Vernon Kirk.
In Pennsylvania, which passed its enabling legislation in 2017, the state gaming commission is in the process of rolling out regulations to get started. And just as in any other state, regulators know the whole endeavor is driven by money.
“We understand that the expansion of gambling in Pennsylvania is being undertaken to raise more money for the commonwealth,” said Doug Harbach, Director of Communications for the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. “We’re trying to get a potentially lucrative market up and running as soon as possible, but we want to make sure it has all of the necessary regulations to protect the public.”
Harbach’s sentiment was also echoed by Kirk in Delaware and down south, by Allen Godfrey, executive director of the Mississippi Gaming Commission.
“The one thing I would say is to tamp down expectations,” Kirk said. “We’re doing really well, but don’t let your legislators go crazy and make ridiculous projections and saddle you with unrealistic expectations.”
Said Godfrey: “The numbers out there are so out of whack, I wouldn’t want to quote them,” Godfrey said of lawmakers’ pie-in-the-sky expectations. “Anything we get will be more than we’re getting now.”
Mississippi, Pennsylvania and West Virginia Are Aiming to Take First Legal Sports Bets During or Even Before, Football Season.
In Mississippi, sports betting regulations will go into effect on July 21. The state’s gaming commission has already received at least a handful of applications from potential operators and it appears that every commercial casino in the state will offer sports betting. The gaming commission, which has been overseeing the state’s 28 casinos for more than 25 years, moved swiftly to put out its regulations.
In West Virginia, the goal, according to West Virginia Lottery general counsel Danielle Boyd, is for the Mountaineer State to accept its first sports bet by football season, but no later than Sept. 1. West Virginia has five casinos. The state will roll out regulations under “emergency status.”
“It’s a different animal than anything that we’ve dealt with before and so knowing that, we’ve tried to surround ourselves with the best and the brightest consultants,” Boyd told Sports Handle in June. “One of the challenges has been making sure that we have the legislative rules we need, but avoiding ones we don’t. So we’ll need some flexibility.”
“We do have ’emergency status’ until early December as far as these legislative rules are concerned. So we can change them, we can add to them if we need to until December, but after that point, they would have to go through the legislative rule making process.”
Back in Pennsylvania, Harbach says the goal is slow and steady.
Focus of PA Sports Betting Regulations Is to Protect the Public.
“We know our chief role is to protect the public,” he said. “So we’re going to make sure we have it right. We’re not rushing anything.”
Pennsylvania lawmakers made sports betting legal in 2017 pending the status of PASPA. Since the Supreme Court decision came down, state regulators have rolled out draft regulations for sports betting and opened them to public comment. Those comments — from the professional sports leagues, Penn State University, Pitt and potential gaming operators — are under review. But the comment period is an example of why regulators can’t rush — it takes time to hear from stakeholders and then open conversations based on concerns.
Harbach thinks his group, similar to Delaware, has a bit of a leg up on other states. In the recent past, the gaming commission has had to develop regulations for fantasy sports and iGaming, among other issues, making sports betting legal a sixth new set of regulations to develop, he said.
Whether it’s sports betting or iGaming, Pennsylvania regulators would rather get it right the first time.
“The potential for revenue will be there when we are ready,” Harbach said. “We’re not feeling the pressure from the legislators. They understand that we need to get it right. There are some who see it as being beneficial as being ready before the football season, but we are not [aiming] for a particular sports season.”
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A $100,000 bet has been placed. A $1 million “profit” has been made. And about $7 million has been bet.
Yep, Delaware has hit it big.
Today marks the one-month anniversary of legal sports betting in the state and Delaware Lottery Games director Vernon Kirk couldn’t be happier. Delaware Sports Betting Bringing in More Than Expected
“It’s obviously pretty exciting, but we’re doing well,” he told Sports Handle. “Maybe even a little bit better than the percentages that we expected.”
Not a bad deal for the first state outside of Nevada to accept full-fledged legal sports bets since the United States Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA)on May 14.
The state’s fiscal numbers were due on June 24, according to Kirk. And those numbers revealed that bettors in Delaware had placed approximately $7 million in bets with $6 million paid out to winners, and a $1 million “profit” to cover the likes of vendor fees, computer fees, risk management, commissions to the racetracks, a purse increase and the state’s share.
The numbers also showed that the lion’s share of bets were placed on baseball – approximately $6 million, according to Kirk, including the first bet ever laid down in the state, a $10 wager on the Philadelphia Phillies by governor John Carney on June 5 on the hometown Philadelphia Phillies. There were also a few surprises – about $35,000 was wagered on mixed martial arts, a handful of college softball bets were placed and what Kirk described as a “surprising” amount of wagers were laid down on the World Cup.
The numbers represent 19 days of sports betting, from June 5-24. And Kirk was quick to point out that he’s quoting cash numbers, as opposed to the graded figures generally quoted in Nevada. As an example, he said, when Delaware takes a futures bet, the state counts it immediately where a Las Vegas casino would not.
Delaware Park Took State’s First $100,000 Bet
The most significant wager to date, Kirk said, was $100,000 in college football bets from a single bettor. The bets were placed at Delaware Park, and Kirk said the bettors put down the six-figure wager across multiple college football teams.
Delaware Park, located in Wilmington in the upper northern tip of the state, has done most of the sports betting business – about $5 million, according to Kirk. The casino’s proximity to Philadelphia (about a 35-minutes drive), the New Jersey border and Baltimore (just under 1 ½ hours driving) make it the most accessible casino in the country’s second-smallest state.
Kirk can’t point to any real hiccups during the first month of sports betting in the First State. The only real “glitch” may have been that casinos were a bit underprepared for the NBA Finals – the last two games of the Golden State Warriors’ 4-0 sweep – were June 6 and 8.
“We had one brief moment when we were overwhelmed on the second day,” he said. “There was a pro basketball game and Delaware Park was a little unprepared for the volume. Otherwise, I can say that we were ready.”
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Having too much business and too many people, is, of course, a good problem to have. And one that Kirk is sure will be resolved before the start of college football season in August. But he feels very strongly that Delaware was uber prepared for its moment because prior to PASPA being struck down, the state offered parlay football betting, and in 2009 was prepared to offer single-game sports betting before the courts denied it the opportunity.
“To be fair, we had an advantage,” Kirk said. “We’d been doing this for years with parlay cards. We had the infrastructure in place, so we just had to dust off the software, retrain the ticket writers at the casinos and that all went very smoothly.” The Debate Between In-Person and Remote Deposits for Mobile Betting
The state hasn’t introduced mobile betting yet, so that wasn’t a factor through the first month. Kirk’s hope is to get mobile up and running by football season. State law says that mobile betting will be limited to in-state, and mobile bettors will have to register with a casino. Whether they will have to do that in person or not is as yet undecided.
Looking forward, football season will be the ultimate challenge, and not just in terms of volume. Delaware has long offered parlay cards, but now that single-game wagering has been introduced, it will change where people place their bets. That could potentially hurt small vendors who, in the past had handled parlay cards, but will likely see a dip in business as bettors place single-game wagers at casinos.
“We may see our retailers take a hit on parlay card sales, but that can’t be helped,” Kirk said. “The casinos are much better prepared to take single-game betting and they’re better equipped to monitor” sports betting.
“I’m a little concerned about what it’s going to be like with the football. It’s going to be a whole other thing … there are going to be some very busy Saturdays and Sundays, but we’re aware of that … and we think we’re taking the right steps to make that manageable. But you know, the best laid plans of mice and men. If there are some snaggles, we should be able to sort them out.”