The Delaware Lottery issued a request for proposal (RFP) Thursday inviting vendors to apply for its exclusive iGaming contract through three racinos in the state, with the bonus that the contract could include online sports betting for the first time.
According to the RFP, the Lottery hopes to sign an initial five-year agreement with a primary vendor for an “internet wagering system and services solution” with several components, including “games from multiple vendors, including casino table games, video lottery games, poker, bingo, and keno — with the option for the Lottery to add internet sports betting.”
The Lottery said vendors should apply by mid-February and wants to hear presentations from interested parties in March. A primary vendor is expected to be selected in April, with a go-live date no later than November 1, 2023.
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Future of 888 in Delaware Unclear
888 Holdings currently holds the Lottery’s exclusive iGaming contract, providing real money online casino gaming and poker for three racinos in the state — Bally’s Dover (formerly Dover Downs), Delaware Park, and Harrington Raceway. The UK-based company provides each racino with its own branded skin. 888 has never launched online sports betting.
The Lottery first awarded a contract to 888 in 2013. Their partnership was last renewed in 2020 for an additional two years.
Questions about when 888’s contract officially expired or whether the Lottery intended to issue an RFP at some point went unanswered last fall.
Thursday’s issuance raises questions about the future of 888 in Delaware. The company could be interested in applying for the license, and the Lottery could ultimately decide to reissue the contract to 888.
A spokesperson for 888 could not be reached for comment Thursday.
Online Sports Betting Looking More Likely
Although Delaware has had legally regulated online casino gaming since October 2013 and added online poker one month later, it has never had online sports betting. The Lottery appears set on changing that.
In its RFP, which totals 164 pages, the Lottery said it seeks an “internet wagering system and services solution” with several components, including “games from multiple vendors including casino table games, video lottery games, poker, bingo, and keno — with the option for the Lottery to add internet sports betting.”
A subsection of the RFP titled “Internet Sports Betting” adds that the Lottery “is seeking a full-service offering to include all of the core operations sports-betting capabilities.” It also lists the primary vendor’s “internet sports betting” responsibilities.
But online sports betting doesn’t appear to be a given, either.
Another section of the RFP says online sports betting could start when an agreement with the primary vendor goes live but also added that it could launch “at some point in the future or not at all.”
Lottery May Consider Sports Betting Operators
According to the Lottery, all vendor applicants must have one or more live clients in the US. They also must have provided products or services for at least one year.
The Lottery added that primary vendors must also have offered, either directly or indirectly, online poker, casino gaming, sports betting, video lottery, keno, or bingo in a US jurisdiction for at least two years. Primary vendors must have also offered at least 30 games or online sports betting for a minimum of one year.
But the requirements may have inadvertently suggested that the Lottery intends to give equal consideration to selecting a primary vendor that has previously been more focused on online sports betting than casino or poker.
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Selection of Vendors Planned by Spring
According to the RFP, the Lottery plans to have its vendors signed by spring.
Vendors have until February 3 to submit written questions to the Lottery, which said it would publish the answers one week later (February 10). All applications are due on February 17.
The Lottery said potential primary and game vendors are scheduled to give presentations from March 1 through March 15. Final recommendations will be issued to the Lottery’s director on March 22. A notice of intent to start negotiations with vendors is scheduled to be published on March 24.