Delawareans Line Up Outside to Bet At NASCAR Event

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The NASCAR action at Dover International Speedway Sunday wasn’t only on the oval. Several hundred people lined up about at a sports betting tent at the Delaware racetrack where wagers were accepted on the Gander Outdoors 400 taking place on the “Monster Mile.”  It’s the only track to allow betting on its property.

According to the Delaware lottery, the money bet on NASCAR in the state last week ($52,629) was close to as much bet on the sport ($53,286) since June 5, when legal betting commenced.

Bettors could wager on who won – Chase Elliott -- plus several prop bets including how many caution flags would fly, average speed, how many lead changes would occur, who would be in the lead on certain laps and head-to-head matchups, such as would Kyle Busch finish ahead of Kevin Harvick.

The betting kiosk, emblazoned with a sign reading “Sports Betting: Vegas Style,” also took bets on the MLB playoffs, both NFL and NCAA football games and mixed martial arts.

To say betting was enthusiastic would be an understatement.  The Delaware State News reported it looked more like a horse race than a NASCAR race – likely with more trucker hats rather than Kentucky Derby-style fascinators.

John Hensley, general manager and senior director of sports betting at Dover Downs, stood nearby taking questions and assisting fans.

“From a motorsports standpoint none of this has been about a revenue generator, it’s just one more tool for them to have an additional enhancement to the property,” Hensley told the State News. “I think (speedway officials) have been quoted that it just puts that ticket in your hand and you’ve just got one more reason to watch a little bit longer.

“It engages the fan, attaches them to the brand and attaches them to what Dover International Speedway is already doing. How can you go wrong?”

With a flagging fan base and TV ratings tied to the retirement of popular drivers, NASCAR promoters are hopeful that legalized betting will bring people and sponsors back to the sport.

Also in Dover over the weekend, NASCAR president Steve Phelps said guidelines on betting would be formalized and implemented next year.

Right now, there are no rules on whether drivers can bet for or against themselves or a betting policy for team owners or the pit crew.

“I imagine we’ll get there,” he told the Associated Press. “The way the rulebook looks today, I think the teams and the drivers understand what it looks like today, and I think we’ll clarify for ’19 with more specific language in it.

"For right now, there'll be betting here. … We'll study and see how that goes, but I think we'll have some rules in place for sponsorship, for what betting looks like, and continue to see what happens in the landscape overall."

Phelps also said rules could pique interest in NASCAR sponsorship that has waned.

“I think sponsorship will definitely… gravitate to NASCAR as most sponsors do because of the return on the investment they can get because of the visibility that it has.”

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