Small Group Testing Del. New Online Gambling in Soft Launch - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Small Group Testing Del. New Online Gambling in Soft Launch

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DOVER, Del. (WBOC) - A few dozen people are currently helping the state of Delaware work out the kinks of its new online gaming system. The gaming websites went live Thursday.  The 25 to 75 people are part of the soft launch that will eventually lead to the full-public opening.

It's real, live, money gameplay for this group of gamblers. And every penny, quarter, dollar they bet moves the system one step closer to being ready for the masses.

"You give it a shake down cruise with limited participation and very close monitoring, making sure everything is working properly," said Vernon Kirk, director of the Delaware Lottery.

Kirk says a soft launch is how Nevada started online gaming and how New Jersey will soon start it. It is also the way Delaware has launched other new gambling products.

"If there is a problem, we can step in really quick and fix it before it gets to the general public," he said.

Ed Sutor, CEO of Dover Downs Hotel and Casino, thinks the soft launch provides an important preparatory opportunity.

"There's an old adage: you only have one chance to make a good first impression," he said. "We want to make a good first impression. So, I like the way the state is approaching this - crawl, walk, run.

Recent news at the national level - the problem-riddled launch of the healthcare.gov site - shows how important working out a website's kinks ahead of time is. Kirk says the soft launch plan was in place long before the health care website issue popped up.

"I won't say we're going to be any more careful, because we were going to be careful. But we're going to be careful. We just want to be cautious put out the best product available."

Kirk says the sites will open to the full public after this initial phase when there's confidence they're ready. And he says if players find issues, he's hopeful they'll be small ones that staff can quickly respond to and fix.

Kirk says it looks like November 8 will be the full launch day. But it could happen before or after then depending on how the system fares in this initial trial.

Once it is fully operational the website will still only be useable by people playing inside the first state.

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