Delaware House Approves Revised Gambling Bill

Written by:
Payton
Published on:
May/08/2009

USA Today reports that the Delaware legislature took the first step toward establishing sports gambling in the state, approving a bill early Friday morning that was opposed by every major sports league in the USA along with the NCAA.

Days after a similar bill failed to garner enough votes in the state's house of representatives, the reworked bill which gave some concessions to the operators of the state's three casinos - passed by a 30-4 margin. The bill still needs to be approved by the senate then signed by Gov. Jack Markell, who is looking to a sports lottery to help alleviate the state's budget crisis.

"My administration worked with the leadership in the house and senate to get this done," Markell said in a statement. "We never stopped fighting to do what was right for the taxpayers of Delaware.

Representatives from the casinos described the bill as just as bad as the initial proposal, but Markell said the new bill addresses all the issues. The casinos will be allowed to eventually install table games - only video poker and other electronic gaming are allowed now - and they will get an even split in the sports lottery revenue, up from a smaller chunk the original legislation offered.

Delaware, Oregon, Nevada and Montana were grandfathered in under a 1992 federal law that precludes states from establishing sports gambling. Delaware had a sports lottery briefly in the 1970s.

Still to be resolved is what exact form - from single-game betting to parlays - the lottery will take. Markell asked the State Supreme Court for their input on which format complies with state law, but his office received a response last week from the court saying it could not rule on the constitutionality of sports betting until after the bill passed.

Markell again asked for an opinion, saying he expects the legislation to be approved by May 14.

"From an NCAA perspective, we oppose all kinds of sports wagering," NCAA spokesman Stacey Osburn said. "Sports wagering is a problem, not a solution (to budget woes) from our perspective."

The NCAA met with Delaware officials in March, according to Osburn. If the bill becomes law, the NCAA would bar the state's universities from holding NCAA championships.

Such a ban led Oregon to abandon its sports lottery three years ago, giving the state the ability to play host to NCAA men's basketball tournament games.

Delaware lacks the facilities to host major Division I postseason contests.

 http://www.usatoday.com/sports/college/2009-05-08-delaware-gambling-bill_N.htm

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