Delaware Sports Betting Appeal Denied

Written by:
Jagajeet Chiba
Published on:

A federal appeals court rejected the state of Delaware's efforts to legalize sports betting as predicted by last week

Attorneys for the state argued that a three-judge panel of the Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals abused its discretion and ignored Supreme Court precedent in restricting sports betting lottery to multi-game wagers on NFL football.

The attorneys asked for a rehearing before the full appeals court in Philadelphia, but the court rejected the request in a one-sentence ruling Tuesday.

Officials in Gov. Jack Markell's office said they have not ruled out a further appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, but that such a move is unlikely.

The NFL and other professional sports leagues filed a lawsuit against the state this summer seeking to block Delaware from offering sports betting.

Delaware's sports betting plan "would irreparably harm professional and amateur sports by fostering suspicion and skepticism that individual plays and final scores of games may have been influenced by factors other than honest athletic competition," the leagues and the NCAA say in a lawsuit filed in federal district court in Delaware.

Congress banned sports betting in 1992 but grandfathered four states -- Delaware, Nevada, Montana and Oregon -- that already had offered it. But the lawsuit argues that Delaware's plan to allow single-game betting would violate the legislation because the state has never previously offered single-game betting.

Under the '92 law, the leagues and the NCAA said, a state like Delaware may only reintroduce sports betting if it had been conducted between 1976 and 1990.

"Obviously, we are disappointed with today's ruling," Michael Barlow, Delaware Gov. Jack Markell's chief legal counsel, said in statement. "We realize that it is rare that the 3rd Circuit will hear cases with all 12 active judges, but this was an important issue for the State of Delaware and we thought the State should have a chance to make its case at trial."

Despite the restrictions, Delaware officials have been pleased with the early response to parlay betting. Gamblers wagered $316,828 in Week 2 of the NFL season, a 23% increase over Week 1 and the number of parlay cards sold rose 44% to 20,946, according to numbers released by the Delaware's Department of Finance. Week 3 statistics will be released as soon as Thursday.

"It is important to remember that the NFL tried to shut down Delaware's sports lottery entirely, but today Delaware has the only legal sports wagering east of the Rocky Mountains," Barlow said. "The sports lottery has already - in three weeks - had more wagered than the entire 1976 Delaware sports lottery season."


Jagajeet Chiba, 

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