Pro Leagues Want Quick Ruling on Delaware Betting

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DOVER, Del. (Associated Press) -- Attorneys for professional sports leagues and the NCAA asked a federal appeals court Monday to decide quickly whether Delaware's plan to allow betting on games should be halted before a trial can be held.

The leagues and the NCAA are appealing a decision by a federal judge to refuse their request for a preliminary injunction, which would have prevented the betting from beginning early next month.

In a written opinion explaining his ruling, Chief District Judge Gregory Sleet said the leagues had not met the criteria for an injunction, including that they would suffer irreparable harm.

Sleet set a Dec. 7 trial date on the leagues' claims the sports betting plan violates a federal ban on sports gambling, as well as Delaware's state constitution.

In a filing to the Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia, the leagues claim they will win the case, and that Sleet failed to adequately address the issue of irreparable harm. Without an expedited appeal, attorneys for the leagues wrote, the leagues "will have to endure months of sports betting, which is clearly in violation of federal law."

Court documents indicate attorneys for the state are opposed to an expedited handling of the case.

"This was not unexpected," said Joe Rogalsky, a spokesman for Gov. Jack Markell. "We believe Judge Sleet made the correct decision to reject the request for an injunction."

The 1992 federal ban on sports betting exempted four states, including Delaware, that already offered sports gambling, but the leagues contend that Delaware's plan goes beyond what is allowed by the exemption.

Unlike its earlier, failed attempt at sports betting in 1976, Delaware's plan would allow betting on single games, and on sports other than professional football.

The state Supreme Court ruled in May that the sports betting plan does not conflict with Delaware's constitution as long as chance is the predominant factor in winning or losing. The justices refused, however, to decide the constitutionality of single-game bets.

The leagues argue skill would outweigh chance in single-game betting, and that such wagering would violate the state constitution.


Randall Chase reporting

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