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Sports Leagues Sue Delaware to Block Sports Betting

Written by:
Guest
Published on:
Jul/24/2009

WASHINGTON - The four major pro sports leagues and the NCAA sued Delaware Friday, seeking to block the state from implementing 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 NCAA said in a lawsuit filed in federal court in Delaware.

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

Under the '92 law, the leagues and NCAA said, a state like Delaware may only reintroduce the kind of sports betting that it had offered between 1976 and 1990.

They also argue that Delaware's plan is illegal because it allows betting on all sports, going beyond the professional football betting program that constituted the state's brief failed experiment in 1976.

The suit was filed by Major League Baseball, the NFL, the NBA, the NHL and the NCAA. The NFL has led the effort against Delaware's plans, consistent with its long-held opposition to gambling on its games.

A spokesman for Delaware Gov. Jack Markell, Joe Rogalsky, said in a statement that the sports betting plan "will help pay for our core government services like our teachers and police and will also create new jobs in our state."

He said that the state invited the NFL to sit down and share their concerns.

"They decided instead to sue," Rogalsky said.

NFL Vice President Joe Browne said that the league is sensitive to economic issues in Delaware and other states. He said that the NFL wrote to Markell on April 7, telling him the league would be willing to discuss ways to help close the state's budget gap - "short of using our games as betting vehicles."

According to Browne, Markell responded five weeks later "that he was signing legislation that day which, in effect, uses our games as betting vehicles."

In his statement, Rogalsky also noted that the state asked for an advisory opinion from the Delaware Supreme Court.

In May, that court ruled that the state law allowing sports betting didn't conflict with the state constitution, but the justices also said, "we cannot opine on the constitutionality of single game bets."

State officials hope to have the sports betting in place for this year's NFL regular season in September.

 

 

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