Del. SC says sports betting bill OK

John O'Brien May 28, 2009, 4:39pm

DOVER, Del. (Legal Newsline) - Despite the efforts of the National Football League, the Delaware Supreme Court ruled Thursday that legislation approving sports betting does not interfere with the state law.

Delaware's justices decided that betting on sports must contain a predominant element of chance and that the legislation does not give an improper amount of power to the lottery director in a 21-page opinion requested by Gov. Jack Markell.

Markell has already signed the legislation, which would make Delaware the fourth state to allow sports betting and the first east of the Mississippi River. Nevada, Oregon and Montana already permit it.

"In our opinion, the sports lottery... does not impermissibly delegate legislative authority to the lottery direction," the opinion says.

"We further conclude that the Delaware Constitution allows lotteries to involve an element of skill, but only where chance predominates. Without specific details of the exact nature of an interplay of sports bettings options, however, all that we can currently opine is that the lottery director's designed games must assure that chance is the predominant factor."

The NFL filed an amicus brief opposing the legislation and participated in oral arguments last week.

"Regardless of whether the justices decide to adopt the 'pure chance' or 'chance as a dominant factor' rule (or some variation), in order to even begin the debate about whether a particular sports lottery game meets the applicable rule and is therefore constitutional, this Court must necessarily inquire into the particulars of the game being proposed," wrote Kenneth Nachbar of Morris Nichols Arsht & Tunnell in Wilmington, Del.

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