NFL, others move for injunction against Del. sports betting

John O'Brien Jul. 28, 2009, 3:49pm


WILMINGTON, Del. (Legal Newsline) - The NFL and four other major sports organizations are asking a federal judge to impose a "narrow" injunction against Delaware's new sports betting law.

Attorneys for the NFL, MLB, NHL, NBA and NCAA filed the motion Tuesday in their suit against Gov. Jack Markell and Wayne Lemons, the director of Delaware State Lottery Office. The sports organizations seek to stop single-game betting.

Legislation passed this year would make Delaware the fourth state -- and first east of the Mississippi River -- to allow sports betting. The NFL filed an amicus brief and participated in oral arguments before the Delaware Supreme Court, which deemed the law constitutional, in May.

The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 allowed prohibited most states from offering sports betting, but four states were grandfathered in the legislation because they had previously operated it. Delaware was one of the states.

The complaint says Delaware, though, had never offered single-game wagering during its 1976 sports lottery, which only allowed parlay bets on NFL games.

Since Delaware didn't allow single-game betting then, it shouldn't be able to now, the sports leagues say.

"Delaware has proposed, and intends to implement prior to Sept. 10, a sports-betting scheme that clearly violates the PASPA," the motion says.

"Plaintiffs seek a narrow injunction that will only enjoin defendants from offering betting schemes that go beyond the scope of the limited exception in PASPA. Plaintiffs have shown an overwhelming likelihood of success on the merits of their claim, as well as irreparable harm, a balance of hardships tipping decidedly in their favor, and that an injunction will serve the public interest.

"Accordingly, the Court should issue a preliminary injunction enjoining defendants from commencing, institution, operating and maintaining any sports lottery other than one with the specific attributes of the sports lottery conducted by Delaware in 1976."

Along with forbidding single-game betting, the injunction would also prohibit betting on any sport other than professional football.

Kenneth Nachbar of Morris, Nichols, Arsht & Tunnell wrote the motion.

"Delaware's need to generate revenue should not come at the expense of professional and amateur sports," the motion says. "Indeed, in enacting PASPA, Congress expressly rejected any argument that a state's budgetary needs could outweigh the harm associated with the expansion of betting on professional and amateur sports."

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