Third Circuit in rush to rule on injunction in sports-betting case

John O'Brien Aug. 17, 2009, 1:00pm


WILMINGTON, Del. (Legal Newsline) - The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has agreed to speed up part of the appeal of five major sports organizations that are challenging Delaware's new sports-betting law.

The NFL, MLB, NHL, NBA and NCAA are worried that the new law, which takes effect in September, will harm the integrity of their games, and had also asked for a preliminary injunction while the issue is sorted out.

Judge Gregory Sleet denied that request Aug. 10.

The sports organizations are making a case against single-game bets in the state, which decided earlier this year to revive sports betting.

The state Supreme Court ruled in May the proposed law was constitutional, upsetting the NFL, which participated in oral arguments before the Court.

The sports organizations filed suit against Gov. Jack Markell and Wayne Lemons, the director of the State Lottery Office.

The law will allow bettors to wager on the new NFL and NCAA football seasons, but a Third Circuit three-judge panel agreed to complete briefing in the preliminary injunction matter this week.

Also ordered was an Aug. 24 hearing on the appeal in Philadelphia.

The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, enacted in 1992, 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 and would become the only state east of the Mississippi River to allow it.

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.

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

A trial in the case is scheduled for December.

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