Third Circuit's sports-betting decision will stand

John O'Brien May 3, 2010, 11:12am


WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) - The U.S. Supreme Court will not hear the state of Delaware's appeal of a ruling that prevents gambling on games in sports organizations other than the NFL.

The justices denied Delaware's petition Monday without explanation. Attorneys for the State had filed 106 pages with the court, hoping to reverse a U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit decision that limited the lottery to multi-game parlay bets on NFL games only.

Gov. Jack Markell and State Lottery Office Director Wayne Lemons had asked U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito for an extension to file their petition, and Alito complied.

The decision was entered by a U.S. District Court judge after a three-judge panel of the Third Circuit ordered it. The Third Circuit then denied Delaware's request for a rehearing.

Delaware's attorneys wrote in their petition for an extension that the state "is continuing to confront a budgetary emergency."

"This case presents important questions of federalism and preemption in statutory interpretation," the petition says.

The NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB and NCAA filed suit against the State in federal court after the Delaware Supreme Court ruled a proposed sports-betting law constitutional.

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.

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 said.

A three-judge panel on the Third Circuit agreed with the sports leagues' arguments and remanded the matter to U.S. District Judge Gregory Sleet, who signed an order consistent with its findings.

From Legal Newsline: Reach John O'Brien by e-mail at

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