Sports leagues appeal decision, seek temporary ban on betting

By John O'Brien | Aug 11, 2009


WILMINGTON, Del. (Legal Newsline) - The NFL and four other major sports organization have taken their argument against Delaware's sports-betting law to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

There, they are making their 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 NFL, MLB, NHL, NBA and NCAA filed suit against Gov. Jack Markell and Wayne Lemons, the director of the State Lottery Office. Their request for a preliminary injunction against sports betting was denied last week.

"Delaware's proposed sports-betting scheme, on its face, violates the express terms of the (Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act), and does not fall within any of PASPA's exceptions," Kenneth Nachbar of Morris, Nichols, Arsht & Tunnell wrote Monday in a brief in support of the appeal.

"It would dramatically alter the status quo not only by introducing sports betting in Delaware for the first time in over 30 years, but also by expanding sports betting in the state far beyond what was conducted in 1976. Accordingly, Delaware's proposed sports lottery is unlawful."

The law will take effect in September, allowing bettors to wager on the new NFL and NCAA football seasons. A hearing on summary judgment is scheduled for Oct. 26, which would allow individuals to bet on much of the MLB postseason as well.

A trial is set for Dec. 7.

"Plaintiffs showed an overwhelming likelihood of success on the merits of their claim, as well as irreparable harm and a balance of hardships decidedly in their favor," the motion says.

PASPA, 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.

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

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