Delaware could have legal sports betting by the end of the week.
The state Senate, on a vote of 17-2, passed a bill legalizing all types of sports betting on Tuesday and governor Jack Markell plans to sign the measure this week.
The NFL, in what could be a precursor to a lawsuit, has already filed a legal brief against the measure with the state Supreme Court.
A similar bill failed last week in the House when state casinos lobbied against passage because it called for the state to take a larger share of casino revenue. But Markell, looking to address a projected shortfall of more than $600 million in the coming fiscal year, pressed for a compromise and got it.
"We need to move forward with laying the groundwork to implement a sports lottery as soon as possible," Joe Rogalsky, the governor's spokesman, wrote in an email to the Wilmington News Journal. "The governor is signing the bill this week so that the foundation can begun to be laid."
The bill calls for the state lottery director to develop rules for a lottery allowing people 21 and older to wager on athletic events, except collegiate or amateur events involving a Delaware team. Sports betting would be allowed only at the state's three existing slot machine casinos. Table games will also be allowed.
Delaware, along with Nevada, Oregon and Montana, are the only states that had sports betting laws on the books when Congress passed the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, which banned states from being in the bookmaking business. A group of New Jersey officials are suing the federal government to overturn the ban.