The National Football League, Major League Baseball, National Hockey League, National Basketball Association and NCAA jointly filed a lawsuit Friday in an attempt to stop Delaware from offering single-game betting on pro and college sports.
It is the second legal challenge at striking down the betting law, enacted in May. Within weeks after governor Jack Markell signed the legislation, the NFL argued before the state's Supreme Court that the law was unconstitutional, but all five justices sided with the state.
The latest lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Wilmington against Markell and lottery director Wayne Lemons, contends Delaware's "scheme" violated the federal 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act and the state constitution. The leagues plan to seek an injunction Monday to stop the state from implementing single bets on pro football, and any bets on college or other professional sports. Delaware officials are confident of their legal standing and say the state plans to offer wagering on football by September.
Delaware, along with Nevada, Oregon and Montana, are the only states that had sports betting laws on the books in 1992 when Congress passed PASPA, which banned states from being in the bookmaking business. Delaware officials finally decided to aggressively use their free pass this spring to help address a projected state budget shortfall of more than $600 million. New Jersey, which authorized casino gambling in 1978, took notice.
Officials from that state filed a federal lawsuit against the Justice Department, seeking to overturn the PASPA ban on sports betting in other states. New Jersey governor Jon Corzine has backed the lawsuit, saying his state could make as much as $100 million taxing winnings alone.
There is also pressure being applied in Washington. Utah senator Orrin Hatch and Arizona counterpart Jon Kyl sent letters last week to Eric Holder, urging the U.S. attorney general to uphold PASPA. Three congressmen, including Heath Shuler, the former Tennessee and NFL quarterback, also sent letters to Holder.