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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Delaware: the true state of sports betting

It's official: the 2009 August decision by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals that left Delaware with only parlay bets on NFL games will stand. What does this mean for American sports bettors?

1. Bettors in Delaware remain restricted to minimum three team parlay wagers in the NFL. This is similar to the 1976 sports lottery which lasted just one year in Delaware. The 2009-10 NFL season brought in a modest number of sports bettors into Delaware casinos but history suggests without the presence of single game wagers there won't be enough traffic to sustain will eventually

2. The Delaware ruling will serves as a significant precedent for other states hoping to pass future legislation allowing sports betting. Nevada remains the only legitimate state in the US which allows sports betting (Oregon recently revoked their status and the sparsely populated Montana's sports lotteries are rarely used). Rival states concerned about losing gaming revenue to Delaware kept a close eye on the results of the federal appeals court ruling. Had Delaware won it's appeal a domino effect of state lawsuits would have followed (starting with New Jersey and New York) and likely opened the doors to sports betting across the country.

3. Professional sports leagues have flexed their muscles in a hypocritical effort to stop legalized betting. The NFL, NBA, and NHL filed an injunction in Washington challenging the Delaware sports lottery. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell spearheaded the opposition, claiming that "State promoted gambling not only adds the pressure on our coaches and players, but creates suspicion and cynicism toward every on-the-field mistake."

The consensus among professional sports leagues is that gambling threatens the integrity of competition. If this is true why are stadiums plastered with local Casino and gambling-related advertisements? Why are there countless online poker and indian casino commercials during their broadcasts? How can these partnerships not create the same suspicion and cynicism that commissioner Goodell claims to fear?

The reality is that leagues such as the NFL are wary of state-sponsored wagering because they have no way of regulating the money coming in. Huge corporations such as the NFL simply have nothing to gain by allowing a cash strapped Delaware the opportunity to raise funds for he higher purpose of trying to put a dent in it's ten figure deficit.

So what does this ultimately mean for sports bettors? It means they'll have to continue to navigate through a minefield of crooked locals, opportunistic middle men payment processors, and scheming overseas bookmakers. It's inevitable that Americans will continue to bet on sports regardless of legislation. The real travesty is the uncertainty that honest bettors must continue to face due to the lack of domestic regulation protecting their funds.


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