NFL, other sports leagues aim to limit Delaware betting

The NFL recently filed a complaint in federal court to prevent the state of Delaware to move forward with with single-game sports betting. (Associated Press)

The NFL filed a complaint in federal court to prevent the state of Delaware from moving forward with with single-game sports betting. (Associated Press)

The three other major pro sports leagues, as well as the NCAA, joined the NFL today in filing a complaint in federal court to try to prevent the state of Delaware from moving forward with single-game sports betting.

The NFL takes this matter very seriously, and it is considered to be of extreme importance within the league office. The NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and NCAA are asserting that the state’s plans for this sort of wagering as part of the Delaware Sports Lottery violates federal law. A federal law was passed in 1992 that prohibits states from operating a sports-outcome based lottery, with four exceptions: Delaware, Nevada, Montana and Oregon.

Those states were grandfathered in, as they had previously had legalized sports betting. According to the league, that exemption to the law only applies if the states adopt the same “wagering scheme” they had in place from 1976 to 1990. Delaware had a 1976 sports lottery, which was limited to “parlay” bets of three or more games, and thus the NCAA and the sports leagues maintain that only such a parlay scheme should be legal now.

The sports leagues issued a press release today, stating: “The leagues and the NCAA recognize that Delaware has many pressing economic issues, but more legalized single-game wagering presents a direct threat to the integrity of their games and the long-term health of their sports.”

The NFL certainly took note of the NBA’s officiating scandal, as well as match-fixing problems in European tennis and soccer. The league’s general thinking is also that lotteries are essentially a game of chance, and that picking, or influencing, one particular game leaves much less to chance than does having to correctly guess the outcomes of multiple games going on concurrently.

The complaint was filed in a Wilmington, Del., court today.

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