WASHINGTON -- The four major pro sports leagues and the NCAA
asked a federal judge Tuesday for a preliminary injunction to
prevent Delaware from implementing its sports betting plan.
With the motion, filed in federal court in Delaware, the leagues
provided declarations from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and NBA
commissioner David Stern outlining their fears of how their sports
would be affected.
The leagues argued that Delaware's sports betting would result
in harms "that cannot be remedied by subsequent monetary
Congress banned sports betting in 1992 while allowing it in four
states -- Delaware, Nevada, Montana and Oregon -- that had already
been offering it. The leagues and NCAA argue that Delaware's plan
to allow single-game betting would violate the legislation because
Delaware has never offered single-game betting before.
Under the 1992 law, they argued, a state like Delaware may only
reintroduce the kind of sports betting that it had offered between
1976 and 1990. They also argued that Delaware's plan is illegal
because it allows betting on all sports, going beyond the
professional football betting program that constituted the state's
brief failed experiment in 1976.
The plaintiffs, which include Major League Baseball and the NHL,
asked the judge to prevent any sports betting plan that allows
single-game betting as well as any betting on sports other than pro
Michael Barlow, legal counsel to Delaware Gov. Jack Markell,
said in a statement: "After reviewing the latest challenge from
the NFL and other sports leagues, it is clear some form of sports
betting will go forward in Delaware. We are now left with the
technical legal issue of the type of bets that can be offered. The
NFL has had months to bring this case and chose to wait, so I am
not sure it is fair to make everyone scramble to resolve these
issues before the season starts."
State officials hope to have the sports betting in place for
this year's NFL regular season in September.
In his declaration, Goodell says the spread of sports betting,
including Delaware's plan, threatens the integrity and public
confidence in NFL games.
When gambling is freely permitted, he said, "normal incidents
of the game such as bad snaps, dropped passes, turnovers, penalty
flags and play calling inevitably will fuel speculation, distrust
and accusations of point-shaving and game-fixing."
"State sponsorship of sports gambling also trades unfairly on
the property and goodwill of the NFL," he added.
Stern of the NBA made similar points, saying that missed baskets
and referees' calls will be seen through a "prism of the impact on
the betting line," rather than team and individual performances.
The latest filings came a few days after the leagues and NCAA
filed a lawsuit challenging the state's plan.
Also Tuesday, Delaware's House majority leader said that the NFL
and other leagues were engaging in "blatant hypocrisy," because
of a host of connections between pro sports and gambling entities.
In a letter to Goodell, obtained by The Associated Press,
Democrat Rep. Peter Schwartzkopf, the lead House sponsor of
legislation bringing sports betting back to Delaware, mentioned:
• The annual Las Vegas Bowl college football game.
• The Maloof family, which owns both the NBA's Sacramento Kings and the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas.
• A marketing and promotional partnership between the New York Mets baseball team and casino company Harrah's Entertainment at the
Mets' new ballpark, CitiField.
• The NHL holding its annual awards ceremony at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas.
• Promotion of gambling on NFL games on the Web sites of networks that broadcast the games. Schwartzkopf's spokesman cited point
spreads and game picks made on the sites.
NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said in an e-mail that the league's
contracts with its broadcast carriers prohibit references to
betting on the outcome of games during NFL telecasts.
"Our network partners know that we do not condone any NFL point
spread references on other programming on the multiple platforms
that they operate," McCarthy said. "But, just as we cannot
prevent newspapers or TV and radio stations in Delaware from
carrying point spreads or gambling information, we cannot exercise
editorial control over those other non-NFL network platforms."
In a statement, the NCAA said that it does not sponsor or
administer any postseason bowl games in the Division I Bowl
"Our policy does not allow NCAA championships in the state of
Nevada or any other state where sports betting is allowed," the
The other leagues did not respond to requests for comment