Friday, July 24, 2009

Delaware Faces Lawsuit Over Sports Betting


In the 1950s, men routinely emptied their bank accounts to go gambling


Having been to Delaware, I can assure you--sports betting will not save the First State. I don't know what will save it. Swim-A-Longs with Dolphins? Fully Nude Strip Clubs? State Line Fireworks Booths?


Back in May, I told you Sports Betting Will Ruin Everything and I laid out my reasons for being against the practice of betting on games. Fans will upend their lives and pawn their belongings just to bet on a Jets-Bills or Redskins-Giants game. There is no moderation in the life of a professional football fan, sir. None.


Today, the four major sports, yes, they were kind and they allowed the NHL to join in, plus the NCAA, filed a lawsuit against Delaware. Methinks Delaware is going to lose:



The four major pro sports leagues and the NCAA sued Delaware Friday, seeking to block the state from implementing sports betting.

Delaware's sports betting plan "would irreparably harm professional and amateur sports by fostering suspicion and skepticism that individual plays and final scores of games may have been influenced by factors other than honest athletic competition," the leagues and NCAA say in a lawsuit filed in federal district court in Delaware.

Congress banned sports betting in 1992 but grandfathered four states - Delaware, Nevada, Montana and Oregon - that had already offered it. But the lawsuit argues that Delaware's plan to allow single-game betting would violate the legislation because Delaware has never offered single-game betting before.

Under the '92 law, the leagues and NCAA said, a state like Delaware may only reintroduce sports betting if it had been conducted between 1976 and 1990.

They also argue 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.



Now, depending on how the judges view that, it could definitely cut against Delaware. I would argue that, in the time frame of 1976 to 1990, there were far fewer methods of betting. Using a credit card was available then, but the advent of the Internet, texting, wireless technology, and the expansion of the major sports franchises, not to mention the creation of the Bowl Championship Series, means that limiting precedent in this case won't fly. I think the case will be won by looking at why Delaware is trying to do this--Delaware, like virtually all of the other states, is broke. It's trying to raise revenue.


The four major sports, and the NCAA, realize this, but they're afraid of losing money as well. A few gambling scandals have hit in recent years--NBA, I still don't watch you because I'm convinced your games are rigged by phony referees--and baseball is still reeling from a steroids scandal. The NCAA, especially, is vulnerable because of the influence of alumni and the fanatical fan base found in places like the SEC and the Big East (but, really, everywhere, even in the Mountain West).


The fans will bankrupt themselves betting on games--no one is more certain of their ability to win some mad money than an Eagles fan that smells blood in the water when the hapless Cowboys come to town. Now that Tony Romo is facing an NFL season without the lovely Jessica Simpson there to keep him grounded, he will likely throw seven or eight interceptions per half when he faces the Eagles.

The societal breakdown of gambling is such that you really want to keep it in Las Vegas, and let them deal with the fallout. If you turn the East Coast into a sports betting paradise, with flocks of erstwhile experts rushing in and out of Delaware to place bets on single games, well, all I can tell you is that one fixed NFL game would bring everything crashing down all around us. Many years ago, Hollywood gave us a pretty good documentary on this issue, and I cannot give you a better example of the evils of sports betting.

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