Delaware Sports Betting Proposal Defeated in Legislature

Don QuixoteContributor IMay 6, 2009

LONDON - AUGUST 14:  A man places a bet at the Tote at Walthamstow Greyhound Stadium on August 14, 2008 in London, England. The  famous Walthamstow Greyhound Stadium is set to run its last race on saturday night after 75 years of racing. The east London track which has hosted famous people from Winston Churchill to Brad Pitt, has been sold to property developers due to falling profits and poor attendance.  (Photo by Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images)

A proposal by Delaware Gov. Jack Markell to legalize sports betting in the state was narrowly defeated in the Delaware House of Representatives Tuesday night. The bill—with 23 votes in favor, 15 against, and three abstentions—fell two votes shy of the three-fifths majority necessary to pass.

Markell proposed legalizing parlay bets on sports at the state’s three racetrack/casinos, but also called for the state to receive a larger share of the casinos’ slot machine revenue. Though the casinos have long been advocates for legalized sports wagering, all three came out against Markell’s bill, claiming that the lost revenue would bankrupt them.

According to estimates by its supporters, the proposal would have generated $55 million for Delaware, which like many states is facing a budget shortfall due to the recession. Markell said that he would continue working with legislators to get a sports betting bill passed.

Delaware is just one of four states—along with Nevada, Montana, and Oregon—allowed by the federal government to legalize sports gambling, having been granted exemptions under the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act. Markell had asked the state Supreme Court for an opinion on the constitutionality of his proposal, but the court refused to issue an opinion until after a bill was passed.

Legalized sports betting in Delaware would likely have nationwide ramifications for the U.S. gambling industry. If sports wagering had succeeded in Delaware, other states—particularly neighboring states—would be encouraged to push for the right to legalize it.

“A state will usually start out with very strict regulations,” said University of Nevada-Reno economics professor Mark W. Nichols to The Baltimore Sun. “Then a nearby state sees its residents traveling to that neighboring state to gamble and that serves as a justification to legalize gambling in that other state.”

In neighboring New Jersey, state Sen. Raymond Lesniak filed a lawsuit in March seeking to overturn PAPSA, arguing that it unconstitutionally discriminates against the 46 states where sports gambling is prohibited.

In a press conference announcing the lawsuit, Lesniak declared, “This federal law deprives the state of New Jersey of over $100 million of yearly revenues, as well as depriving our casinos, racetracks, and internet operators of over $500 million of gross income…PASPA represents a substantial intrusion into states' rights and restricts the fundamental right of states to raise revenue to fund critical state programs.”


Full article published at findingDulcinea.