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The NFL's Position On Sports Betting In Delaware

We’ve obtained from NFL spokesman Greg Aiello a copy of the brief submitted by the NFL to the Delaware Supreme Court, and we’ve read all of it carefully.
OK, we’ve skimmed all of it carefully.
OK, we’ve skimmed most of it.
OK, we’ve skimmed the first page and the last page.  But we got the gist of it.
Here’s the context.  Delaware thinks that its proposed sports betting scheme will be more likely to withstand subsequent court challenges if Delaware gets its Supreme Court to sign off on the process before the sports betting scheme is launched.
The league explains that it is opposing the Delaware sports betting scheme because “[s]ports lotteries threaten the integrity of NFL games and are grossly inconsistent with the values of the NFL.”
Here are the league’s arguments, in a nutshell.
First, the NFL contends that the question of whether sports gambling violates the Delaware Constitution is something that cannot be resolved easily or quickly.  Article II, Section 17 of the Delaware Constitution permits only a lottery — and a lottery is premised on chance, not skill.  The league points out that, in past cases arising in other states involving the “chance” versus “skill” debate, decisions have been made based on the development of a significant “factual record” (i.e., hours of droning witnesses and acres of dead trees and other stuff on which informed decisions can be made, if the folks digesting the information can stay awake long enough to make a decision).
Second, the NFL contends that the Delaware Supreme Court can’t offer a sufficiently binding and reliable opinion on whether the proposed sports betting scheme will violate federal law.
In 1992, the U.S. government essentially slammed the door on the expansion of sports gambling, banning all such betting and exempting only those states that already had allowed sports wagering and those states that had done so at some point between 1976 and 1990.
Delaware believes that a sports lottery game used for a brief time in 1976 fits within the exception to the federal law (and which failed miserably because gamblers were winning too consistently).  But, as the NFL points out, there simply is no way for the Delaware Supreme Court to know what will happen if/when the feds decide to explore the proposed Delaware sports gambling initiative.
Third, the NFL argues that the Delaware Supreme Court can determine prospectively that sports betting necessarily involves skill, and thus violates the Delaware Constitution.
Frankly, we can’t imagine anyone taking the position that sports betting doesn’t involve skill.  Some think the betting line is aimed at making the picking of a winner and a loser the equivalent of guessing whether a coin will come up heads or tails.  In reality, the betting line is aimed at ensuring equal “action” on each team, with the bets canceling each other out and the house’s profit coming from the vigorish — the eleventh dollar that is bet in order to win ten of them.
So if a bettor possesses the ability to spot the situations in which the line is affected by the inaccurate perceptions of the masses, a bettor can push the odds in his or her favor by spotting those situations in which the line doesn’t reflect the realistic difference between the teams.
Finally, the NFL argues that the potential validation of the sports betting scheme by the Delaware Supreme Court disrupts the balance of power among the executive, legislative, and judicial branch by giving the highest court in the state a role in the development of legislation that, typically, a court interprets and applies after the other two branches have made it law.
Though we still aren’t sure whether the NFL should care about any of this, given that people are going to gamble regardless of whether it’s legal, we think that the NFL is right on this one.  Sports betting is based on skill, and thus the proposed sports betting scheme would violate the Delaware Constitution.

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20 Responses to “The NFL's Position On Sports Betting In Delaware”
  1. iheartjesus says: May 16, 2009 5:48 PM

    The only thing I took out of this whole post was the “acres of dead trees” comment. I like you more and more everyday, Florio. Maybe that VW van actually does hold symbolic meaning for you. I dig liberals who like football.

  2. Imabigdog says: May 16, 2009 5:56 PM

    What I lose in this whole thing is the (LEAGAL) reason that the NFL is protesting. I know how the NFL feels about gambeling.
    Why should the NFL have a say so in what laws the state(s) pass. Don’t they have to prove that this law would cause them some type of harm?
    They don’t have a team in the state – Their corp headquartes are not in the state. What leagal right do they have to protest this law?

  3. jmclarkent says: May 16, 2009 6:20 PM

    “We hate sports betting.
    …by the way, here is the latest mandatory injury report.”

  4. alamedaman says: May 16, 2009 6:39 PM

    would you mind posting the brief somewhere Florio? some of us armchair quarterback/legal analysts would like to see it.

  5. sevenirongator says: May 16, 2009 6:57 PM

    I can’t think of a state as backwards as Delaware… Well ok one state.

  6. psubeerman says: May 16, 2009 8:15 PM

    Since Delaware has horse betting, video poker, and video blackjack, all of which involve some level of skill, it’s doubtful they would rule that sports betting doesn’t fit the mold of already legal methods of betting.
    A bigger issue is the effect on Delaware and it’s taxpayers if the NFL gets its way. Delaware needs the revenue generated from sports betting to balance a budget. What happens if they don’t get this money? Probably one of two things: a tax hike or a cut in services. It’s probably best not to get involved in such matters when, in reality, the NFL will benefit greatly from this new law.

  7. ChargersFootball says: May 16, 2009 9:24 PM

    online sports betting is a huge business.it was shut down almost globally a few years ago. in the offshore world the talk was untill the government can regulate it and get a piece of the pie. the NFL is a magnet for gambling and theres a reason they post injury reports and spreads as early as sunday night.as a long time football handicapper i can promise you the NFL is covering thier ass to keep the feds off thier ass.theres sooooo much more to all of this and im watching closely.

  8. Matt says: May 16, 2009 10:09 PM

    I’ll take you up Florio, I’ll argue that sport’s betting is the equivalent of flipping a coin and the same basic principals that scholarly finance texts argue that stock prices are perfectly priced at all times. Supply and demand drives the line just as it drives stock prices. Imbalances in likelihood of payouts are naturally adjusted by demand for the undervalued side of the transaction. The only thing that can derail this would be insider information and a lack of liquidity, which I posit would both be aided by more legalized gambling.
    And as to “iheartjesus” the trees are farmed bro, if they didn’t replant them they wouldn’t have a business. You might as well go save a potato….

  9. jramler says: May 16, 2009 10:11 PM

    There is legal sports betting everywhere in Canada, yet the NFL has no problem putting more games in Canada every year.

  10. east96st says: May 16, 2009 10:53 PM

    “Sports betting is based on skill”
    Tell that to any bookie and he’ll laugh his ass off. With the rare exception of a very few individuals, anyone gambling on sports on a weekly basis loses. It may take a year, it may take two. You can read every report you want, it doesn’t matter. Eventually, since the odds are stacked against you, you come up short. No one beats the spread week in and week out for years at a time.

  11. brianlion says: May 16, 2009 11:13 PM

    how does the NFL have any kind of standing to bring this suit? Every piece of data that exists today shows that the NFL can only benefit from more states legalizing sports wagering. There;s no way for them to prove adverse impact on this.

  12. Vet735 says: May 16, 2009 11:20 PM

    The NFL is so full of it. Legal sports betting in Canada, England. Apparently those aren’t a big deal.

  13. MJA says: May 17, 2009 12:17 AM

    Wouldn’t injuries increase the “luck” factor of NFL betting?

  14. DonkeyRider says: May 17, 2009 12:54 AM

    The powers that be in the NFL should be ashamed of themselves. The NFL has no business being involved in state law making. It seems like the NFL is the only company of all of those incorporated in Delaware (currently over 50 percent of US publicly traded corporations and 60 percent of the Fortune 500 companies are incorporated in Delaware), that has a problem with Delaware trying to find alternate funding sources for their coffers. I think the NFL has 3 options. Accept it and move on, pay the state extra taxes so it can stay solvent, or get the hell out of Delaware and let the state government do what it sees fit. If I could quote the tenth amendment:
    “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people”.

  15. TheDPR says: May 17, 2009 7:58 AM

    The “skill” versus “luck” argument seems absurd to me, especially in that apparently many states allow “luck” gambling but not “skill” gambling. Great. It’s illegal to apply a skill to something to earn money but it’s ok for the state gov. to rake in billions of dollars from poor schmucks trying their luck.
    Seems backwards, no?

  16. Shaun Lowrie says: May 17, 2009 8:33 AM

    One picture sums up my thoughts on Sports gambling:
    http://i12.photobucket.com/albums/a218/argel1/ohdear.jpg
    I hate Seattle. How many people do you think had the Bungles that week either? Oh yeah, I know how to pick games, but man… sometimes life just punches you full in the face.

  17. Smush Rodrigez says: May 17, 2009 9:30 AM

    The NFL is so arrogant and full of itself. We should have Arlen Spector look into them. Betting is what makes a large number of people watch football. I know tons of people who only watch the other games (not local team) because they have money on it.
    The sports books should be able to sue the Patriots for not disclosing the Moroney injury…. unless they did disclose it to the books.

  18. stevehg says: May 17, 2009 11:47 AM

    TheDPR is right. As a matter of fact, I believe that the anti-internet gambling law that was passed several years ago specifically outlaws “games of chance” not skill. Then they claimed poker was all luck but not skill. This argument seems to be completely opposite which says a lot about the logic behind most anti-gambling fanatics. Like Florio said, it’s going to be done anyway…

  19. texasPHINSfan says: May 18, 2009 12:15 PM

    no one seems to address the question of why the NFL is sticking their nose in this. who are they to dictate a state’s law passing abilities? especially a state they aren’t even headquartered in? is there even any NFL business interests in Delaware, franchise or otherwise?
    so why do they care, and why do they even have a say?

  20. TommyUrbanskisLegs says: May 23, 2009 1:40 AM

    What a joke. The NFL is dead set against this, until they can figure out a way to shift the profits to them. There needs to be serious consideration of bringing back antitrust suits. I’m not even a gambler (except when I think of some of the women I’ve slept with) but the incessant need of Goodell to interfere with states, suspend players before even being convicted of crimes, shows extreme arrogance on the part of the NFL – and the courts or Congress need to bring them down a peg or two.

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