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NFL Drops Strong Hint At Lawsuit Attacking Delaware Sports Betting

On Thursday, the Delaware Supreme Court conducted a one-hour hearing on the thorny question of whether the state’s new gambling law complies with the terms of the Delaware Constitution.
The NFL, which previously submitted a brief urging the Court to decline to rubber-stamp the measure, used five minutes to make its case.
During the 300-or-so seconds, attorney Kenneth J. Nachbar of Wilmington suggested that formal enactment of a law allowing betting on sports will trigger a quick lawsuit.
I think that it may not have such a long wait,” Nachbar said regarding the possibility of a legal challenge to the gambling measure.
We recently summarized the issues based on the contents of the brief submitted by the league, and here’s an even simpler breakdown of the situation.
First, the league thinks that sports betting violates the Delaware Constitution, because it relies on skill, not chance.
Second, the league believes that a brief 1976 experiment with sports betting in Delaware does not qualify for the exception to the 1992 federal law generally banning sports betting.
As to the first point, Delaware Supreme Court Justice Henry du Pont Ridgely asked the league’s lawyer whether he agrees with the notion that one team can beat any other team “on any given Sunday.”  Nachbar said in response, “I’ll invoke the Detroit Lions exception.”
Nachbar’s crack at the Lions (who are paying 1/32nd of his fee) misses the mark.  The use of the point spread makes the Lions’ 0-16 record meaningless.  Even though they didn’t win a game straight up, the Lions were 7-9 against the spread.
So the cliche, as it relates to betting, is that on any given Sunday the underdogs essentially can “win” via the application of the line.
Nachbar should have explained that, in this specific context, skilled bettors will know when the spread is skewed in one team’s favor.  And for that reason alone the Delaware Supreme Court should find that sports wagering relies on skill, and thus runs afoul of the Delaware Constitution.

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23 Responses to “NFL Drops Strong Hint At Lawsuit Attacking Delaware Sports Betting”
  1. Favre2012 says: May 22, 2009 11:53 PM

    If there was skill involved, sports bettors would be rich, instead of broke.

  2. Roachk1lla says: May 22, 2009 11:54 PM

    theres no mafia in Delaware, so they dont want gambling there

  3. arosen36 says: May 23, 2009 12:10 AM

    what are delaware’s odds that the nfl cant do sh*t?

  4. rsa says: May 23, 2009 12:19 AM

    Before the Delaware Supreme Court should find that sports wagering relies on skill, I think the league should produce these “skilled bettors” and prove that they beat the spread at a statistically significant rate. Surely the NFL has several on staff…

  5. erniecohen says: May 23, 2009 12:20 AM

    The “luck versus skill” argument is fundamentally flawed, because you can make the same argument for any state lottery where bettors choose the number they bet on and winners split the jackpot. In such lotteries, expectation depends on how well you can avoid chosing numbers chosen by other gamblers, which demands a similar exercuse in skill.

  6. joeqpublic says: May 23, 2009 12:39 AM

    The point spread makes the 0-16 record reference meaningless as an answer to the Judge’s question, as you state, but I disagree that your interpretation of the ‘any given sunday’ cliche validates the NFL’s position and makes sports betting a skill rather than chance.
    Certainly, there is significant skill in measuring performance, records, and quality of skill positions, but the emphasis of the cliche rests on the human-factor. On any given play Tom Brady can suffer an MCL/ACL tear. On any given play a skill position on a team can be made mute by the opposing team. The reverse is true, too.
    A great player is made or destroyed in the wake of a single play in the NFL. And that play will occur any given sunday. This is why we go to games rather than measure them on paper and assume an outcome. And this is why we bet on the home team regardless of record or opponent.
    There is certainly a measure of skill to betting, but the Lions were 7-9 against the spread, and that is pretty much 50-50, right? Betting on the Lions was a toss-up on any given sunday in 2008.

  7. NoHomeTeam says: May 23, 2009 1:51 AM

    Favre2012 says: “If there was skill involved, sports bettors would be rich, instead of broke. ”
    Of course, some sports bettors are rich. Just like some athletes are better at football than others. I’ve played some backyard football, but I’m not good enough to earn a living at it. I’ve put down the occasional wager on a football team in Lost Wages, but I’m not skilled or dedicated enough to try to make any serious cash. Just because I can’t do it doesn’t mean there aren’t more than a few people who are skilled and dedicated enough to turn a profit.

  8. Southernboi727 says: May 23, 2009 1:54 AM

    why is gambling so bad? I would spend more money on the NFL and be able to maybe make some money off gambling and spend that money right back on NFL stuff. The league needs to stand down on this. Sundays are already exciting enough, gambling would bring it to another level. Imagine watching the Lions and the Bengals game and actually caring cause you put a wager on one of the teams. I think it would be fun as hell.
    VICK FOR MVP in 2009

  9. DarthJay says: May 23, 2009 2:00 AM

    I don’t see how the NFL has a leg to stand on. I mean, how would people react if someone like Microsoft or Comcast or Best Buy saw some random state that they don’t even operate in come up with some law and said “yeah, that doesn’t really work for us, you shouldn’t do it.”
    It’s just a ridiculous premise from the start. At best, they delay the state of Delaware long enough for them to amend their “state constitution.” Big deal. If they want this to happen, it’s going to F’ing happen, and who the hell does the NFL think they are to think they can stop it?
    And I mean, this is less then 24 hours after they allowed their teams to partake in state lottery offerings. Way to be wishy-washy NFL. What they are trying to say is gambling is only OK when they are on the take. Idiots.

  10. southie905 says: May 23, 2009 2:29 AM

    does horse racing not count as a sport?

  11. El Colon says: May 23, 2009 3:17 AM

    great point Florio, maybe the NFL should put you on retainer

  12. philly says: May 23, 2009 3:21 AM

    That’s why you are a lawyer and I’m not Florio.
    You are willing to look up pointless crap and I’m not.

  13. Ravenmaniac says: May 23, 2009 7:38 AM

    I understand what they are saying about there being skill involved but as long as there are Referees making “judgement calls” how can you say it is not a game of chance???

  14. Smush Rodrigez says: May 23, 2009 8:27 AM

    I am sorry if I missed it, but can someone exolain why the NFL cares? I am trying to come up wth reasons and all I come up with is that they want the appearance that they are against gambling even though it has made them as big as they are. Or that they are in business with the books in Vegas (I do not think that this is true).

  15. cheeseburger says: May 23, 2009 8:28 AM

    The Lions? You can always bet against the lions so that isn’t a chance either. don’t you mean the Pats cheating or having Ed Hochuli on the field with you?

  16. JoeSixPack says: May 23, 2009 9:19 AM

    So let’s see if I understand this correctly… the NFL favors profiting on Lottery scratch ticket gambling, is suing to oppose legalized sports betting, and is penalizing teams for not helping the illegal sports betting by covering up injuries?
    Yeah – that’s consistent.

  17. A_Cat_Named_Chicken says: May 23, 2009 9:31 AM

    That’s a very good question, Why does the NFL have a horse in this race? That should be the real point here Mike. If the sport books from L.V. or A.C. had filed this lawsuit, would they had as good of a chance as the NFL of winning? Why is the NFL even carriering this water?
    If the NFL is doing this to look anti-gambling, as your point is. They sure as hell are looking pro vegas (are in business with the books in Vegas) as the reader points out above.
    Of course this is a consperancy theory, just like the Steeler’s have any better chance of winning even tho they are connected to gaming.
    As Jonny Cash once said “what’s done in the dark will come to the light”

  18. CaptainFantastik says: May 23, 2009 11:08 AM

    Christ Almighty. The NFL is getting too big and powerful for its own good. The league needs to be taken down several pegs. It’s going to be funny watching the league deal with endless blackouts this year.

  19. Pal Davis says: May 23, 2009 11:27 AM

    Delaware better be careful, their once high hopes of landing a franchise in Dover are shrinking by the minute.

  20. tnsteve says: May 23, 2009 12:53 PM

    The only skilled bettors in gambling is “the house.” They’re the only ones winning consistently.

  21. Raiders757 says: May 23, 2009 2:37 PM

    The NFL needs to get over themselves on this issue. Delaware isn’t some corporation. It’s a friggin’ state, and if the people of that state wish to legalize sports betting, they damn well can.

  22. psubeerman says: May 23, 2009 2:48 PM

    I think that the NFL has a right to keep its product as clean as possible, and certainly corruption and any accusation of “throwing a game” would be catastrophic for the NFL. However, the state of Delaware has a right to balance its budget as it sees fit, regardless of what a corporation wants. There are too many people (i.e. every taxpayer of Delaware) that would be adversly affected should the NFL gets its way. If Delware can’t use the money from sports betting to meet its budget shortfall, the money will come from somewhere else: more taxes or cutting of services.
    Frankly, for a organization that prints its own money, has an anti-trust exemption, and is so wildly popular that it’s actually considering holding a superbowl in london, maybe it shouldn’t stick its nose into a state’s buisness…considering that gambling is a huge reason why the NFL is so popular.

  23. CaptainFantastik says: May 23, 2009 8:28 PM

    The NFL would do well to shut their mouths lest Congress get involved and decide to take away that anti-trust exemption.

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