The NFL, along with the other major sports leagues and the NCAA, has sued Delaware in an effort to block its plan to permit betting on sports.
As part of the broader legal strategy, the NFL initially tried to obtain a ruling blocking Delaware from introducing its new gambling program until the lawsuit is resolved.
The effort failed before a federal judge in Delaware. So now the league is taking the fight to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.
On Monday, lawyers will make their arguments before a three-judge panel in Philadelphia.
The legal standard for a preliminary injunction will be the same before the appellate court as it was before the trial court — it’s a complex and malleable stew of factors that consider whether the sports leagues will suffer “irreparable harm” if Delaware is permitted to proceed, whether the NFL and its cohorts have shown a sufficient likelihood of ultimately winning, whether the hardships suffered by Delaware in pulling the plug will outweigh the damage to the sports leagues, and whether the public interest favors the entry of an injunction.
As A.J. Perez of USA Today reports, there’s some debate regarding the meaning of the federal statute that prohibits sports betting, and that permits states that had sports betting programs from 1976 through 1990 to resurrect the activity. This reality alone could make it much harder for the sports leagues to establish a sufficient likelihood of successfully proving that Delaware is violating the terms of the relevant federal law.
That said, as the StarCaps case demonstrated last year, a preliminary injunction can be secured even where the plaintiff ultimately loses.
Still, it’s always a long shot to secure a preliminary injunction. In this case, the effort demonstrates the extent to which the NFL is willing to fight against the expansion of gambling.
Except for lottery tickets.
And, yeah, we realize that the NFL can tolerate games of chance unrelated to the outcome of football games. But we still think that many average persons don’t comprehend the distinction.
We also think that, if the NFL were fully committed to preventing the influence of gambling from potentially undermining the integrity of the sport, the league would beef up the injury-reporting rules to the point where Belichick-Mangini shenanigans would not be tolerated, ever.