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Appeals court blocks Delaware sports betting

24 August 2009

A federal appeals court ruled Monday that the state of Delaware's plan to offer sports betting would violate the federal ban on sports wagering.

After two hours of arguments from both sides, a three-judge panel from a federal appeals court in Philadelphia sided with the NFL, NBA, NHL, Major League Baseball and the NCAA in blocking single-game wagering activities that were set to begin in Delaware on Sept. 1 – just in time for the 2009 football season.

The ruling – signed by Circuit Judge Theodore A. McKee – said that "as a matter of law" the proposed Delaware sports lottery that was signed into law by Delaware Gov. Jack Markell in May "violates the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act" (PASPA) from 1992.

The state of Delaware argued that its plan was exempt under PASPA, which banned sports gambling in the U.S. except in the four states that already allowed or had previously allowed sports gambling — Delaware, Montana, Oregon and Nevada. Delaware ran a football-only sports lottery for one season back in 1976 that featured parlay bets.

Delaware state officials must now decide if they'll appeal Monday's ruling to either the full Third Circuit Court in Philadelphia or the U.S. Supreme Court. They could also decide to accept the ruling and either offer parlay betting or drop sports betting altogether.

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