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Sports Betting Lawsuit Unlikely to Win, Say Gambling Law Experts

A sampling of national experts on gambling and the law finds that the NFL lawsuit against Delaware's sports betting program doesn't have much ground on which to stand.

The lawsuit by a coalition of the major US sports leagues, led by the NFL, to prevent Delaware from enacting its sports betting faces an uphill battle, according to experts on gaming and the law. Both cultural changes in society and the wording of the Congressional Act used as basis for the suit work against the sports organizations, say professors studying the situation.

"One of the big problems, legally, is that it's extremely hard to justify a law that says no gambling, no betting on sports events, except of course in Nevada, where it's a multi-billion dollar industry, and a few other states," Delawareonline was told by I. Nelson Rose, a law professor recognized as a national gambling expert.

The brief filed by the leagues says sports betting is detrimental to the integrity of leagues, and that Delaware cannot add single game wagering to the parlay system that earned it grandfathered status under the federal sports gambling ban. But the integrity versus corruption angle is severely overstated, say observers.

"I don't think there's a lot of evidence that it leads to things like point shaving," Karen Strumpf, professor of economics at the University of Kansas, said to Delawareonline. "It's not going to have a big effect on how much sports gambling goes on around the country, given the vast size of illegal sports betting and the legal betting in Nevada."

Even author Roger Dunstan, who sympathizes with the sports leagues' concerns given the ongoing steroids scandal in baseball, says the amount of existing illegal sports betting, casually accepted by the public, dwarfs any potential regulated activity.

University of Vermont law professor Michael McCann says legally the issues are as tough for the sports organizations as socially.

"By allowing legalized betting in Delaware, how, exactly, are the leagues injured? If there' s no injury, there's no viable claim," states McCann. "I think some of the teams already participate in lotteries, as with the NFL allowing their logo to be used for a state lottery in Massachusetts. I don't know if the NFL and the other leagues are the most credible entities to challenge this kind of state law."

Published on July 25, 2009 by JoshuaMcCarthy

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