Leagues and Delaware ready for sports betting appeal Monday

    The NCAA, NFL, and three other pro sports leagues hope to make what amounts to a goal line stand Monday in their battle against Delaware’s single game sports betting plan.

    The NCAA, NFL, and three other pro sports leagues hope to make what amounts to a goal line stand Monday in their battle against Delaware’s single game sports betting plan.

    A hearing before the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia is their last chance to stop Delaware’s single game sports betting plan before it starts September first.

    The leagues and the NCAA seek a preliminary injunction to keep the State of Delaware from taking single game bets until the leagues’ lawsuit against the State’s sports betting plan is heard in December.

    U.S. District Court in Delaware denied the request for an injunction earlier this month.

    Attorney Alex Funk,  former legal counsel to Delaware’s House of Representatives, believes the appeal will largely turn on one issue.  “Can the NFL and the other sports leagues prove that by Delaware’s starting the gambling operation September first, that that will have an immediate and irreparable negative impact on the leagues?” said Funk.

    Funk is skeptical that the leagues meet that standard because of sports gambling that already exists in Nevada and Montana.  “I think the Court is going to dismiss it out of handle because they’re just going to say whatever immediate harm, or irreparable  harm that’s going to happen has already happened. By adding Delaware, how does that substantially change the impact of these other locations?  I don’t think the leagues are going to be able to show that.’ said Funk.

    Funk adds that Delaware has its own counter arguments. “The arguments that come into play on the State’s side – we’ve already sought and opinion from our State Supreme Court and been given the green light.  We’ve spent “x” number of dollars to put this plan into motion.  We are ready to go.  We are now at the 11th and a half hour.  To stop us now would have such a detrimental impact on us that, even if there is some negative  impact on the sports leagues, it would be so detrimental to the the State that they (the Court) can’t issue the injunction.” Funk said.

    Delaware is asking the Third Circuit to dismiss the appeal or affirm the District Court ruling.

    Funk also sees a bit of a role reversal from the arguments made before Delaware’s Supreme Court back in May, when Governor Jack Markell sought an advisory opinion on the sports betting plan. “You remember, the NFL (in May) said this is improper.  We should have a hearing on this, create a factual record, and then make a decision.  Everyone is jumping the gun.” Funk said.  “Now, the state has sort of adopted that argument to fight the appeal.  They’re saying, we haven’t had a trial on this.  You’re trying to take a decision by the District Court to not intervene and appeal that to a Circuit Court. We’re not even sure why you’re appealing it. There’s no  factual record.  It’s entirely improper for us to be up here.”

    The Third Circuit Court will hear arguments starting at 10:30 Monday morning in Philadelphia.  Each side is being given 30 minutes to make its case before the three judge appeals panel.

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