U.S. Supreme Court denies DE sports betting appeal

    Delaware’s effort to expand sports betting in the state beyond parlay bets on NFL games appears to be over. The U.S. Supreme Court has turned down the First State’s request that it hear an appeal to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruling last summer that severely limited the scope of its sport betting plans.

    Delaware’s effort to expand sports betting in the state beyond parlay bets on NFL games appears to be over.  The U.S. Supreme Court has turned down the First State’s request that it hear an appeal to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruling last summer that severely limited the scope of its sport betting plans.

    The Supreme Court denied Delaware’s petition without comment.

    Delaware Governor Jack Markell (D) is disappointed.

    “The state was hoping to have its day in court for our arguments to be fully heard but we will not get that chance.  The result is unfortunate but not surprising, since only a small fraction of appeals to the Supreme Court are actually heard,” Markell said.

    Delaware filed its appeal in January after the state’s three racinos agreed to pay the legal costs, making it a no-risk proposition for the state.

    “The costs of this appeal were not carried by taxpayers,” said Markell.

    Dover Downs president Ed Sutor says the state’s racinos are also disappointed by the decision, but don’t consider the appeal effort a waste of money.

    “There’s no sour grapes at all.  We thought the state had a great case, so much so that we willingly agreed to foot the bill for the filing of the appeal,”  Sutor said. “So, there’s no regrets there.  It was the normal cost of doing business for us, and it was a good decision on our part.  Unfortunately, we didn’t get the the answer we were looking for and hoping for.”

    The state and its racinos now move forward with what they have, NFL parlay bets, believing they still give the First State a competitive edge.

    “Even with this decision, Delaware remains the only state on the East Coast that offers betting on NFL games,” Markell said.

    “What we did get in parlay bets surprised us, the continuing improvement week after week,”  Sutor observed. “We didn’t get a lot of big players from out of town.  We didn’t get a lot of big bets, but we did get a steady stream of additional customers every week and that’s good.”

    The state made nearly $1.6 million in its first season of sports betting, offering NFL parlay bets on three or more games at Delaware Park, Dover Downs and Harrington Raceway and Casino.  That was significantly less than the state hoped to make by offering single game bets on a full range of sports, but outperformed initial estimates that NFL parlay bets would yield only $500,000 to state coffers.

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.