Delaware passes sportsbetting bill

Initiatives by the Delaware state government of Governor Jack Markell to raise more tax revenues through the introduction of sportsbetting in the state (see previous InfoPowa reports) entered a new phase as the week ended, with the state legislature approving a revised bill that has been vigorously opposed by major sports leagues in the USA along with the NCAA.

USA Today reports that only days after a similar bill failed to garner enough votes in the state's house of representatives, a reworked and milder version passed by a 30-4 margin. The bill still needs to be approved by the senate then signed by Markell, who is looking to a sports lottery to help alleviate the state's budget crisis.

"My administration worked with the leadership in the house and senate to get this done," Markell said in a statement. "We never stopped fighting to do what was right for the taxpayers of Delaware."

Markell said the new bill addressed all the issues. The three existing land casinos in Delaware will be allowed to eventually install table games - only video poker and other electronic gaming are allowed now - and they will get an even split in the sports lottery revenue, better than that which the original proposal offered.

Delaware, Oregon, Nevada and Montana were grandfathered in under a 1992 federal law that precludes states from establishing sports gambling.

Still to be resolved is what exact form - from single-game betting to parlays - the lottery will take. Markell has again asked the State Supreme Court for its input now that the bill has passed. The governor expects final approvals to be done by mid-May 2009.

Opposition from sports bodies, already lobbying against new federal proposals for the regulation of Internet casino and poker gambling in the United States, was predictably negative.

"From an NCAA perspective, we oppose all kinds of sports wagering," NCAA spokesman Stacey Osburn said. "Sports wagering is a problem, not a solution (to budget woes) from our perspective."

The NCAA met with Delaware officials in March, when the NCAA threatened that it would bar the state's universities from holding NCAA championships. Such a ban led Oregon to abandon its sports lottery three years ago, giving the state the ability to play host to NCAA men's basketball tournament games.

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