Blog & Tackle: No NFL betting in Delaware (for now)

August 24, 2009 | Chris Pika

If you were hoping to take a short trip up to Delaware to put a few dollars down on single-game NFL betting, hold your cash because a federal court Monday ruled the state’s plan violated a federal ban.

According to ESPN, a three-judge panel in Philadelphia heard almost two hours of arguments from attorneys for the state and for the pro leagues and the NCAA.

Delaware had claimed it was exempt from a federan ban on sports betting because it ran a sports lottery in 1976. It is unclear if Delaware can mirror the specific program used in ’76 (multiple-game parlay wagers) going forward.

The NFL and the other leagues had vigorosly fought Delaware’s plan over the last few months, while at the same time, NFL owners eased restrictions on working with states with lottery games.

In May, NFL owners had voted 32-0 to allow clubs to form partnerships with state lottery agencies for use of club marks and logos on scratch-off games. The Ravens joined New England, Atlanta, Green Bay, Washington, Cincinnati, Seattle, Cleveland, Houston, N.Y. Jets, N.Y. Giants and Dallas with lottery deals.

The Ravens’ tie-in with the Maryland State Lottery is expected to generate net revenue of $3 million for Maryland, but the lotteries also put money into each team’s bottom line during a time when sponsorship dollars are tighter and a renegotiation of the league’s Collective Barganing Agreement is in the wings. Players receive nearly 60 percent of all team revenues in the current salary structure, and in a tight economic market with the traditional major sponsors of beer, banks and cars hurting across the board, teams are looking for different ways to bring in revenue.

For instance, according to a report in the Green Bay Press-Gazette earlier this month, the Packers will clear about $267,000 from its $467,000 partnership with the Wisconsin State Lottery after values of prizes contributed by the club are deducted. Other deals, like New England’s, are dependent on total ticket sales. According to the Massachusetts state treasurer, the Patriots could earn millions of dollars if all 30 million tickets are sold.

From the clubs’ perspective, in an August 11 story on ProFootballTalk.com, Patriots owner Robert Kraft laid out the reasons why clubs wanted to partner with state lotteries.

“If it wasn’t for the economic times, (the league allowing lottery deals might not have happened),” said Kraft. “The fact that we know to get an extension to the labor agreement, we have to work every way we can to grow revenues. Look at spending by automobile companies and (beer companies), they’re just not spending. We have two bankrupt automotive companies. (Other) car companies are just not spending money. And beer companies aren’t spending the way they did. We have to go out and be resourceful and create new revenue or we’ll have a real problem in the labor area.”

One of the three judges in the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals, Theordore McKee, talked during the hearing about a show he heard on NFL Network on Sirius/XM Radio, according to USA Today. “There’s constant chatter and betting advice given by people — since the league owns the network — paid by the league. Isn’t this like Chicken Little yelling the sky is falling at the same time selling tickets to watch meteor showers?”

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