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If the producers of Wayne’s World ever decide to make it a trilogy, maybe they’ll be able to say something more substantial about Delaware, as the state has grown beyond its tiny constraints in recent years. First there was University of Delaware grad Joe Flacco, who became the first rookie quarterback to win two NFL playoff games. Then another Joe got himself nominated to the Vice Presidency. (I’m assuming I don’t need a link on this one.) And of course we’ve long had corporate law and the Court of Chancery. But now Delaware is making headlines as the fourth state, and the only one east of the Mississippi, to allow sports betting.
Looking for unique ways to combat a deficit that is $800 million and growing, lawmakers banked on the fact that Delaware is one of only four states that had sports betting laws on its books in 1992 when Congress passed the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, meaning that only those four are exempted from the law. Even so, there are many issues still to resolve before the first bets are placed. The law already survived a trip through the Delaware Supreme Court, where representatives from the NFL and NCAA attempted to persuade the Court that the law violated the Delaware Constitution. Their argument was that Delaware law only allows government-run lotteries and that sports betting is a game of skill rather than luck; the Court disagreed, however, holding that lotteries can involve a degree of calculation or even certainty so long as chance predominates.
Assuming opponents do not challenge the law successfully in federal court, sports betting should be ready to go for the NFL season this fall once lawmakers determine how and where the bets will be placed, in addition to which table games the state wants to offer alongside the action. Slot machines and racetracks have existed in the state for a long time, and now traditional casino games will be offered as well.
Although expected revenue estimates may be overstated, anything to help the struggling economy is fine by me. The endeavour will undoubtedly raise money (insert moral criticism here–the one about taking from people with gambling addictions who need help), will create jobs, and will provide new excitement for a state that can be rather, well… quiet. At the very least, with Delaware’s recent rise in popularity, I can stop describing where I live as a neighborhood five minutes from Pennsylvania, ten minutes from Maryland, and twenty minutes from Dirty Jerz.
– Andrew Cunningham
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