In case you missed it late last Friday afternoon, the NCAA, along with the NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL, sued the state of Delaware and the issue had nothing to do with the state’s personal extortionists known as credit card companies. See, those crafty First Staters hidden along the east coast near Pennsylmaryginia have gotten all uppity and are planning on implementing legal sports gambling in time for this year’s NFL and college football seasons. Unlike its previous foray into sports betting during the 1970s (an ill-advised sports ‘lottery’ of sorts), this time around the state has plans to offer single-game wagers using point spreads the same as one would make at the Bellagio or Wynn in Vegas. Revenue would help Delaware close its projected half-billion dollar budget deficit next year and in subsequent years. The professional leagues and the NCAA don’t like this development (what about the children???), so they’re suing the state to block the plan, stating that sports gambling in Delaware “would irreparably harm professional and amateur sports by fostering suspicion and skepticism that individual plays and final scores of games may have been influenced by factors other than honest athletic competition.”
Is the NCAA serious with this nonsense? We already know that illegal gambling is far worse than these leagues will ever let on, but does the NCAA truly believe that by eliminating legal, regulated gaming that there will be a greater chance for its games to become tainted? Are we expected to believe that Delaware athletes, or those of nearby surrounding states, will suddenly become more compelled to make a trip to Dover Downs to lay some bones on themselves? It’s complete hogwash, the NCAA knows it, and their hypocrisy by doing business with companies such as CBS who promote gambling on their web properties and allowing UNLV and Nevada (yeah, gambling happens there too) to compete at the highest level of NCAA sports is appalling. Luckily, we’re not the only ones who feel that way.
Peter Schwartzkopf, the Delaware House majority leader, fired back today with a letter addressed to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell but cc’d to each of the other parties of the lawsuit. It is fair to say that he holds no punches:
What I do not respect is the blatant hypocrisy of the professional sports leagues like the NFL that have now brought a lawsuit against Delaware. The lawsuit complains that legalized sports betting in Delaware will somehow undermine the integrity of their leagues. But the stance taken in these legal filings is belied by the close nexus between gambling and the leagues themselves. [...] We also learned that the NCAA, while threatening our Delaware universities with taking away home playoff games if sports betting moves forward, sponsored the Las Vegas Bowl last year, housing its players in hotel casinos where bets are taken on games.
Ouch. He continues:
It is hard to imagine why moving forward with sports betting in Delaware will undermine the integrity of professional or college sports. Las Vegas has promoted sports betting for many years, so Delaware is not covering new ground here. When it comes to expanding state sponsored gaming, legitimate debate and discussion should continue among Delaware’s elected representatives and its citizens. But the self-serving, hypocritical pronouncements and legal threats by these for-profit sports leagues that have sued Delaware should be rejected.
The Supreme Court of Delaware already issued an advisory opinion on this issue in May, and it determined that so long as there is an element of chance involved in the system (i.e., it’s not 100% skill), then it is a legal mechanism. To get around this, the plaintiffs filed their case in federal court in the hopes that they could get a different interpretation. We wish nothing but the worst of luck to the NCAA and their cohorts on this one.