Last week we reported that the four major professional sports leagues and the NCAA teamed up to file a civil suit against the state of Delaware to block its plan to introduce single-game wagering on pro and collegiate sports beginning this fall – on September 1, in fact, just in time for the first college football weekend and the NFL kickoff ten days later. (Let’s pause briefly to listen to the delirium from every ex-fratboy from North Jersey to DC for dramatic effect.) Yesterday a US District Court judge in Delaware (who presumably likes the Eagles -6) rejected the cabal’s request for an injunction, effectively giving the First State the freedom to move forward with its plan throughout football season. Trial, if it ever comes to pass, is scheduled to begin in early December. Sounds perfect, right?
Not so fast. Sensing that the Good Ship Moral Police was taking on too much water, the NCAA today announced that it will no longer allow its championships to be held in states that permit single-game wagering. What an amazing coincidence! While this new NCAA policy may hold significant sway in large, multi-faceted states such as California or Florida, Delaware is unlikely to see much of an impact. According to the AP report on the matter, the state expects to take in approximately $53M in its first year of gaming; how much money could Delaware stand to lose from this policy? To our knowledge, there’s never been a bowl game or an NCAA Tournament game in Dover, and there are no other cities of the size where the NCAA would host a major event. The 1-AA playoffs involving University of Delaware? Sure, but we’re only talking about a couple of games every few years there. What else – non-revenue sports? Yeah, keep trying.
The fact of the matter is that this is a power play by the NCAA to create a precedent should any of its other states (e.g., ones that actually carry and profit from NCAA events) get the notion that they too should look into this sports gambling business. Frankly, we don’t see how revenue lost could ever match what would pour into a state’s coffers, but that’s another argument for another time. The important thing here is that the NCAA is not going to win this battle, and the East Coast will actually now have a reason to visit Delaware for more than the 30 minutes it takes to pass through it.