Since Markell signed a bill to reauthorize sports betting in his state this past May, the style of betting has been up for debate. In 1976, the state allowed parlays, meaning bettors had to pick two winning teams at once to cash in a bet. But, hoping to attract bettors from neighboring Pennsylvania and Maryland, Markell has been pushing for his new sports books to offer single-game, Vegas-style action. The leagues -- the NFL in particular -- oppose this idea.
"Delaware did not conduct single-game wagering during its 1976 sports lottery, which was limited to parlay bets on NFL games," league representatives said in a joint statement when the lawsuit was filed. "The PASPA exception does not permit Delaware to now conduct single-game wagers on the NFL or wagering on sports other than the NFL."
The leagues also argued that taking single-game bets, rather than parlays, violates Delaware's constitution, which says all state-sponsored gambling must rely primarily on chance, not skill.
"The federal claim seems to be the weaker of the two to me," said Jeffrey Standen, a law professor at Willamette University in Salem, Ore., who specializes in sports and gambling. "If Delaware allowed bets on sports outcomes back in the day, is it really all that different if the outcome is on one game as opposed to three?
"The state claim may be a stronger case. With a single game there is more skill involved than trying to pick multiple games. Would that single-game bet still fit within the lottery exemption? Is it enough of a bet of luck?"
I'm not a lawyer, but how in the world is betting on one game skill but betting on two (or three) at a time luck? Are we to believe that sports bets are not Bernoulli trials like they are at any other place on the face of the earth? Or perhaps the laws of conditional probability cease to exist in the courtroom? Where they are magic parlays? Do you place these parlays with the same guy that sold Jack his beanstalk?