WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Supreme Court on Monday rejected a Delaware appeal that argued the state should be allowed to offer a new sports betting lottery to generate revenue to help ease its record budget deficit.
The justices without comment let stand a ruling by a U.S. appeals court that a 1992 federal law prohibits Delaware from offering betting on individual games in all major sports.
The appeals court ruled in August that Delaware was limited to parlay betting, or gambling on multiple games, and only on National Football League contests. The state went ahead and now offers such betting on at least three NFL games.
The North American professional leagues for baseball, basketball, football and hockey and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) all argued that Delaware’s sports lottery plan violated the 1992 law.
The law, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, prohibits betting on sports, but exceptions were granted to Delaware, Nevada, Montana and Oregon because they previously operated some forms of sports gambling.
Delaware offered parlay bets on NFL games for a few months in 1976. The appeals court ruled that under the federal law Delaware was generally limited to what it offered in 1976.
In appealing to the Supreme Court, attorneys representing the state argued the appeals court wrongly concluded that Congress had prohibited Delaware from adopting a sports lottery scheme as a way to balance its budget.
Delaware had expected at least an estimated $17 million in revenues from the sports betting plan in the 2010 fiscal year to help close the state’s budget deficit.
Attorneys for the professional sports leagues and the NCAA told the Supreme Court the appeal should be rejected. They said the estimated $17 million in sports gambling revenue represented a trivial percentage of the state’s $3.1 billion budget.
Editing by Eric Beech