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Supreme Court turns back Delaware bid to expand sports betting

Delaware wanted to expand sports betting games, in an effort to bring in new revenue for a strapped state budget. But a US appeals court said a federal law prevents it. On Monday, the Supreme Court let that ruling stand.

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Delaware has lost its bid to run an expanded array of sports betting games intended to alleviate a state budget crisis.

The US Supreme Court on Monday let stand an appeals court ruling that the state’s plan to run an expanded sports betting operation is barred by a federal antigambling law.

Congress passed the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 in an effort to prevent sports betting from undermining public confidence in sporting events and to protect the image of professional and collegiate athletics as wholesome entertainment.

The law makes it illegal to bet on sporting events. But the statute includes a clause allowing those states that permitted sports betting between 1976 and 1990 to continue to authorize those activities. The clause “grandfathers” some version of sports betting in four states: Delaware, Montana, Nevada, and Oregon.

Last year, faced with a mounting budget crisis, Delaware decided to offer a broader range of sports betting games on non-Delaware athletic events, including individual games at the professional and college level. The state-run betting operation was set to begin in September 2009.

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