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Court Foils Delaware Sports Betting Plans

PHILADELPHIA - Delaware's bid to offer unlimited sports betting was thwarted by a federal appeals court Monday, a ruling that severely curtails what the state's three casinos can offer.

In a decision by the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals, Judge Theodore McKee said single-game betting - the main draw of the state's sports gambling efforts slated to launch next week - violated the Professional Amateur Sports Protection Act.

The order effectively limits Delaware to parlay wagering - where bettors must win bets on multiple games - on NFL contests. Delaware offered parlay betting for one year (1976), earning the state an exemption under the federal law.

"Obviously, I am disappointed with the court's decision and will be meeting with the state's attorneys to evaluate our legal options," Delaware Gov. Jack Markell said in a statement.

The hearing in front of a three-judge panel had been scheduled to discuss whether the four major pro sports leagues and the NCAA deserved a temporary injunction, which was denied by U.S. District Court Judge Gregory M. Sleet this month.

"It's fairly unusual for an appeals court to do this," said Michael Goldberg, a professor at the Widener University School of Law in Wilmington, Del. "A ruling like this often ends the case."

Delaware, which has spent tens of thousands of dollars on outside lawyers, could ask the entire 3rd Circuit to review the case.

The state's casinos have spent about $12 million prepping for the start of sports betting, which was supposed to begin with the first weekend of college football. Harrington Raceway President Patricia Key said her casino would move forward minus the lure of single-game bets.

"I don't think we have any other choice given the investment we've made," Key said.

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