I never actually got around to calling myself a Delaweenie, but I did live and work for nearly a decade in the environs of Wilmington, Del., and have a soft spot for the little bitty state smooshed into the I-95 corridor between Baltimore and Philadelphia.
So it was with some interest that I read news report that my old friends (figuratively speaking) at the Delaware State Lottery were gearing up for a Sept. 1 unveiling of sports betting in the First State. A suit filed by the NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB and the NCAA to put the kibosh on the plan took a hit in U.S. District Court in Delaware in early August when the judge ruled against a request to stop the betting until the suit is settled.
A Dec. 7 trial date is set, but the judge ruled the plans could still go forward. The plaintiffs could still ask the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn the District Court decision, or at least stop the plan while the case is pending.
Assuming it goes forward, one of the three racetracks where the betting will take place is Delaware Park, just south of Wilmington. When I was the editor of a weekly newspaper in the Wilmington suburbs more than 20 years ago, I visited the track several times for news stories, though back then all that was happening at the horse-racing track was … drum roll, please … horse racing.
To have officials from the major professional sports leagues caterwauling about the perils of legalized gambling is not precisely the same as tobacco company executives telling you that one of their major goals is to reduce teenage smoking, but on the hypocrisy/disingenuousness meter both assertions register just about the same whopping score.
In this Internet age, trying to forestall the march of legalized betting on just about anything seems cosmically futile. Better to try to adjust to the reality than expend huge resources attempting to keep at bay the inevitable.
And by way of full disclosure, I should concede that I also have a soft spot for the Delaware Lottery, which oversees the casino gambling at the racetracks and will administer the sports gaming – I am willing to bet – beginning Sept. 1, which you’ll note is just in time for the NFL’s first week. In 1989, I won $25,000 in a scratch-off lottery game in Delaware.
Which doesn’t exactly make me an advocate, especially since the dough is all long since gone.