Sports betting bill falls two votes short

Updated: May 6, 2009, 12:53 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Delaware lawmakers have voted down a bill that would have authorized sports betting in the First State.

Gov. Jack Markell had proposed expanding gambling in hopes of raising an estimated $55 million in revenue for the state. But on Tuesday night, the measure fell two votes short of the three-fifths majority needed for the bill to clear the Delaware House of Representatives, with 23 votes in favor, 15 against and three abstentions.

Markell proposed expanding gaming at the state's three racetrack/casinos and a larger state share of slot machine revenues to prevent additional cuts in the fiscal 2010 budget. Markell has already proposed an 8 percent salary cut for all state workers.

The bill drew opposition from the state's three racetrack/casinos, who said the proposal would drive them out of business. According to the News-Journal of Wilimington, Patti Key, the CEO of Harrington Raceway, told lawmakers Tuesday that the larger state take of slot machine revenue would cost the track $3.2 million -- and that it would not make any money from sports betting.

Representatives of the NFL and National Collegiate Athletic Association also lobbied against the bill last month.

By virtue of a brief and unsuccessful experiment with a sports lottery in the late 1970s, Delaware is one of only four states, along with Nevada, Montana and Oregon, grandfathered under a 1992 federal law that bans sports gambling.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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