Sports betting now legal in Delaware

Updated: May 14, 2009, 1:37 PM ET news services

NEWARK, Del. -- Delaware became the only state east of the Mississippi River to allow betting on sports after the governor signed the legislation.

Gov. Jack Markell signed the bill into law Thursday.

Officials say they expect to have sports betting running in three months and table games such as poker, blackjack, craps and roulette in play in no more than six months.

The sports lottery is key to Markell's plan to address a projected shortfall of more than $600 million for the coming fiscal year.

But sports betting could face a legal challenge by professional sports leagues.

According to the Wilmington (Del.) News Journal, the NFL already has filed a legal brief with the state Supreme Court, arguing that games cannot be considered a situation of chance because skill "plays an impermissible" role.

The state Supreme Court has scheduled a hearing for May 21 to hear arguments on the matter.

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.