Limited to parlay bets on NFL games, sports betting won't generate the revenue and foot traffic that had been expected from single-game betting

A federal appeals court has officially limited Delaware’s plans for sports betting to parlay bets on National Football League games only, meaning bettors at the state’s three racetrack casinos cannot bet single games.

Delaware had been counting on sports betting to generate about $53 million a year to help plug a nearly $800 million budget deficit, according to a report in The Philadelphia Inquirer.

The three racinos have invested millions of dollars to build new sports books in anticipation of the start of the NFL season this week.

But operators say parlay betting will not generate the revenue and foot traffic that single-game betting would have.

“While we are disappointed the decision does not provide the flexibility we had hoped for, Delaware is still the only state east of the Rocky Mountains that can offer a legal sports lottery on NFL football,” said Gov. Jack Markell.

He said the state’s attorneys are reviewing the written opinion of the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued Monday.

The three-judge panel initially ruled last week that Delaware’s sports betting plan, which included single-game bets and wagering on a variety of professional and collegiate sports, violated a 1992 federal ban on sports gambling incorporated in the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act.

The court said it interpreted language that exempted Delaware from the federal ban as precluding any type of betting beyond what it had offered in a failed NFL lottery in 1976. That lottery lasted only four months and had disappointing revenue results.