SBD/Issue 235/Leagues & Governing Bodies

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  • Court Rules Delaware Single-Game Betting Violates Federal Law

    Delaware Gov. Markell Surprised,
    Disappointed By Monday's Ruling
    The U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia yesterday ruled that Delaware "would be violating a federal law if it proceeds" with a plan to offer single-game sports betting, according to O'Sullivan & Barrish of the Wilmington NEWS JOURNAL. Delaware's three racetrack casinos had been "working to open sports books" on September 1, but yesterday's ruling "dealt what appears to be a knockout punch" to the effort. The appeals court was "expected to focus on the NFL's request for a preliminary injunction, denied earlier this month in District Court," which would have prevented the state from "launching single-game sports betting until the matter could be decided in a federal lawsuit set for trial in December." But the three-judge panel yesterday "stunned the state's attorneys by going straight to the core of the case, ruling Delaware's plan 'violates the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act.'" The judges said that because the parties "did not dispute any facts" in the case, it was a "simple matter of law they could rule on immediately." The ruling "seemed to be a complete victory for college and pro sports." Delaware Gov. Jack Markell said that he was "surprised by Monday's ruling." Markell: "We're disappointed and we're going to review our legal options, but the bottom line is we can offer the parlay betting on professional football when the season starts." Circuit Judge Theodore McKee said that a "full opinion would be issued in the coming days that will explain the court's rationale for finding Delaware's sports betting plan illegal," and the opinion also is "expected to make clear what will happen in the federal court case scheduled for trial." Markell indicated that "no decision had been made to appeal or try to gain the ability to conduct sports betting by joining a lawsuit by New Jersey officials arguing the sports protection act violates federal commerce laws" (Wilmington NEWS JOURNAL, 8/25).

    APPEAL UNDECIDED, BUT COULD BE TOUGH: The state has not yet decided on an appeal, but one law expert indicated that "getting an appeal would be hard because the court was not split on the decision" (WASHINGTONTIMES.com, 8/24). Widener Univ. law professor Lawrence Hamermesh indicated that Delaware can "appeal to the full Third Circuit Court or to the Supreme Court," but either approach "would likely fail because the panel's ruling was unanimous." Hamermesh: "If I were in the state's position, I would be looking around for another way to raise revenue" (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 8/25). Lawyers claim that the ruling was "unusual because appellate courts tend to give deference to lower courts." Lawyers added that yesterday's ruling is the "first interpretation of a court of how broad or narrow the exemptions to the federal sports protection law are" (Wilmington NEWS JOURNAL, 8/25). Widener Univ. law professor Michael Goldberg: "It's fairly unusual for an appeals court to do this. A ruling like this often ends the case" (USA TODAY, 8/25).

    Dover Downs, Harrington Raceway & Casino
    Each Spending $5M Constructing Sports Books
    PICKING UP THE PIECES: In Delaware, Finney & Gibson report the state's three casinos said that they will "continue building sports betting parlors because they plan to offer some kind of sports betting in less than a week." Court documents show that Harrington Raceway & Casino (HRC) and Dover Downs each are spending $5M for "construction of their respective sports books," while Delaware Park is investing $1M. The court yesterday ruled that Delaware still can "offer parlay bets on NFL games, as it did in 1976," but HRC CEO Patricia Key said that "offering only NFL parlay bets would be 'devastating.'" Finney & Gibson note that the track "already started advertising the addition of sports betting," and Delaware Park COO Andrew Gentile said, "I guess we'll have to be changing some of our billboards" (Wilmington NEWS JOURNAL, 8/25).

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  • YouTube's Chad Hurley Discusses Involvement With USF1

    Hurley Hopes To Bring His Internet,
    Technological Experience To F1
    YouTube co-Founder & CEO Chad Hurley Sunday night appeared on Speed's "Wind Tunnel With Dave Despain" to discuss becoming the primary investor in US F1. Hurley said becoming involved with the team was an "interesting opportunity" in his efforts to diversify YouTube after its acquisition by Google. Hurley: "It's hard to find opportunities that are not competitive with Google and this was definitely one of them." Hurley noted F1 has a global appeal along with a "potential big upside that it still has within the U.S. market, and from a business perspective, I was looking at it from that angle." Hurley: "But the opportunity to get in on the ground floor of a new team, to be personally involved with helping build the organization, thinking about the strategy of how we want to connect with our fans, and I thought hopefully I could bring some of my experience in the technology/Internet field to the team to help them." Hurley said he hopes YouTube as part of the involvement has the "ability to create some compelling content for our fans and YouTube is actually a great way to distribute your content on a global basis." Hurley: "Beyond just video, we're going to be looking at ways for people to connect with the drivers and to communicate directly with the team, and I don't think enough businesses or even sports organizations take advantage of that to the full extent that they could." Hurley also said it "would be great" to have a F1 race in the U.S., but "that's not necessarily our goal" ("Wind Tunnel With Dave Despain," Speed, 8/23). Hurley added, “This is something that appealed to me on a business and a personal level. ... They’re a startup, and it’s similar to a lot of situations you see in Silicon Valley. You’ve got a small team of talented individuals trying to break the mold, trying to do something that others think isn’t possible” (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 8/24 issue).

    SETTING THE SCHEDULE: The BBC's Sarah Holt reported Suzuka, Japan, will host the '10 F1 Japanese Grand Prix "after reaching an agreement" with F1 Management Chair Bernie Ecclestone. Meanwhile, a separate deal ensured that the European Grand Prix will take place in Valencia, Spain, "for the next five years" after the Valencian government stepped in to fund the race at a "reduced cost with organisers Valmor Sports." Valmor Sports also "requested that the race be moved from August to a date in October." Meanwhile, Holt noted Canada is "likely to rejoin the F1 calendar in 2010, which is expected to be published in October" (BBC.co.uk, 8/23).

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  • Wie Could Build On Solheim Success To Become LPGA Superstar

    Writer Says Wie Could Be LPGA's
    Cross-Cultural American Superstar
    The LPGA "certainly hopes" last week's Solheim Cup is a turning point for golfer Michelle Wie, as she "could be its big cross-cultural American superstar," according to Gary Van Sickle of SI. Wie finished 3-0-1 in her Solheim Cup debut as the U.S. team defeated Europe 16-12, and SI's Alan Shipnuck wrote the event "will be remembered as the week her career finally took off." SI's Damon Hack: "We'll look back at this year's Solheim Cup as the turning point to Michelle Wie's career. She has been fully accepted now -- by her peers, by the fans, by almost everyone." Meanwhile, SI's Dick Friedman noted it was "definitely significant that Wie's parents, while on the scene, weren't allowed to hover," as that "may have loosened her up" (GOLF.com, 8/23). In Charlotte, Ron Green Jr. writes, "In an otherwise miserable year for the LPGA, the U.S. victory in the Solheim Cup Sunday had to feel like an early Christmas, generating some genuine interest in what was happening while remaking Michelle Wie into a star again." If Wie can "begin to win regularly, it would help revive a tour desperately in need of a boost" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 8/25).

    SOMETHING TO BUILD ON: The AP's Nancy Armour wrote the Solheim Cup was the "perfect advertisement for women's golf," and the next question is, "could it also be the remedy for the LPGA Tour, which has seemed more like a bad soap opera in recent months?" Golfer Juli Inkster: "We've got some great golf. If people would write about the golf and not about all the other stuff, we would be great." Armour noted it will be "another two years before the LPGA will have this kind of lovefest again," and the challenge for the golfers will be to "maintain the enthusiasm of the Solheim Cup when they're opponents instead of teammates" (AP, 8/24). GolfChannel.com Editor Jay Coffin, on whether the LPGA can capitalize on the Solheim Cup momentum, "You hope so, but this is the fifth one of these that I've been to and we've talked about this five times and it's never seemed to happen." Coffin: "But if you're the LPGA and there's ever a year that they need to build on the success of the Solheim Cup, this is the year. They need that to happen" ("Golf Central," Golf Channel, 8/24). In Nashville, Joe Biddle writes under the header, "LPGA Could Learn Lesson From Solheim Cup." The tour is "at a crossroads" following the resignation of Commissioner Carolyn Bivens, as tournament sponsors are "dropping," and tournaments are "canceling because of lack of sponsors." The Solheim Cup was "everything the LPGA is not." The LPGA is "rudderless," and it "better identify a commissioner who can find ways to take advantage of the emotions the Solheim Cup brought to the surface." Biddle: "The product is there. Without a dominant American golfer, it's a hard sell" (Nashville TENNESSEAN, 8/25).

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  • Nike Selling Ownership Of USL; MLS Not Interested In Buying

    Nike has "put up for sale its" 100% ownership of United Soccer Leagues (USL), and MLS officials said that the league is "no longer interested" in buying it, according to Jack Bell of the N.Y. TIMES. The USL, the conglomeration of six leagues with teams in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico, was founded in '86 and owned by Umbro until Nike bought Umbro in '07 for $582M. Nike has since "decided that being the owner of the league does not fit with its core business." MLS Senior VP/Marketing & Communications Dan Courtemanche in an e-mail said MLS "recently evaluated the opportunity to purchase the USL, but elected to not submit a bid for the league." The decision was the "result of several factors, including: MLS has a long-term deal with adidas; acquiring the league could raise potential antitrust issues; any agreement to absorb USL1 may rekindle FIFA's desire for promotion/relegation in MLS; and MLS has already poached USL teams from attractive markets in Toronto, Vancouver, Portland and Seattle." Bell notes Brazil-based Traffic, which owns USL Miami FC, other clubs and the "rights to players throughout the Western Hemisphere," could be interested in acquiring the league (N.Y. TIMES, 8/25).

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  • WPS Will Look To Attract More Sponsors, Fans In Second Season

    Boxx Calls WPS' Inaugural Season
    A Great Success On The Field
    WPS' inaugural season "appeared to be just what the league asked for on the field," but now "comes the important next step: selling the league to sponsors and fans," according to Billy Witz of the N.Y. TIMES. L.A. Sol MF Shannon Boxx: "On the field, it was a great success. We had the best players in the U.S. and some of the best international players. I think we were able to make the game pretty." WPS Commissioner Tonya Antonucci: "We have a product that is second to none. We have an awareness in the market place now, so corporate partnerships will go from an introduction of who we hope to be to 'we know you exist and we're impressed with your product and let's have a conversation.' From a business standpoint, we can say we're real, we're here. It's a tangible product now." Antonucci said that expectations for growth "are modest, but in three to five years she can envision the WPS championship being played at The Home Depot Center and the lower bowl -- which seats about 20,000 -- being full" (NYTIMES.com, 8/24).

    ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT: SI.com's Andrea Canales wrote in WPS' inaugural season, there were "many aspects of the organization and play that were carried off fairly well, especially given the current difficult economic climate." But the "biggest positive" for the league is the "potential for improvement in key areas." The credibility of Saturday's championship game was "damaged by poor timing on the part of WPS, which bumped the final against the start of the UEFA Women's Championship." The format of the final was also "questionable, as it granted the regular-season points winner home-field advantage and a bye into the final, but left the squad idle while the opponent was decided via a playoff system" (SI.com, 8/24).

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