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Politicians sometimes spend years trying to lure pro sports to their jurisidictions. Delaware Gov. Jack Markell needed only a couple of months to bring the National Football League to his state. The league isn't in Dover to play games, however. The News Journal reports that the governor's plan to legalize sports gambling has met fierce opposition:
In a letter sent Friday to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who opposes Markell's proposal, the governor wrote that the league allows ESPN and other networks to "promote gambling on NFL games."
Under threat of punitive action from the National Collegiate Athletic Association and a legal showdown with the NFL, Markell told Goodell that Delaware could bring legitimacy and legal oversight to the spread of illegal gambling cultivated by broadcast promotions.
The gambit also could keep Delaware solvent, Markell argues, by establishing Delaware as a leading East Coast entertainment venue with the sort of gambling footprint that former Gov. Ruth Ann Minner, who protected the state's horse-racing casinos from in-state competition, adamantly opposed.
With no NCAA Division I powerhouse, no major professional sports franchise and a yearly budget about one-third the size of the NFL and NCAA's combined annual revenues, Markell faces a daunting task. NFL lobbyists and lawyers already are circulating through Dover's Legislative Hall, and an administration official said the league is hinting it might bring NFL players to Delaware to lobby against Markell's plan.
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