You can now bet on NFL games in Delaware -- just don't expect to win.
The state passed a law earlier this year allowing sports betting. The professional sports leagues and the NCAA sued, and a federal appeals court ruled against single-game wagering and said the state could only offer parlay wagering, in which a bettor must correctly pick at least three games against the point spread to win.
So, with a little help from the feds, Delaware swiftly went from being "The First State" to "A Fools' Paradise."
What, you think anyone out there's making a living betting six-team parlays?
Picking any NFL game against the spread is a 50-50 proposition. To pick three of them right, that's like guessing a coin flip correctly three straight times. Your chances of doing that are 1 in 8, and a three-team parlay pays only 6½-1. On a four-team parlay, the odds are 16-1 against you and it pays 11-1; on a five-teamer, it's 32-1 against you and it pays 20-1, and so on.
I think the discriminating reader can quickly ascertain here why bookies drive BMWs and bettors ride the bus.
(Incidentally, using faulty coin-flip logic is how I ended up getting wedded to
Anyway, it's goofy. Single-game wagering -- where the gambler has at least an illusion of getting his money back -- is not allowed in Delaware but three- to-12-team parlay wagering -- which steals away suckers' money even faster -- is allowed.
Then again, it proves once again that, in America, you can be a little bit pregnant.
In America, cigarettes can be legally sold but cannot be advertised on radio or TV.
(To get around this, tobacco companies place billboards along prominent camera lines in ballparks and drape cars and drivers with their logo in NASCAR races.)
In America, alcohol can be legally sold and can be advertised on radio and TV, but no one can be seen consuming the beverage during commercials.
(I always think of this when tuning in to
In America -- and this one always steams me the most, for some reason -- you or I would go to jail for running a numbers game, but my state government does it daily with its pervasive lotto and lousy payouts.
Which brings us back to the very-pregnant NFL, the godfather of wealth, power and hypocrisy in America.
The NFL fought against Delaware's sports-betting law because the NFL opposes gambling.
The NFL's longtime success is largely fueled by multiple forms of gambling: the point spread, weekly office pools and, now, fantasy football. The betting line meant that viewers would keep watching even after the game's outcome was determined because the point spread was still in doubt. Fantasy football, brilliantly and insidiously, now ensures that many fans always watch until the final gun.
The NFL, though, distances itself from most of this activity. The league, for instance, doesn't allow its broadcast partners to discuss the point spread.
Yet last week, the NFL assessed $125,000 in fines to the New York Jets and former coach Eric Mangini for lying on injury reports that exist ALMOST ENTIRELY FOR GAMBLERS.
So excuse me if I cast a jaundiced eye at the NFL's public stance on gambling while it privately fills its coffers with the public's gambling money.
Meanwhile, Delaware gamblers will monitor
You can bet on it.
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