The documents, which cover sports betting legalization cases from 2003 and 2013 show attorneys, including the new U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, using the skill defense in arguments for and against sports betting.
Though they’ve been part of the public record for over a decade, the documents were only recently discovered by reporters at ESPN.com.
In 2013 case of United States v. DiCristina Lynch wrote a legal brief saying:
Sports betting … involves ‘substantial [not slight] skill.’ Sports bettors can employ superior knowledge of the games, teams, and players in order to exploit odds that do not reflect the true likelihoods of the possible outcomes.
More shocking than the Attorney General’s statements are statements from a D.C. law firm hired to represent the NFL in 2003 in a case preventing the State of Delaware from introducing a football-based lottery. In that case lawyers said skill-based games were against Delaware law and could not be implemented saying:
Sports betting combines both skill and chance, but the element of chance, though perhaps significant, is not ‘dominant.’ Typical sports bettors gather and analyze information, sometimes in significant quantities, about the nuances of the sports on which they bet.
In the Delaware case, judges sided with the NFL saying that sports betting was indeed a game of skill and not allowed under state law. Under Federal law, however, the game of skill distinction is practically the sole criteria used to determine whether games like poker can be played legally in the US.
While these new documents reveal plenty about the hypocritical nature of American sports betting opponents, their impact on pending sports betting cases, like the one in New Jersey, remains to be seen.