Pro and college sports leagues lost the war, but recently won a battle by holding back Monmouth Park and the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association (NJTHA) in a lawsuit.
On Friday, US District Judge Michael Shipp issued a decision denying the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association (NJTHA) a $3.4 million injunction bond plus “interest and damages,” stemming from a lawsuit originating in 2014.
Small victory for professional and collegiate sports
In October 2014, Shipp filed a temporary restraining order against Monmouth Park prohibiting it from offering sports betting. At that time, Shipp ordered the leagues to compensate the track with a $3.4 million bond until the date of the trial which was scheduled for November.
The $3.4 million amounted to roughly four weeks of operational cost. However, the issue was not resolved until May 14, 2018 when the US Supreme Court did away with PASPA.
In order to recoup years of lost revenue, the NJTHA filed a suit against the NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB and NCAA, asking for upwards of $150 million in damages.
Motion made, motion denied
Here’s a passage from that complaint:
During the intervening years the Leagues’ actions nearly put Monmouth Park out of business, inflicted significant financial and emotional hardship on hundreds of innocent Monmouth Park workers, and jeopardized the continued viability of New Jersey’s entire equine industry, including its many horse farms and related open spaces. The Leagues succeeded in blocking Monmouth Park from conducting sports betting by relying on what the Supreme Court decided is an unconstitutional statute and by submitting ten false sworn statements.
Shipp denied those damages largely because sports betting was not legal at the federal level four years ago.
Here’s more from the nine-page decision:
“Here, in 2014, PASPA was constitutionally valid. Thus, the law as it existed in 2014 clearly favored the Leagues, and it would be unreasonable for the court to allow NJTHA to recover under the injunction bond in light of the Leagues’ correct interpretation that the 2014 Repealer Law authorized sports betting in violation of the governing law at the time. The Court, accordingly finds good cause exists to deny NJTHA damages under the injunction bond,” Shipp wrote in his decision.
Fight will continue for Monmouth Park
According to Dennis Drazin of Monmouth Park, the group plans to appeal the decision. NJTHA represents Monmouth Park and the state’s other tracks.
The win is very significant to the five sports groups. Had the NJTHA proved victorious, it could have opened the door for other bookmakers to file similar lawsuits.
Back in May, Drazin had this to say:
“We believe the leagues acted in bad faith trying to stop New Jersey from taking advantage of sports betting while at the same time they were pursuing fantasy sports through their equity positions with the FanDuel and DraftKings of the world, playing games in jurisdictions that permit gambling on sports, all while telling the courts it was an integrity issue.”
Although an appeal is in order, Monmouth Park will surely have its hands full trying to prove damages beyond the initial $3.4 million bond.
Neither current New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy nor former Gov. Chris Christie are part of the suit.