Monmouth Park Sues Major Sports Leagues for Damages From Sports Betting Obstruction

Posted on: May 25, 2018, 07:49h. 

Last updated on: May 25, 2018, 08:03h.

New Jersey’s Monmouth Park racetrack is suing the four major sports leagues and the NCAA for damages for thwarting its ambitions to offer sports betting in 2014.

The William Hill Sports Bar at Monmouth Park
The William Hill Sports Bar at Monmouth Park which is likely to take its first bet soon, almost four years after it was built. The NJTHA believes it would have made $130 million had it been permitted to operate since 2014. (Image: Monmouth Park)

The leagues repeatedly blocked New Jersey’s attempt to regulate sports betting within its borders, citing PASPA, a law the US Supreme Court rejected as unconstitutional earlier this month.

The lawsuit filed Thursday by the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association (NJTHA), which holds the ground lease on Monmouth Park, claims that the leagues cost the track at least $130 million in lost revenues.

“… 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,” claims the suit.

Bad Faith

In October 2014, Monmouth Park was just days away from opening its William Hill sports book when the leagues successfully filed for a restraining order, temporarily banning it from taking bets. The NJTHA argues the leagues acted in bad faith since, at the time, they were making millions through endorsement deals with daily fantasy sports sites.

New Jersey residents voted to legalize sports betting at its race tracks and casinos back in 2011, two years after the state had first filed suit against PASPA, claiming it violated its Tenth Amendment rights.

In 2012, the leagues successfully sued to block the state from opening sports books. They sued again in 2014, after New Jersey, instead of authorizing sports betting, passed legislation to decriminalize it, and again the courts sided with the leagues. It was the state’s appeal of that decision which led, eventually, to the highest court in the land and the striking down of PASPA.

Do the Math

“When you add up the numbers [from lost earnings since 2014] it comes to $150 million to $200 million, and it may be more,” Dennis Drazin, a consultant for the NJTHA, told the Associated Press.

That number doesn’t come out of air,’’ he said. “I’m sure the leagues will have something to say about it.  We know the leagues are wrong. It’s pretty clear we are entitled to damages.’’

The suit is seeking a hearing evidentiary hearing to determine the total damages owed by the leagues.

Vindicated by the Supreme Court, the New Jersey legislature is moving quickly to make sports betting a reality, aiming to vote on regulations in both houses on June 7. Monmouth Park’s sports book is ready to go the moment it does.