PASPA Case Back In Court, As Leagues Want End To NJ Horsemen’s $150M Claim

Posted on: June 18, 2020, 01:31h. 

Last updated on: June 18, 2020, 10:47h.

The PASPA case has long been decided But the country’s top sports leagues and the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association remain in court, as the sides now battle over damages.

New Jersey Horsemen PASPA
NFL fans study the odds in an undated photo of the William Hill sportsbook at Monmouth Park in New Jersey (Image: Monmouth Park)

The horsemen who would have benefited from a sportsbook at Monmouth Park years before the Supreme Court ruled in their favor claim they’re entitled to the $3.4 million bond the NCAA, NBA, NFL, NHL, and MLB put up after the leagues won a restraining order in 2014.

In addition, they seek $150 million more from the leagues. That’s what the horsemen say they likely would have made if the Oceanport racetrack had a sportsbook for the 42 months it took for the Supreme Court to finally rule in their favor.

On Monday, the leagues filed a motion to dismiss the horsemen’s claims for the nine-figure sum and oppose the NJTHA’s motion for an immediate judgment on the bond money.

It’s the latest legal salvo in the six-year case and the first since the Supreme Court opted not to intervene in the case a month ago. That decision came a day after the two-year anniversary of the historic PASPA ruling that legalized sports betting across the country.

Leagues: Horsemen Must Prove Case

In Monday’s filing, the leagues’ attorneys say the horsemen are not automatically entitled to the full $3.4 million bond, noting that the federal appellate court – which last September reversed a lower court ruling keeping the NJTHA from getting the bond – said in that ruling the horsemen would still need to prove their case in district court.

Just as it did when it first sought relief under the bond in 2018, NJTHA wrongly contends that it is entitled to automatic recovery of the full bond amount (plus interest) without discovery or having to prove its actual damages in subsequent proceedings. NJTHA’s argument is meritless, if not frivolous, in numerous respects,” the leagues argue in their motion.

The leagues also claim that their decision to not challenge the full damage calculations the horsemen offered is “false, if not extraordinarily disingenuous.”

How We Got Here

After New Jersey passed its second attempt at a sports betting law in 2014, the leagues took then-Gov. Chris Christie (R) and the state to court in an effort to block a sportsbook from opening. They cited PASPA, the federal law which allowed sports betting in just four states at the time, as the reason.

The leagues sought an injunction against the state, and received one. At the time, the court required the sports leagues to put up a bond to offset the lost income the horsemen would have received if Monmouth Park opened a sportsbook.

The temporary injunction became permanent once the court ruled in the league’s favor nearly six years ago. That injunction stayed in place until the Supreme Court made its decision on May 14, 2018 ruling PASPA was unconstitutional.

The leagues have challenged the horsemen’s assertion that they deserve compensation for the entire span of the lawsuit, saying the lower courts ruled correctly. The horsemen have countered saying the leagues have acted in “bad faith,” saying six years ago that their businesses would have been harmed by the expansion of legalized sports betting.