Monmouth Park Racetrack in New Jersey has failed in its attempt to sue the sports leagues for damages over their longstanding opposition to sports betting.
A lawsuit filed in May by the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association (NJTHA), which holds the ground lease on Monmouth Park, claimed that the leagues’ determination to thwart New Jersey’s sports betting ambitions at every turn caused upwards of $150 million’s worth of economic damage to the track.
In 2014, New Jersey decided it would decriminalize sports betting after its 2012 attempt to legalize it was blocked in the courts by the leagues. Monmouth Park was days away from launching its sports book when a US federal judge granted the leagues’ request for a restraining order to ban it from taking bets.
The track wasn’t able to launch the sports book until June 2018, a month after the US Supreme Court shot down PASPA, the federal law that banned state-sanctioned sports betting.
Financial and Emotional Hardship
“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 lawsuit declared.
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.”
The lawsuit also argued that the leagues acted in bad faith because they were making millions from daily fantasy sports sponsorship deals.
PASPA Was Law
But on Friday US District Judge Michael Shipp — the very judge who had issued the injunction in 2014 — turned down the track’s claim for damages on the grounds that PASPA was the law four years ago, regardless of its subsequent axing.
“Here, in 2014, PASPA was constitutionally valid,” wrote Shipp. “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.”
Monmouth Park CEO Dennis Drazin told NJ Online Gambling this week that an appeal was already “in the works.”
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