New Jersey’s Monmouth Park looks to Sue Sports Leagues now that the Supreme Court has legalized Sports Betting

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing efforts by New Jersey to legalize sports betting. Four years after numerous legal losses and failed attempts, they finally presented a winning argument to the Supreme Court to overturn the existing legislation that limited sports betting to Las Vegas. The driving force behind all those legal defeats was the coalition of professional sports leagues, the NCAA and even the DOJ. And now that the Supreme Court has declared the federal law unconstitutional, there are those that believe the sports leagues should have to pay for the lost revenue due over the years. An online source explains: 

New Jersey’s Monmouth Park is suing US sport’s major leagues over blocking betting in the garden state for the last four years. New Jersey’s first legal sportsbook venue is asking for $150 million from Major League Baseball, National Basketball Association, NFL and the National Collegiate Athletic Association. 

Officials for Monmouth Park said that their relationship between the gambling industry and the sport’s leagues is evidence enough to show proof of revenues lost because of the blocking. The courts is waiting on a formal response from the leagues. They have until July 16^th to file their answer. The Leagues called the request from Monmouth “meritless, if not frivolous”.

Beyond the at-face nature of this $150 million dollar lawsuit being meritless, a deeper look into the issue reveals exactly why this is beyond a long shot. An online source explains: 

The NFL and its allies have doubled down on an effort to prevent Monmouth Park not only from collecting $150 million in damages for being deprived of legal sports betting for a span of 3½ years, but also to deny the racetrack any portion of a $3.4 million injunction bond.

The crux of the case is that, in retrospect, the U.S. Supreme Court found that a New Jersey law passed in 2012, the Sports Wagering Act, actually was valid because the federal law improperly “commandeered” most states into preventing sports betting. But along the way U.S. District Court judge Michael Shipp disagreed with New Jersey, twice, as did a U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals, twice, and a full panel of the Third Circuit, once. Thus the case took six years, only to be turned on its head at the highest level.

The leagues note that the filings by the horsemen “cites no authority for the patently absurd proposition that reliance on a duly enacted federal statute constitutes bad faith because the Supreme Court subsequently invalidated the statute as unconstitutional years after that reliance. Congress enacted PASPA in 1992, and, for more than 25 years, the clear language of the statute expressly provided the Leagues with a cause of action to obtain injunctive relief to address violations of the statute. Until May 2018, every challenge to the constitutionality of PASPA — both before and after the Leagues relied on the statute to seek a TRO [temporary restraining order]— had been rejected.”

“NJTHA has not demonstrated that, given the state of the law on PASPA in 2014, it had a right to operate a sports betting venue at Monmouth Park in October and November 2014, when it was restrained by the TRO from doing so. That the Supreme Court struck down PASPA more than three years later in 2018 is insufficient to summarily conclude that NJTHA had the right to operate a sports book in 2014.” Remember, the law in play in 2014 — the “deregulation” version — was not validated by the Supreme Court. In the fall of the 2014, Monmouth Park wanted to offer privatized sports betting. No court has ever said they could do it that way. It’s an interesting wrinkle that the horsemen may be hard pressed to overcome.

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