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Operators of Monmouth Park Say Sports Betting Delay Cost Them $139 Million

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Dennis Drazin, chairman and CEO of Darby Development LLC, operators of Monmouth Park Racetrack, speaks to the media about the historic sports betting case decided by the Supreme Court on May 14. Credits: Bill Denver/EQUI-PHOTO
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OCEANPORT, N.J. — The New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, which operates Monmouth Park is seeking damages for lost revenues it claims was the result of a long legal battle over sports betting.

The association filed a motion seeking damages in the New Jersey District Court in Trenton on May 24.

The Supreme Court recently ruled that a federal law banning sports betting was unconstitutional.

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The association is seeking judgment against the National Collegiate Athletic Association (“NCAA”), the National Basketball Association (“NBA”), the National Football League (“NFL”), the National Hockey League (“NHL”) and the Office of the Commissioner of Baseball (“MLB”) which had sued to block attempts at bringing sports betting to New Jersey.

 In the brief submitted with the motion the attorneys wrote that for more than three and one-half years, in reliance on an unconstitutional federal statute (the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act) and 10 false sworn statements, the sports leagues were able to prevent the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, Inc. “from doing what it had a legal right to do — accept bets on the Leagues’ games and on the games of other sports organizations, including golf, tennis, soccer, auto racing, boxing and ultimate fighting. In doing so, the Leagues knowingly caused tremendous damage to Monmouth Park.”

According to the brief:

Between Oct. 26, 2014 and May 14, 2018 when the Supreme Court issued its ruling, Monmouth Park could have made $139,749,842 on its sportsbook. This sum does not include other damages Monmouth Park has suffered as the result of having been prevented from accepting sports bets.

The lost revenue is based on figures from Nevada, the only place where sports betting has been allowed.

On Oct. 24, 2014, the Leagues obtained an injunction preventing Monmouth Park from conducting sports betting. The Leagues were ordered to post a surety bond in the amount of $3.4 million to be paid if it was later determined that Monmouth Park had been wrongfully enjoined.

The association seeks to be awarded the $3.4 million plus interest; judgment declaring that the Leagues acted in bad faith by wrongfully blocking the NJTHA from operating a sports betting venue at Monmouth Park; and ordering accelerated discovery and an evidentiary hearing to determine the damages sustained by the NJTHA over and above the bond amount together with counsel fees and costs of suit as the result of the Leagues’ bad faith.

“The Leagues’ quest to prevent Monmouth Park from accepting bets on the Leagues’ games and the games of others first began in 2012 and did not stop until the Supreme Court’s May 14, 2018 decision forced them to do so. 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 brief says.

The leagues claimed that sports betting would result in the fixing of games and would suffer damages if expanded sports betting was allowed.

“At the very same time as the Leagues were convincing this Court of the ‘imperative’ need to stop the spread of sports betting they were doing the exact opposite by actively fueling and profiting from the rapid expansion of sports betting throughout the United States and internationally. Behind this Court’s back, the Leagues have aggressively promoted and facilitated the spread of betting on both the outcome of the Leagues’ games as well as the statistical performances, via fantasy wagering, of the Leagues’ own players in the Leagues’ own games,” the brief says.

The association’s motion is scheduled to be heard on June 18. 

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