A case in New Jersey dating back to 2014 might find its resolution next year, after a federal judge ruled against the additional damages claim from the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association (NJTHA).
Long-Lasting Court Saga
The NJTHA sought to recover around $150 million in damages from the major sports leagues, the National Basketball Association (NBA), National Football Association (NFL), National Hockey League (NHL), Major League Baseball (MLB) and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).
The lawsuit dates back to the early days of sports betting in New Jersey, when legislators passed into law a bill which approved wagering, despite the federal law prohibiting it everywhere but Nevada and three other states.
The leagues filed a suit against then Gov. Chris Christie, NJTHA and William Hill USA, arguing the state law which allowed gambling at horse tracks and casinos violated federal law, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act /PASPA/.
The association claimed the leagues’ actions prevented the Monmouth Park Racetrack from offering sports betting for more than 3 years before the US Supreme Court legalized sports betting in 2018. NJTHA filed an additional $150 million damage claim stating that the leagues acted in bad faith, while at the same time promoting and endorsing businesses which generated millions from fantasy sports games relying of individual player performances.
Additional Damages Claim Denied
US District Judge Freda Wolfson issued a court ruling December 3 denying NJTHA’s claim for additional damages, leaving the decision whether it is entitled to the full amount of the $3.4 million bond after another hearing. The bond was put up by the leagues in 2014 after a federal judge issued a temporary 28-day restraining order and stopped Monmouth Park’s advanced plans to open a sports betting parlor.
Back in November 2014, when the restraining order expired, the judge voided the sports betting law passed in New Jersey on the grounds that it violated the 1992 federal law, but in 2018 the US Supreme Court struck down PASPA and paved the way for any state to offer sports betting.
In September 2019, the Third Circuit issued a ruling in favor of the NJTHA, as the majority of the panel found that because the racing group had been improperly subjected to a restraining order for 28 days, that it was “wrongfully enjoined” under federal rules of procedure, hence, a federal judge should not have denied bond damages.
Judge Wolfson did not set a date for the hearing but the leagues said in their court filings they would challenge the calculations made by NJTHA regarding the lost revenue for the time of the restraining order.