Monmouth Park suing major sports leagues

10 July 2018

Monmouth Park, New Jersey’s first legal sportsbook venue, is suing US sport’s major leagues for more than $150m (€128m) over their part in the blocking of betting in the state over the last four years.

Owners of the racetrack named the National Collegiate Athletic Association and professional sports leagues, including American football's NFL, basketball's NBA and Major League Baseball, in court papers issued in May, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

The New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association Inc claims the organisations “wrongfully” blocked Monmouth Park from taking wagers since New Jersey attempted to legalise sports betting in 2014. The major sports leagues filed a suit attempting to block New Jersey from offering legalised wagering on sporting events just days after Governor Chris Christie signed a law that would have repealed the historic ban. After they gave oral evidence, a New Jersey District Court ruled that the Sports Wagering Act of 2014 violated the federal Professional and Amateur Sports Betting Act (PASPA).

Monmouth Park officials said the developing relationship between the leagues and the gambling industry illustrated that the evidence they gave to the District Court was false. It estimated that it was denied $150m in revenue because of the ban.

“The commissioners falsely described to this court in meticulous detail the catastrophic consequences they swore would follow from the spread of sports betting,” the racetrack’s attorney, Ronald Riccio, said in the court filing. “None of this was close to being true.

“Behind this court’s back, each commissioner’s league and team owners made huge profits from the spread of sports betting, both on the outcome of their games and their players’ performances in their games.”

The leagues have until July 16 to file a formal response to Monmouth Park’s claim. In a letter to the judge hearing the matter, the leagues called Monmouth’s request for compensation “meritless, if not frivolous”.

Last month, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy ceremonially placed the US state's first legal sports wagers as betting went live at Monmouth Park.

Picture credit: User:TheBluZebra