NJ Horsemen Settle Sports Betting Suit With Leagues, Just Not For $150 Million

Posted on January 15, 2021

A multi-million dollar lawsuit arising from a years-long legal battle to overturn the federal ban on sports betting may have reached its conclusion.

The Associated Press is reporting that the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association (NJTHA) has come to an agreement with the major professional sports leagues and the NCAA, according to a judge’s order entered Monday in Trenton.

Here are the details of the settlement agreement:

Recaping the NJTHA lawsuit

The lawsuit goes back to 2014 when the NJTHA sought to open a sportsbook at the Monmouth Park Racetrack. New Jersey lawmakers made sports betting legal that year, but the federal Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 prohibited it.

A judge sided with the leagues and issued a restraining order to prevent New Jersey from enacting its law. However, the leagues were required to set up a $3.4 million bond to secure losses the track might suffer while the restraining order was in place.

New Jersey took its case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. In May 2018, the nation’s highest court found PASPA unconstitutional. This ruling paved the way for states to regulate and legalize single-game sports betting.

Show me the (sports betting) money!

U.S. District Court Judge Freda Wolfson did not specify the amount of the settlement. The settlement should be finalized within the next 30 days.

Last month, Wolfson issued an order in which she expressed skepticism that the horsemen’s association had suffered damages equal to the bond amount during the month the restraining order was in effect.

In the same order, she rejected the group’s attempt to recover damages as high as $150 million. That figure, according to the AP, represented lost revenue for being prevented from offering sports betting at the track for the three and a half years between the issuance of the restraining order and the Supreme Court’s 2018 decision.

‘Pleased to conclude’

The NJTHA argued that the leagues acted in bad faith in 2014 when they applied for the restraining order because the leagues were already promoting and endorsing businesses that made millions from fantasy sports games that relied on individual player performances. The leagues denied those claims.

“The New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, National Collegiate Athletic Association, National Basketball Association, National Football League, National Hockey League and Major League Baseball have resolved all disputes arising out of their litigation concerning the legalization of sports gambling in the State of New Jersey,” Anthony Dreyer, an attorney representing the leagues, said in an email to the AP. “The parties are pleased to conclude this matter.”

An attorney representing the NJTHA declined to comment to the AP.

NJ sports betting keeps growing

Since PASPA was overturned nearly three years ago, the New Jersey sports betting industry has grown by leaps and bounds.

More than $10.8 billion has been legally wagered in the 30 months New Jersey has permitted sports betting. Atlantic City casinos, the state’s licensed racetracks and online sports betting operators have reported more than $725.56 million in revenue over the same period.

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David Danzis

David Danzis is an award-winning journalist who has covered business, politics, government, education, and sports in New Jersey. Most recently, he wrote about Atlantic City casinos, online gaming, and sports betting for The Press of Atlantic City. David is a graduate of Rutgers University.

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