Group Sues Sports Leagues For Almost $150M From NJ Sports Betting Case

Posted By Dustin Gouker on May 24, 2018 - Last Updated on May 30, 2018

The New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association wants to be reimbursed by the sports organizations that stopped the state’s racetracks and casinos from offering sports betting for years.

The NJTHA filed suit in New Jersey US District Court on Thursday, claiming nearly $150 million in damages from the court case over the federal sports betting ban. New Jersey defeated the NCAA, NFL, NBA, NHL and Major League Baseball in a decision last Monday striking down the federal ban on single-game wagering.

Now the NJTHA is suing them.

The state’s two racetracks — Monmouth Park and The Meadowlands — would have been allowed to offer sports wagering starting in 2012 if not for the efforts of the aforementioned leagues to stop NJ. Of the two, only Monmouth offers thoroughbred racing.

You can read the full filing here.

The NJTHA pulls few punches, saying the NCAA et al lied in sworn statements:

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 Leagues succeeded in blocking Monmouth Park from conducting sports betting by relying on what the Supreme Court decided is an unconstitutional statute and by submitting ten false sworn statements.

Why $150 million? That’s the amount that the NJTHA estimates Monmouth Park would have won during the most recent iteration of the federal court case, should it have been allowed to offer sports wagering.

The leagues saying one thing, and doing another…

The NJTHA says while trying to fight NJ sports betting, the leagues were doing the opposite of what they said in court.

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.


It is the epitome of bad faith for the Leagues in-house counsel to certify in a Verified Complaint, and for the Commissioners to falsely swear before this Court, that if sports betting is allowed to spread it would be disastrous for the Leagues, while at the same time outside this Court the Leagues and some of its team owners have hypocritically facilitated the spread of sports betting.

The NBA and MLB, of course, have led a lobbying effort to regulate wagering in states across the country.

Integrity fees make an appearance

The NJTHA makes reference to that lobbying and the leagues’ desire to get an “integrity fee” — or a cut of all wagers in legal sports betting markets — in New Jersey and beyond:

Most recently, despite a repudiation by a clear majority of the Supreme Court of all of the Leagues’ legal arguments, they have had the audacity to lobby the State of New Jersey to enact a law that would compel Monmouth Park to share with the Leagues its sports betting revenues, as well as the sports betting revenues of others. The Leagues have the nerve to call this bid for a share of sports betting revenues an “integrity fee.” The Leagues’ conduct is shameless. Their hypocrisy has no limits.

Damages for Monmouth Park

The NJTHA alleges that the aforementioned sports leagues created nine figures in damages by stopping sports betting from occurring at Monmouth via the case recently ended by the US Supreme Court:

…the Leagues knowingly caused tremendous damage to Monmouth Park. For example, lost estimated sportsbook win that Monmouth Park could have had during the period October 26, 2014 – May 14, 2018 is $149,977,173. This sum does not include other damages Monmouth Park has suffered as the result of having been prevented from accepting sports bets.

What does the NJTHA want?

The NJTHA seeks the following relief: (1) judgment, jointly and severally, against the Leagues and their surety in the bond amount of $3.4 million plus interest, (2) judgment declaring that the Leagues acted in bad faith by wrongfully blocking the NJTHA from operating a sports betting venue at Monmouth Park; and (3) 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 lied on sports betting?

Well, the NJTHA alleges they did, on more than a handful of occasions.

What were those occasions? From the suit:

  • First, the Leagues submitted five false sworn Declarations to this Court from the Commissioners of the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, and the President of the NCAA (collectively, “Commissioners”)
  • Second, the Leagues filed five false affidavits from in-house counsel for each of the Leagues swearing that the “factual information” in the Complaint was “true and correct” based on their “personal knowledge.”

What the NFL said

Five of them come from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in sworn testimony. Read the lawsuit (pages 21-22) for all of them, but here’s an example:

“So we take that — that’s why we keep a distance from gambling and we oppose gambling and we think it’s wrong for the game, because that is a threat that we want to make sure does not influence the outcome of our games.”

The NFL recently said it supports federal regulation of sports gambling, a departure from its long-held stance that any kind of sports betting is bad.

The lawsuit also notes that “two NFL team owners, Jerry Jones of the Dallas Cowboys and Robert Kraft of the New England Patriots, own equity stakes in DraftKings.” In addition, the lawsuit notes that the NFL freely plays games in London, which has legal sports gambling.

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Other leagues, too

The NBA doesn’t dodge the ire of the NJTHA. This quote from former Commissioner David Stern is included in the suit:

“New Jersey’s contemplated sports betting scheme threatens to harm irreparably not only the unique relationship that the NBA enjoys with its existing fans, but also the league’s potential relationship with future fans, who may never form allegiances to a particular team because they are drawn instead to the competing interest of the betting line and the money that can be made from it.”

And here’s former MLB Commissioner Bud Selig:

“The spread of sports betting, including the introduction of sports betting in New Jersey, would threaten to damage irreparably the integrity of and public confidence in, MLB.”

And NCAA President Mark Emmert:

“The spread of betting on intercollegiate athletics, including the introduction of sports betting as proposed by the State of New Jersey, threatens to damage irreparably the integrity of, and public confidence in, NCAA athletic competition.”

All now say on the record that regulated sports betting is actually better than the previous status quo of a de facto ban on legal wagering in the US.

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Dustin Gouker

Dustin Gouker has been a sports journalist for more than 15 years, working as a reporter, editor and designer -- including stops at The Washington Post and the D.C. Examiner. He has played poker recreationally for his entire adult life and has written about online poker and the online gambling industry since 2008.

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