The New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association (NJTHA) is expected to continue its fight to receive $3.4 million from the NCAA and “big four” professional sports leagues in the United States.
In January of 2012, then-New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) signed legislation allowing sports betting in the Garden State after the gaming initiative passed a voter referendum two months earlier. The bill allowed sports bets to be wagered legally at Atlantic City casinos and horse racetracks.
However, the NCAA, along with the NFL, MLB, NBA, and NHL, successfully intervened with a lawsuit. District Court Judge Michael Shipp in 2013 sided with the leagues that the federal Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA) — which banned full-scale sports betting everywhere but Nevada — superseded New Jersey law.
Monmouth Park, regardless, moved forward with building a William Hill-branded sportsbook. When the facility was set to open in October of 2014, Shipp issued a temporary one-month restraining order that blocked its commencement.
The leagues put up a $3.4 million bond to secure losses the William Hill sportsbook might incur during Shipp’s order and the case’s review. When the order expired, Shipp voided New Jersey’s sports betting law.
In 2014, New Jersey brought a lawsuit challenging PASPA on grounds that it violated anti-commandeering interpretations of the Tenth Amendment. After losing in lower courts, the US Supreme Court agreed to hear Christie v. National Collegiate Athletic Association, et al, in June of 2017.
Eleven months later, PASPA was deemed unconstitutional by the country’s highest court in a 7-2 vote. New Jersey horsemen celebrated, but also sought to recoup losses incurred by not having sports betting in the six years since the state had moved to legalize the gambling activity.
Earlier this month, District Court Judge Freda Wolfson denied the NJTHA’s lawsuit seeking $140 million in damages. However, the judge said she will consider at a later time whether the horsemen are entitled to collect the $3.4 million bond posted in October of 2014.
No hearing date has yet been set.
The NJTHA was founded in 1988 and represents owners and trainers in the state. The association says it promotes the industry and “the common business interests of members in matters before government agencies, racetrack management, and other industry organizations.”
Monmouth Park is owned and operated by the NJTHA, New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, and Darby Development.
New Jersey Betting Boom
New Jersey has emerged as the richest sports betting market in the country. Garden State oddsmakers took $931.6 million in wagers in November, the all-time best month for any legal market in the US.
Oddsmakers have reported sports betting gross gaming revenue of $332.1 million in 11 months in 2020. However, Monmouth Park has captured little market share — just six percent. The FanDuel sportsbook at the Meadowlands racetrack is the dominant player, the facility in Northern New Jersey reporting GGR of $173.3 million in year-to-date sports betting win.
A third sportsbook at a New Jersey horse racetrack — Freehold Raceway operated by Parx — commenced brick-and-mortar operations in September.
Mobile commands the vast majority of sports bets placed in New Jersey. Of the more than $5 billion wagered, $4.6 billion has been facilitated online.
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