Racetrack still seeking damages over bar on sports betting

NEWARK, N.J. — The New Jersey racetrack behind the successful challenge to a federal sports gambling ban is continuing its attempt to get monetary damages from the sports leagues that opposed it.

In a court filing Thursday, the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association reiterated its position that the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in May invalidating the ban means a temporary restraining order in October 2014 blocking sports betting at Monmouth Park Racetrack shouldn’t have been granted.

The association is seeking the payment, with interest, of a $3.4 million bond that the four major pro sports leagues and the NCAA posted in 2014 to secure losses that might be suffered during the four weeks the temporary restraining order was in effect.

In addition, the association wants roughly $140 million in damages, a figure it claims is lost revenue from being barred from offering sports gambling from October 2014 until the Supreme Court’s decision.

The leagues argued in a filing last month that the horsemen’s association isn’t legally entitled to the bond or any additional damages. By October 2014, they wrote, a district court and an appeals court had already ruled against New Jersey. The restraining order was rightly granted, they wrote, “on the ground that the Leagues were likely to prevail on the merits of their claim” that New Jersey’s sports gambling law violated 1992’s Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act.

The leagues also deny the association’s claim that they acted in bad faith in seeking the restraining order because they opposed expanding legal sports gambling at the same time they were investing in and promoting daily fantasy sports and holding games in places like London, where gambling is legal.

Central to the association’s argument is that the Supreme Court’s 2018 ruling can be considered retroactively in relation to the temporary restraining order.

“On May 14, 2018, the Supreme Court held PASPA to be unconstitutional,” the association wrote in Thursday’s filing. “That holding meant that PASPA could not have invalidated New Jersey’s 2014 law. With the benefit of hindsight, at all times relevant herein, the NJTHA had the legal right to conduct sports betting at Monmouth Park.”

A U.S. district court judge in Trenton will rule on the matter. No date was set for a ruling.

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