SCOTUS denies to hear NJ restitution case

  • The New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association is seeking millions of dollars damages from the NCAA, MLB, NBA, NHL and NFL for preventing them from operating a sportsbook at Monmouth Park from October 2014 to May 2018.
  • Despite legal precedent against the plaintiffs’ claims, quirks of this case could work in the NJTHA’s favor.
  • There is a good chance this dispute will be resolved via an out of court settlement.

WASHINGTON – On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court announced that it would not be taking on a restitution case between the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association’s (NJTHA) and the four major American professional sports leagues and the NCAA.

Now the case will return to a New Jersey district court, although the court’s ruling will almost certainly be appealed no matter which party wins.

The NJTHA contends that the leagues conspired to prevent them from opening a sportsbook from October 2014 to May 2018 and is seeking damages. These damages could total anywhere from $3.4 million to $150 million—the horsemen’s estimation of the value of four years of revenues.

The organization operates the Monmouth Park Racetrack and had planned to launch a sportsbook at the track in 2014, after the New Jersey legislature passed a sports betting law.

The law was deemed illegal at the time and remained that way until the Supreme Court’s landmark PASPA decision.

In response, the NCAA, MLB, NBA, NHL and NFL filed a lawsuit and received an injunction against the NJTHA’s after posting a $3.4 million bond.

The leagues were again seeking a quick resolution to this restitution case by appealing to the Supreme Court, but the Court’s decision to decline the case will assure a protracted legal battle.

Which Party Will Win The Decision?

At first glance, this looks like an open and shut case. New Jersey’s sports betting law was illegal at the time and there is no legal precedent for awarding damages based on the past effects of a repealed law.

However, in this case, the leagues took direct, verifiable action to prevent the NJTHA from operating a sportsbook. This led to a district court deeming New Jersey’s sports betting law illegal, which led to a sequence of appeals that ended with PASPA being deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

Dennis Drazin, president of Darby Development, which manages Monmouth Park, indicated that he was pleased with the Supreme Court’s decision to leave the case in the hands of a state court.

The NJTHA and its affiliates seem to be optimistic about the eventual outcome of the case.

Neither the NJTHA or the sporting leagues seem to hold a decisive edge, although the leagues have traditionally had legal success in such cases.

Given the leagues’ enormous financial capital, it wouldn’t be surprising if they offered a multi-million-dollar settlement out of court. If the NJTHA is awarded damages, it could serve as a precedent for other legal sportsbooks seeking damages.

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