Monmouth Park Wants More Than A PASPA Repeal, It Wants Money

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With one win, New Jersey racetrack Monmouth Park is looking for another.

In the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to lift the ban on sports betting, Monmouth Park is wasting no time to get back what it lost in the interim.

Monmouth Park officials told Asbury Park Press they would file a U.S. District Court application for damages accrued fighting the major professional sports league and NCAA on sports betting.

The hundreds of millions in damages would follow the park’s seven-year fight to rule the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) unconstitutional. These damages cover the temporary restraining order won by the leagues in 2014 and continues into the present day.

Monmouth Park stopped on its tracks

The application sits with U.S. District Judge Michael Ship in Trenton, who issued a stop order at the request of the leagues, who in turn posted a $3.4 million bond. This bond collected what was determined to be what Monmouth Park would lose during the time the order was in place.

These actions coincide with Monmouth Park’s preparation to accept NFL game bets in October of 2014. The case went to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals and then, later, the Supreme Court last year.

Dennis Drazin, a consultant to the horsemen’s group that leases Monmouth Park, the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, told APP this is just what the league owes.

“We feel we’re entitled to additional damages. We believe the leagues acted in bad faith trying to stop New Jersey from taking advantage of sports betting while at the same time they were pursing fantasy sports through their equity positions with the FanDuels and Draft Kings of the world, playing games in jurisdictions that permit gambling on sports, all while telling the courts it was an integrity issue.”

Leagues back in the betting game

While leagues vouched that there was an integrity issue, Drazin said they were posturing for profit, moving NHL and NFL teams to Nevada during that time.

Since the ruling, the NFL and NBA both released statements saying that they await a federal framework for sports betting from Congress.

Drazin continued that the losses include revenue Monmouth Park could have used during that time to give horsemen more purse money, to create a concert venue, to provide workers with raises, and to tie the hands of the trades who can’t give those raises.

Memorial Day: A potential greenlight?

Monmouth Park planned to open William Hill Sports Book for betting on May 28, but that plan quickly hit a snag, reported NJ Advance Media.

State Senate President Stephen Sweeney introduced a bill (S2602) this week to set up sports betting regulation and taxation in the garden State. This bill also states that any sports betting operation enacted before this setup would not be able to accept future bets on games.

Sweeney told NJ.com:

“We’re moving quickly with legislation. I’m hopeful we should be ready by early June. Everyone should respect the legislative process rather than jumping out…We fought for this for seven years. I’m anxious to get started just like everyone else.”

New Jersey has spent $9 million in legal fees fighting for legal sports betting at casinos and racetracks.

In the meantime, Sweeney said the bill would pass the Senate by June 7; the assembly would vote again May 24. Apparently since the report, Sweeney has told the racetrack to stand down.

Chris Christie weighs in

Chris Christie is done waiting. The former New Jersey governor told NJ.com that lawmakers should stop wasting time and let Monmouth Park take bets so as to capitalize on the time.

“You can’t just look at the tax revenue,” he said. “You have to also look at the residual of more people coming to New Jersey (to place bets).”

Christie is no stranger to waiting out decisions. He originally signed a law that allowed wagering at casinos and racetracks. The following sued Christie:

  • NFL
  • NHL
  • NBA
  • MLB

While Christie is unconcerned about his legacy, he’s proud of the decision and glad he helped win this fight for sports betting.

Preparations continue

Monmouth Park will have 26 betting windows at the onset, with six inside the William Hill bar (now sportsbook). While some employees will come in from Nevada, William Hill will also hire locally, reported ESPN.

William Hill U.S. CEO Joe Asher told ESPN that the sportsbook is built, the additional equipment will be brought in, and the hiring and training of front-line employees will come with any regulations in place.

“Obviously, having invested six years and $8 million in taxpayer funds, there’s a desire to reap a little bit of the benefit of that effort quickly,” Asher said. “So we’re going to try to make that happen. We’re going to act responsibly about it, as well.”

For the opening, William Hill will offer the same as sportsbooks in Nevada. Bets will need to be in person but mobile wagering will eventually come next.

Others prepping? Other states and NJ’s other players:

  • Freehold Raceway
  • The Meadowlands
  • Atlantic City Casinos
  • Golden Nugget

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Delaware is in on the action with gaming operators potentially operating in full by end of June. Mississippi could also start accepting bets this summer.

Asher told NY Daily News that the New Jersey sports gambling market could be twice that of Nevada’s market, or $10 billion a year. Drazin comparatively put Monmouth Park’s numbers at 5-10,000 people opening day.

Katie Callahan

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Katie Callahan is a freelance journalist, blogger and copywriter who covers everything from poker, business, education and politics to construction, startups and cybersecurity.

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