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US – Monmouth Park takes action with leagues over $150m in lost revenue

By - 11 July 2018

Monmouth Park, the racetrack who accepted the first legal sports bet in New Jersey, wants to recoup $150m in lost revenue after being ‘wrongfully’ stopped from taking bets back in 2014.

The owners of the racetrack, New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association (NJTHA), are taking legal action against the commissioners of the big four sports leagues (NBA, NFL, NHL, and MLB) and the NCAA, as they defended the ban whilst developing daily fantasy sports businesses.

Monmouth’s attorney, Ronald J. Riccio, said: “The commissioners falsely described to this court in meticulous detail the catastrophic consequences they swore would follow from the spread of sports betting. None of this was close to being true. Behind this court’s back, each commissioner’s league and team owners made huge profits from the spread of sports betting, both on the outcome of their games and their players’ performances in their games.”

The NBA, the NHL, and MLB own a percentage of either DraftKings or FanDuel whilst two NFL team owners, have shares in DraftKings. “Such ownership violates the NFL’s purported Policy prohibiting them from becoming involved with Gambling-Related Businesses,” said Mr. Riccio.

Monmouth Park CEO Dennis Drazin added: “The leagues made a losing bet. It’s time to pay up…When you add up the numbers it comes to $150m to $200m, and it may be more. That number doesn’t come out of air. I’m sure the leagues will have something to say about it. We know the leagues are wrong. It’s pretty clear we are entitled to damages.”

Mr. Drazin added that after the leagues stopped New Jersey from sports betting ‘for reasons that we think are not legitimate, they are not entitled to an integrity fee.’

“This is something that’s been a $400bn illegal business for so many years with offshore companies and bookies and mob-related ties,” Mr. Drazin said. “I’m sure they’ve been concerned about integrity for years. I don’t think they are going to have to spend a dime more to preserve integrity in the legal environment than they’ve done all along in the illegal environment. I think it’s all business at this point in time.”

“The fact that there’s now a legal market helps the leagues, and their revenues are going to increase from more interest in games. At the end of the day, they should be thanking us, not upset with us. If a team is leading by 21 points, fans lose interest. But if fans are doing in-play prop bets, that keeps their attention on the game.”

The law suit added: “Behind this court’s back, each commissioner’s league and team owners made huge profits from the spread of sports betting, both on the outcome of their games and their players’ performances in their games. Since the leagues’ obviously knew that their two-faced, bad-faith conduct significantly harmed Monmouth Park and its workers, compensatory and punitive damages together with counsel fees, costs of suit, and restitution by the leagues should be awarded above the bond amount.”

The leagues have slammed the case as ‘meritless, if not frivolous.’

They stated: “New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association is entitled to no recovery as a matter of law. The contention that Plaintiffs’ arguments concerning the constitutionality of PASPA were advanced in ‘bad faith’ is utterly unsupportable; indeed, those arguments were repeatedly held to be well-founded by this Court and by the Third Circuit. Nor can NJTHA demonstrate ‘bad faith’ by reviving well-worn arguments concerning at least some of the Plaintiffs’ purported involvement in fantasy sports and “gambling” activities that were already the subject of extensive discovery, and that both this Court and the Third Circuit have repeatedly rejected.”

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