NJ Horsemen, Sports Leagues Reach Agreement in PASPA Bond Case


Posted on: January 12, 2021, 09:41h. 

Last updated on: January 12, 2021, 09:41h.

The historic case that opened the door to sports betting across the United States apparently has come to an end.

New Jersey sports betting
Bettors place wagers in 2018 at the William Hill sportsbook at Monmouth Park in New Jersey. The sportsbook was at the center of the lawsuit between the US sports leagues and the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association. Both sides have reached an agreement to settle the financial aspects of that landmark case. (Image: Monmouth Park/Twitter)

On Monday, US District Judge Freda L. Wolfson signed off on an agreement between the country’s major professional and collegiate sports leagues and the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association. The US Supreme Court nearly three years ago answered the question about the legality of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act. However, since then a question remained unanswered about the damages the horsemen sought after winning the case.

The sports leagues filed suit in 2014 seeking to stop the horsemen from running a sportsbook at Monmouth Park. After a judge in New Jersey federal district court initially ruled in the plaintiffs’ favor, they had to put up a $3.4 million bond after receiving a restraining order against the NJTHA. The bond covered the projected income the horsemen stood to gain from a legal sportsbook

When the Supreme Court ruled in the horsemen’s favor they claimed the leagues’ case cost the group $150 million. That was based, they said, on the three-and-a-half years they were denied the ability to benefit from sports betting. The NBA, NFL, NHL, MLB, and NCAA disagreed.

That argument made its way through the federal court system as well until the Supreme Court chose not to entertain arguments in the case after the leagues petitioned the justices.

Last month, Wolfson ruled against the horsemen’s larger claim but kept the door open for the bond.

A hearing on the matter had been set for Wednesday

About the Agreement

Under the terms of the agreement, which lawyers presented to Wolfson on Friday, all outstanding motions made by the horsemen regarding the full bond plus interest as well as any excess damages are to be dismissed without prejudice. In legal terms, that means the NJTHA theoretically could refile the suit.

However, the order also indicates that both sides within 30 days will file a proposed order to dismiss the case with prejudice and release the bond. Or, the two camps will submit a joint letter to the court explaining why they can’t.

Both sides have agreed to cover their own legal costs and fees.

Historic Sports Betting Case

The landmark case has had a profound impact on New Jersey and the country.

Sports betting, once the near-exclusive domain of Nevada, is now available in 19 states and the District of Columbia. Six more states have legalized it and await regulatory approvals.

Five states have filed legislation to allow sports betting. That does not include New York, which is considering adding mobile wagering to help fill a massive budget deficit.

And of course, sports betting has been a tremendous boost for New Jersey. In the two-and-a-half years since the first wager was made, the Garden State has become the top sports betting state in the country.

In November, New Jersey reported a record-breaking $931.6 billion sports betting handle. When the state’s Division of Gaming Enforcement releases the December totals on Wednesday, many analysts expect the state will come close to, if not exceed, a $1 billion handle.