In 2014, the sports leagues successfully blocked New Jersey from offering wagering on sports. Now, New Jersey will be seeking reimbursement for the money it otherwise would have made.
Via Stephen Edelson of the Asbury Park Press, officials at Monmouth Park will file an application in federal court “seeking to recoup hundreds of millions of dollars” arising from the initially successful — but ultimately fruitless — effort to keep sports betting from happening.
At first blush, it seems like a stretch. The sports leagues didn’t improperly block New Jersey from engaging in sports wagering; instead, the sports leagues relied on a federal law that had been on the books for 22 years. And multiple federal courts agreed.
It was only when the United States Supreme Court — on a 6-3 vote — overturned the federal law that the sports leagues’ position was proven to be wrong. Thus, the sports leagues would seem to be no more legally responsible for the lost gambling earnings than the members of Congress who passed the bill, the President who signed it into law, or the various courts that had consistently upheld its legality and constitutionality.
This could simply be an effort by New Jersey to keep the sports leagues from now extending an open palm that hopes to be filled with an “integrity fee.” Instead of working with New Jersey in 2014 to allow everyone to make money, the sports leagues tried to keep anyone and everyone from generating revenue through gambling. It would be a bad look for the sports leagues to try to get a cut from New Jersey now; an effort to seek hundreds of millions in damages from the sports leagues could be the best way to get them to back off as New Jersey finalizes and launches its sports betting program.