Federal Judge Temporarily Sides with Sports Leagues in New Legal Battle over NJ Sports Betting

Monmouth Park Racetrack’s plans of launching its sports betting last October 26 (Sunday) was aborted, as U.S. District Judge Michael Shipp handed down a ruling last Friday, which sided with the arguments presented by the sports leagues in their legal complaint versus New Jersey Gov. Chris Christies and the Oceanport sports facility. The federal judge issued a temporary restraining order to support the assertion of the National Football League (NFL), Major League Baseball (NLB), National Basketball Association (NBA), National Hockey League (NHL) and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) that they are likely to be “irreparably harmed” if sports betting is allowed in the state.

Judge Shipp explained that allowing more gambling, even if legal, increases total gambling, which in turn creates more incentives for fixing league matches. However, he added that the restraining order is temporary in nature, since the court will ensure that arguments over the current sports betting case will be properly heard in the legal arena. This denotes that the legal battle is not yet over, as hearings will continue to take place at the Third District Court and possibly at the Third Circuit Court of Appeals.

The Monmouth Park racetrack had previously announced the Oct. 26 launch of its sports betting offers after NJ state legislators and Gov. Christie passed and enacted a bill that lifted the state’s ban on sports betting. Monmouth Park officials said that the racetrack was well prepared to accept bets coming from around 10,000 sports bettors on the Sunday-scheduled NFL games, such as the match between the NY Jets vs. Buffalo Bills and the Philadelphia Eagles vs. Arizona Cardinals. Moreover, the racetrack had an opening schedule at 7:00 AM last Sunday, as customers had also expressed their intent to place wagers on the Detroit Lions vs. Atlanta Falcons match scheduled at 9:30 PM at the Wembley Stadium in London.

However, the Monmouth Park racetrack was named along with the NJ governor in the complaint filed and completed by the sports leagues last Thursday. The leagues maintained that the Garden State’s present sports betting initiative is still “a clear and flagrant violation of the PASPA federal law.” Although the state government has taken a different approach, the lifting of the sports betting ban is still an attempt to accomplish what it had failed to do so during the past three years, which is that of authorizing NJ-licensed casinos and racetracks to operate, promote, and sponsor wagering activities on sports matches among amateur and professional sports leagues.

The legal representative of Monmouth Park forebodes that prohibiting the state to permit sports betting operations within its jurisdiction despite the lifting of the ban, would pose as a “death Knell” for Monmouth Park racetrack, as such an outcome cuts off a much needed source of income.

In a statement read by Michael Drewniak, a spokesperson for the NJ governor, the message conveyed that the ruling announced last Friday is only temporary because the court intends to consider fully the core arguments for and against sports betting in New Jersey.


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