New Jersey to Press On for Sports Betting

Federal court injunction prevents state from accepting such wagers at Monmouth Park.

Sports betting at Monmouth Park will have to await another day in court following a decision Nov. 21 by the United States District Court granting an injunction stopping the Oceanport racetrack from taking wagers on sporting events.
"Obviously we're disappointed, but not terribly surprised," said Dennis Drazin, adviser to Darby Development, operators of Monmouth. "After analyzing the rationale expressed by the court in granting a temporary restraining order last month, today's action was rather expected.

"We will once again return to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals and ask that they order strict adherence to their 2013 decision, which established the roadmap for New Jersey to begin offering sports wagering.

"For now, it's status quo," Drazin added. "Nevertheless, we remain confident that the third circuit will render a favorable result for Monmouth Park."

In 2012 New Jersey passed the Sports Wagering Act, which permitted the licensing and regulation of sports betting. The state was subsequently sued based on a 1992 statute—the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA). In 2013, the U.S. District Court ruled that New Jersey could not proceed with sports wagering and the state appealed.

The Third Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the district court's ruling; however, that court stated that there was nothing that could stop New Jersey from removing prohibitions against sports wagering, thus establishing the roadmap to begin wagering on sports without violating federal law.

New Jersey subsequently passed legislation that repealed all laws that would make it illegal to take sports wagers at the state's horse tracks and casinos. Monmouth Park was set to proceed with the first such wager Oct. 26; however, the sports leagues were granted a temporary restraining order. Following Friday's issuance of an injunction by the U.S. District Court, the state is now expected to once again appeal to the third circuit.

"The climate is changing on this controversy," Drazin noted, "to wit: NBA Commissioner Adam Silver's recent op-ed in the New York Times in which he stated, 'the laws on sports betting should be changed' and 'sports betting should be brought out of the underground and into the sunlight where it can be appropriately monitored and regulated.'"

"The decision today is a delay, not an end to Monmouth Park offering sports betting to our fans," Drazin said. "We remain steadfast in our fight to bring sports betting to Monmouth Park and are confident that day is still on the very near horizon."

Monmouth Park will postpone plans to develop a 7,500-seat concert venue, which had a groundbreaking ceremony on Oct. 8, 2014, and was scheduled to open mid-2015.

"Without additional revenue streams, it's just not feasible to continue with the concert arena at this time," said Drazin.