As well as being the front-runner in the race to offer the first legal sports wager outside of Nevada, New Jersey is now making noises about the possibility of suing those major sports leagues that fought to maintain PASPA’s place on the statute books. State Senate president Stephen Sweeney has confirmed that he is exploring a lawsuit against the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL and NCAA for damages that could potentially run into hundreds of millions of dollars.
According to Sweeney, the garden state took a $9bn hit in taxpayer money while fighting the case to have PASPA overturned, adding that casinos and racetracks there lost out on circa $700m in revenue that would have been generated by sports betting.
Adding fuel to the fire was a similar statement from Dennis Drazin, operator of New Jersey’s Monmouth Park racetrack who has reportedly said that the Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association is preparing a federal lawsuit seeking more than $100m in damages from the leagues.
But according to one senior legal figure in the US, New Jersey has a difficult case to prove. Sean McGuinness, a partner in Butler Snow‘s Gaming Industry Team, told SBC Americas: “As far as New Jersey suing the leagues for damages, I think that specific monetary damages would be very difficult to prove or calculate. In addition, suing the leagues for taking a legal position in support of, what was at the time, a legal federal statute also is problematic in my view.”
McGuinness also believes that the case would in all probability be deemed too toxic for the court to take on board. “Even if New Jersey was able to make such a claim and prevail, that then could open the floodgates for other states to file similar actions. This would be bad public policy and I wouldn’t think a court would rule in such a manner. New Jersey ought to focus their efforts on getting their sports betting offerings to the public as soon as possible and just move forward with that.”