NJ accuses sports leagues of hypocrisy over fantasy sports deals

15th January 2015 12:11 pm GMT

Continuing to fight for the right to offer legalised sports betting to the state’s residents, New Jersey has hit back at the four major US sports leagues, arguing that their case is “rooted” in hypocrisy as their sports teams are involved in the growing fantasy sports market.

The court filings were made Wednesday by the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association to the 3rd US Circuit Court of Appeals, with arguments in the case to be heard later this year.

In the filings, they argue that the legal doctrine of “unclean hands” applies in this case, since a number of the leagues’ teams are involved in fantasy sports, competitions which allow players to bet on the performance of individual players.

The “unclean hands” term refers to a defence to a complaint, which states that a party who is asking for a judgment cannot have the help of the court if they have done anything unethical in relation to the subject of the lawsuit.

“The Leagues sponsor, promote, invest in, profit from, and own sports betting business enterprises that engage in the very kinds of sports betting activities the Leagues claim irreparably harm them and, thus, entitle them to an injunction,” says the brief, according to the Associated Press. “Because of their unclean hands, rooted in their hypocrisy, the District Court should not have entertained the Leagues' request for an injunction. Instead, the courthouse doors should have been closed to the Leagues.”

A number US sports teams has signed deals to enter the growing fantasy sports market in recent times, with DraftKings partnering NBA sides the Philadelphia 76ers, the Houston Rockets, the Minnesota Timberwolves, as well agreeing a multi-year deal with the NHL.

FanDuel agreed a deal to become the official one-day fantasy partner of the NBA, with the sports league taking an equity stake in the business. FanDuel already has established partnerships with the Brooklyn Nets, Chicago Bulls, Dallas Mavericks, New York Knicks and Orlando Magic. Hotbox Sports Ventures has also joined forces with NHL side the New Jersey Devils.

After legislation was signed into law by Governor Chris Christie last October, New Jersey’s Monmouth racetrack became the first licensed casino or racetrack to announce plans to launch sports betting to its customers.

It had originally planned to go live with its sports betting offering on October 26th, until the US sports leagues (National Football League, the National Basketball Association, the National Hockey League and Major League Basketball) and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) succeeded in securing a temporary restraining order to block the racetrack from offering and accepting bets from customers. This was made permanent following a decision by US District Judge Michael Shipp in December.

Monmouth has now decided to launch fantasy sports betting to its customers as an interim measure. State lawmakers are expected to lodge an appeal against the recent decision by Judge Shipp.

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