Judge denies Florida’s request to reconsider Seminole gambling ruling

Judge denies Florida's request to reconsider Seminole gambling ruling

Florida’s Seminole Tribe scored another victory in its legal battle against the state this week, when a judge upheld his ruling that Florida violated its gambling agreement with the tribe.

A quick recap: In November, Federal Judge Robert Hinkle ruled that the state had violated the terms of its 20-year gambling compact with the tribe by allowing pari-mutuel gaming operators to offer so-called ‘designated-player’ card games. These games feature one player at each table nominally acting as the house, although in practice the role is generally farmed out to third-party companies due to the financial requirements.

Gov. Rick Scott‘s administration has appealed to Hinkle to reconsider his ruling. Hinkle did respond, but with a two-page order that denied the state government’s request.

“The original opinion correctly analyses the issues,” Hinkle wrote, according to state media outlets.

The two rulings allow the Seminole Tribe to offer blackjack through 2030 at its six casinos in the state. It could also pave the way for state lawmakers to allow slot machines in counties—Palm Beach, Brevard, Duval, Gadsden, Hamilton, Lee, St. Lucie and Washington—where voters approved them. In his November ruling, Hinkle called the designated-player games an “egregious example of the cardrooms’ attempt to evade the prohibition on banked card games.”

Hinkle’s verdict will likely spur stalled negotiations on a replacement compact, but given the Seminoles’ improved legal footing, whatever new deal emerges likely won’t match the $3.1 billion guarantee the state could have reaped over the first seven years of the compact the legislature rejected this spring.

Gary Bitner, spokesman for the Seminole Tribe, noted that the tribe is willing to work on an agreement as long as its behind closed doors.

“The Seminole Tribe is open to discussions and negotiations as part of its continuing desire to finalize a new gaming compact with the State of Florida,” Bitner told the Sun Sentinel. “But the tribe prefers not to negotiate in the media.”

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December 26, 2016: posted in News And Reviews No Comments

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