Ultimate Texas Hold ‘em and Three-Card Poker Continue Even Though Florida Prohibited Them | New Times Broward-Palm Beach

Politics

South Florida's Racetrack Card Rooms Enjoy Court Victory

Remember when the courts prohibited funky games such as Ultimate Texas Hold ‘em and three-card poker at racetrack casinos in 2015? Well, it looks like they’re going to be here for a while longer.

This past August 27, administrative law judge E. Gary Early ruled the state of Florida was wrong to simply eliminate a rule it had approved in 2012.

The state was contacted about a problem with the games last December, just as a compact was being worked out between Gov. Rick Scott and the Seminole, who allow these games in their casinos' blackjack pits. (That agreement didn’t pass the legislature), 

Early ruled the state can’t just zap a law it doesn’t like, even though racetrack lawyers pointed out they had brought in special tables, reconfigured floor space, and hired staff. “The evidence is conclusive that, by its repeal of [the rule, the state] simply changed its mind....Respondent cannot, with little more than a wave and well-wishes, expect regulated businesses to expose themselves to liability through their actions,” Early wrote.

Now it looks like there will be another suit of some kind.“We are still reviewing the decision and will take the appropriate steps moving forward in the process,” Department of Business and Professional Regulation Communications director Stephen Lawson said in a statement.

Meanwhile, remember that the Seminole tribe has filed suit against the state, arguing that legislators have not negotiated in good faith to extend a five-year $1 billion agreement for exclusive rights to table games. Their agreement with the state expired July 31, 2015. Those games have continued despite the lawsuit, and the Seminoles are paying the state in the interim.

The biggest legal game-changer could bring slots to at least six Florida counties – and end the monopoly the Seminoles have outside of South Florida. We’re due for a ruling on that case sometime soon.
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Nick Sortal is South Florida’s expert journalist when it comes to the gambling scene. He covered the openings, expansions, poker tournaments, entertainment, and human-interest facets of the industry for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel from 2007 until taking a buyout in November 2015, capping a 30-year career that included state and national awards and features about naked yoga. He now writes a weekly column for the Miami Herald and also reports about gambling on his site, SouthFloridaGambling.com. The Southern Illinois native worked for papers in St. Louis and Indianapolis before joining the Sun Sentinel in 1985. He likes triathlons, country music, basketball, and bragging about his family.
Contact: Nick Sortal