Gaming Operator Wants Changes in Banked Card Ruling of FL

by Jim Hall

Creek Entertainment GretnaCreek Entertainment Gretna would like to see a ruling by Judge Robert Hinkle of Florida modified in regards to banked card games.

Gaming rules and regulations vary when considering every state in the US. Depending on which state you are reviewing, you will find that gaming regulations are quite different. Some states offer tribal gaming while others are open to both tribal gaming and commercial venues. For the state of Florida, the Seminole Tribe has a monopoly when it comes to certain gaming. Banked card games are exclusively offered by the Seminole Tribe only as part of their gaming compact. Now it seems a pari-mutual operator is trying to see this regulation changed.

Creek Entertainment Gretna’s Efforts

The Creek Entertainment Gretna group is the operator of a poker room as well as a pari-mutuel racing facility near the city of Tallahassee. The attorneys for the company have filed a motion as of last week to try and see the ruling by US District Judge Robert Hinkle modified. The ruling prohibits the pari-mutuels facilities from offering banked card games.

Pari-mutuels are allowed to provide poker gaming as it is considered a peer-to-peer game as players are competing against each other. This game does not fall into a category that is considered a banked game. In Florida, a banked card game is one that includes players being opposed to the house. This would include such games as blackjack, three card poker, pai gow poker and Ultimate Texas Hold’em.

Gaming facilities in Florida have tried to defeat the restrictions on banked card games by having a player stand in as the bank for such casino games as mentioned above. However, further complications exist as the Seminole Tribe has an exclusive contract to offer banked games, leaving everyone else with no options.

However, the compact between the tribe and the state expired in July of 2015 but the tribe said that the state had violated the terms found in the agreement when pari-mutuels were allowed to offer such games. This belief was upheld by the court. A new compact was created with the tribe and the state after Florida Governor Rick Scott negotiated the compact last year. The deal was not approved by the lawmakers of the state, even though $3 billion would have been provided to the state.

Ruling by Hinkle

When Hinkle made his ruling it was a result involving a case where the Seminoles and state were looking to clarify on if the state had been in violation of the compact. The Gretna company says that if they had known the legality of the games were to be decided then they would have submitted testimony before the ruling was made.

Judge Hinkle decided that the state was in violation of the compact and the Seminoles can continue offering banked games and they do not have to pay the state for such games including what was previously paid each year at $250 million. This ruling makes the decision to not accept the $3 billion deal quite silly.

However, despite the ruling, the Seminole have showed a sign of good faith by offering to continue the payments of $250 million each year due to the provision of the contract having expired in 2015. Now it seems the Governor of the state is meeting with representatives of the state to try and create a new deal that can be presented to legislators when 2017 begins. After this most recent ruling, it seems that lawmakers may be more willing to accept a deal.

Pari-mutuels hope to see changes where they can too offer such banked games like the Seminole Tribe.