Federal Judge Refuses to Reconsider Ruling in FL Gambling Case

by Jim Hall

Federal Judge Robert HinkleFederal Judge Robert Hinkle refuses to reconsider a ruling in which the state was found in violation of a gambling agreement with the Seminole Tribe.

Governor Rick Scott of Florida requested that United States District Judge Robert Hinkle reconsider a ruling in which the state was said to be in violation of a gambling compact with the Seminole Tribe of Florida. Judge Hinkle refused the request and produced a two page order on Tuesday showing his feelings on the matter.

The Judge Ruling Stands

The two page order was issued earlier their week, just days after attorneys representing the governor as well as the Department of Business and Professional Regulation submitted a 33 page document to request changes to the ruling from November 9th in which Hinkle was in favor of the tribe.

In the two page order, Hinkle stated that the case had been tried in court and a written opinion set out the findings of the court of fact as well as the conclusions of law. The defendant moved to amend the judgement or alter the ruling. For the most part, Hinkle says the motion reargues the merits and the original opinion has analyzed the issues correctly. The order denies the motion to alter or amend the decision.

Background

The ruling in November along with the order from this week are part of a legal fight involving the game of blackjack and other types of casino games that casinos operated by the Seminole tribe are offered. Games include designated player games at pari-mutuel facilities as well as horse racing facilities that are regulated by the state.

Hinkle sided with the tribe back in November by ruling that designated-player games at pari-mutuels are in violation of an agreement from 2010 that provided the tribe with exclusive rights to operate banked card games. This included the game of blackjack. In exchange, the state would be paid $1 billion.

The tribe had a five year agreement with the state involving banked card games which is part of a larger twenty year deal. This deal expired in 2015 which caused the tribe to file a lawsuit. The state then filed a separate claim to ask the judge to order the tribe to shut down the game of blackjack as well as other banked games that the Seminole tribe continued to offer.

Judge Hinkle was in agreement with the tribe, stating that the state-authorized designated games, also called player-banked games, were an exception to the give year agreement. The tribe are to be allowed to offer the banked games currently and will be able to for the remainder of the 20 year term contract, based on the ruling by Hinkle.

As the legal proceedings have taken place in the state, the administration for Scott along with the Seminole Tribe, have continued to try and revise a new compact. Efforts in the past have been shot down by legislators, though approved by the governor. On Tuesday, the Senate President Joe Negron stated that getting a compact ratified is a priority for him and this would require approval from legislators. The tribe has yet to provide any details of negotiations in regards to a new compact.

This issue has been ongoing for some time now. The tribe wants to continue to have the monopoly on the banked card games while other gambling facilities would like to offer some other type of gambling options on top of what is already offered. It seems that 2016 will end with the fight still ongoing and possibly a solution will be created once 2017 rolls around.