State files gambling complaints against racetracks across Florida

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State gambling regulators this week filed complaints against seven racetracks in Florida, saying they’re operating illegal card games, according to documents obtained through a public records request.

The pari-mutuels targeted by the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, which regulates gambling, include:

  • Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach,
  • Palm Beach Kennel Club in West Palm Beach,
  • Magic City Casino in Miami,
  • Derby Lane in St. Petersburg,
  • Isle Casino and Pompano Park in Pompano Beach,
  • Tampa Bay Downs in Tampa, and
  • BestBet in Jacksonville. 

The department did not comment beyond providing copies of the complaints on Tuesday afternoon.

The state is declaring war on what’s known as “designated-player games” offered in the pari-mutuels’ card rooms. Such games are usually a version of poker in which players take on each other, rather than playing against the house.

The pari-mutuels have said such games are allowed because they’re not like blackjack, which is played against the house and is limited to the Seminole Tribe of Florida’s casinos.

But the tribe has said that designated-player card games, which the state previously allowed, violate the tribe’s exclusive rights to offer blackjack to its casino customers.

Blackjack is offered at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Tampa, a short drive from Derby Lane and Tampa Bay Downs.

In return, regulators in the Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering have said any form of gambling is illegal unless it’s specifically authorized, and the card games in question aren’t directly allowed under state gambling law.

The administrative complaints, which went out Tuesday, seek penalties of unspecified fines and possible suspensions or revocations of the pari-mutuels’ operating permits.

Representatives of the pari-mutuels could not be reached after hours or did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Jim Rosica

Jim Rosica is the Tallahassee-based Senior Editor for Florida Politics. He previously was the Tampa Tribune’s statehouse reporter. Before that, he covered three legislative sessions in Florida for The Associated Press. Jim graduated from law school in 2009 after spending nearly a decade covering courts for the Tallahassee Democrat, including reporting on the 2000 presidential recount. He can be reached at [email protected]


7 comments

  • SG

    January 27, 2016 at 10:21 am

    Fuck the Indians…..And the crime syndicate know as the Florida legislature…

  • M

    January 27, 2016 at 11:01 pm

    Mr. Rosica please investgate and write an article on how the Indians have a monopoly in the state of Florida. Please write how I have to drive 4 hours to play a slot machine that isn’t owned by the Indians. Please write how the Indians charge what ever they want due to no other facility around Tampa to play slots, certain games etc.. Please investigate the story of a well known golf player winning big on a slot machine and aprox 10 people were fired cause management didn’t tighten the slot machine.
    I WOULD LIKE CHOICES.
    IN TAMPA YOU DON’T HAVE CHOICES…Either play slots with Indians or drive 4 hours..

    It’s wrong that the Indians have a monopoly in State of Florida. What ever happened to free enterprise.

    I’m definitely for all pari mutual facilities having table games and slots.

  • dolores

    January 28, 2016 at 4:36 am

    why only the seminoles? how is that fair ?this state always mess with their citiziens

  • danksrq

    January 28, 2016 at 4:39 am

    How did Sarasota Kennel Club escape enforcement? They offer 3 card poker.

  • Haywood Jasneezme

    January 28, 2016 at 10:46 am

    Wow. I wonder if the pari-mutuels will counter sue the state. They gave permission, then charge them and press release it. Sounds like they are trying to grind an axe of some sort.

  • Susan Immerman

    March 5, 2016 at 5:13 pm

    Allowing only Indian casinos in FL., iny opinion is breaking the law against allowing monopolies!

  • Miss Garten

    April 3, 2016 at 7:54 pm

    They are allowing my underage daughter to gamble at the tables where they serving alcohol at the Palm Beach Kennel Club

Comments are closed.


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