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Federal judge won’t change mind on blackjack decision

A federal judge has rejected the state’s request to reconsider his ruling allowing the Seminole Tribe of Florida to keep blackjack at its casinos.

In a two-page order, Senior U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle said the “original opinion correctly analyzes the issues.”

Hinkle had ruled that regulators working under Gov. Rick Scott allowed dog and horse tracks to offer card games that mimicked ones that were supposed to be exclusive to tribe-owned casinos for a five-year period.

The judge ruled that the Tribe could keep its blackjack tables till 2030. The state wanted Hinkle to instead order the tribe to remove the games.

The Tribe had said Hinkle properly found that those games, known as designated player games, “are ‘banked card games’ (like blackjack) based upon reasonable interpretations” of federal Indian gambling law, state law and testimony at trial, the memo says.

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Hinkle has not yet ruled on a separate request by lawyers for a race track in Gretna to intervene in the case.

Attorneys David Romanik and Marc Dunbar have asked Hinkle to remove the part of his ruling they say could make it a “crime” for the track’s cardroom to continue offering certain card games. Romanik and Dunbar are part-owners of Gretna Racing.

The track has a case pending before the state Supreme Court on whether to expand slot machines in the state. Voters in Gadsden County, where the track is located, and five other counties passed local referendums to approve slots.

The Associated Press contributed to this post, reprinted with permission.

Written By

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 jim@floridapolitics.com.

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