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Ante up: State to workshop new rules for card games

Gambling regulators plan to “update and clarify existing language” in the state’s rules on card games, according to an administrative notice posted Monday.

A “notice of development of rulemaking” was published in the Florida Administrative Register

An all-day workshop will be held Jan. 4, at the Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering’s North Broward Regional Service Center in Fort Lauderdale. The division, under the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, regulates gambling in Florida.

“The preliminary text of the proposed rule development is not available,” the notice said.

The Division previously published proposed rules on “designated player” games offered at certain pari-mutuel facilities. The games have been the subject of past and ongoing lawsuits.

The contemplated changes say that the dealer position in such games must “rotate around the card table in a clockwise fashion on a hand-by-hand basis to provide each player desiring to be the designated player an equal opportunity to participate.”

Last month, a DBPR spokeswoman said updating the rules would “allow the Division to move beyond pending litigation.”

The games, similar to poker, were at the core of a recent lawsuit by the Seminole Tribe of Florida against the state.

The Tribe argued some designated player games played too much like banked card games, like blackjack, which the state had guaranteed that the Tribe could offer exclusively in Florida.

A federal judge agreed, and the Tribe and state officials later settled the case while it was appealed.

In banked card games, players bet against the “house,” or the casino, and not each other. In traditional poker, people play against each other for a pot of money. Designated player games are a hybrid, where the bank is supposed to revolve among the players.

Regulators had said some card rooms were flouting state law by allowing third-party companies to buy their way into designated player games, using a worker to act as a virtual bank that didn’t rotate.

As one administrative law judge later put it, that set-up amounts to a sham, in which “the designated player is a player in name only. The existing operation of the games does no more than establish a bank against which participants play.”

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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