A poker tournament from August of last year is causing the Hialeah Park casino major issues due to ‘irregularities’ found in the game. Players participating in the event discovered that the prize pool was short and the chip total was too high for the amount of players participating in the event. After players complained, an investigation was started and the state has now found several issues that the casino must now confront. The news broke on major media in a Miami Herald article penned by Nick Sortal.
The Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering investigated the matter and released a report of their findings at the end of December. The division found that the casino had broken eleven violations, with most due to poor accounting measures.
The casino now has until the 18th of January to appeal the case. If Hialeah Park does not appeal, the state will issue the penalties for the casino breaking the rules and regulations in place. The penalty for the issues could be a fine or a suspension of gaming license.
The tournament was set to have a prize pool of at least $200,000 with a buy-in of $250. This was the largest event to take place in the history of the venue and players could take part in the afternoon or evening hours for a five day time frame from the 25th to the 29th of August. Those who made it through would return on the 30th to play the final round of the event.
Apparently, the card-room managers of the casino were allowing extra players to compete, with these players not going to the cashier-window to register for the event. The additional players were an increase in competition without adding more money to the prize pool.
As poker tournaments will regularly update totals, players began to understand that the Hialeah Park totals were not adding up. One player, Allen Powers, found that with 1,061 players competing, the prize pool should have been more than the reported $215,000. The card room insisted they had only 961 after saying there was over 1,000. Even if the number was lower, the prize money should have still been higher. There were also more chips in play, indicating that far more than 961 players were taking part.
The poker managers of the venue were also accused of placing players in specific seats instead of players being seated randomly. Video footage from the surveillance cameras of the venue do not cover the poker room properly, especially where cash handling is concerned. The money for the poker event was kept in the manager’s office, Nelson Costa, instead of in a vault or cashier cage. The casino has not responded to the claims, though several of the staff members who were involved have left the venue to pursue other career opportunities.