Gambling regulators in Miami, Florida are facing off against the Jacksonville Kennel Club, Inc., fighting over the legality of player-banked card games. The operator of pari-mutuel gaming is blaming the conflict with regulators on the attempt by the Seminole tribe and the Governor of the state, Rick Scott, to sign a $3 billion gambling compact.
A hearing on the matter began this past Tuesday as part of a complaint against the Jacksonville Kennel Club with Administrative Law Judge Suzanne Van Wyk presiding. According to CBS Miami, the pari-mutuel operator’s attorney, John Lockwood, is accusing the regulators of gaming in the state of changing the rules for player-banked card games only a few months after employees were trained on how the games should take place.
Lockwood also stated during the hearing that the Jacksonville Kennel Club had been complying with the rules set for gambling operations faithfully, staying within compliance of the gambling laws of the state. If the games are no longer allowed, the venue could lose as much as $10 million next year. Lockwood stated that the regulators are trying to circumvent the rulemaking process to establish a new policy.
The attorney has stated that he believes the reasoning behind the filing of complaints against more than six facilities, which includes the Jacksonville Kennel Club, has to do with the proposed gaming deal made between the leaders of the Seminole Tribe and the Governor.
The agreement, which still has to be approved by legislators, will provide exclusive rights to banked card game operations to the Seminole tribe for a five year time frame. Games such as blackjack would be included. The same day the deal was proposed last year was the same day that the card games offered by pari-mutuel operators were observed by state gaming regulators.
A few days later, regulators filed complaints against the pari-mutuel operators, while at the same time, legislators decided to not agree with the compact. During the hearing, Division Pari-mutuel Wagering investigator, Charles Taylor, was in attendance. Taylor stated that investigators were given a template of the complaints against the pari-mutuel facilities and soon acknowledged that games were approved to be offered at the facilities by state regulators when he was asked questions by Lockwood.
Taylor then told Lockwood he was told to report that Jacksonville was violating the law. Lockwood then asked why everyone was in court, since he felt the issue was with the gaming compact and that the division knew what was going on the entire time, with investigators sent out on a weekly basis and everyone knew what was going on.
However, state regulators are insisting that the Jacksonville operator was in violation for operating card games that are banked games, gaming options that are illegal in the state except at casinos operated by the Seminole Tribe.
William Hall is a lawyer with the Department of Business and Professional Regulation who provided opening arguments for the state during the hearing. Players are required to place as much as $50,000 up in order to serve as a designated player at the card table, which is indicated by a button, at some pari-mutuels. Some even require five times the amount to pass the button to another player.
Hall stated that the designated player companies are running a business in the card room and the theory of the state is that they have established a bank where the designated player is not really a player and it is just someone sitting by the chips so that dealer can pay out of them.