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Dania casino shut out in gambling permit case

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State gambling regulators this week shot down a request by a South Florida gambling permitholder who wanted sell the permit and allow the next operator to build on a new location in Broward County.

The Department of Business and Professional Regulation on Monday said both sales of permits and any relocation of gambling—both time-consuming processes—have to be OK’d by the department’s Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering, which regulates gambling in the state.

The decision further cements the state’s control over where and how gambling is offered, particularly after a permit is granted.

The department’s “final order” also is a win for the Seminole Tribe of Florida, which asked to intervene in the case.

The Seminoles, who operate the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, had said allowing gambling licenses to be moved within a county “would provide out-of-state companies (with) an incentive to (buy) a license, possibly resulting in increased business competition for the Tribe.”

Dania Entertainment Center, the company that owns The Casino @ Dania Beach, asked for a declaratory judgment on its “converted” summer jai alai permit.

Pari-mutuels, particularly in Broward and Miami-Dade counties, covet jai alai gaming permits because at a minimum they also allow a facility to open a cardroom and offer simulcast betting. The Casino @ Dania Beach also currently offers slots and electronic table games.

The company has a tentative deal with an unnamed buyer that wants to build a casino at a new location. The terms of the sale require the ability to set up shop elsewhere in the county. The casino is owned by a group of Argentine investors and South Florida’s Havenick family, which also runs the casino.

If the permit can’t be relocated, that limits its “marketability” and “will diminish the tax revenue and opportunity for mass local job creation that could be generated,” the original request said.

John Lockwood, the company’s Tallahassee-based attorney, said his client is considering an appeal to the 1st District Court of Appeal.

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Before joining Florida Politics, journalist and attorney James Rosica was state government reporter for The Tampa Tribune. He attended journalism school in Washington, D.C., working at dailies and weekly papers in Philadelphia after graduation. Rosica joined the Tallahassee Democrat in 1997, later moving to the courts beat, where he reported on the 2000 presidential recount. In 2005, Rosica left journalism to attend law school in Philadelphia, afterwards working part time for a public-interest law firm. Returning to writing, he covered three legislative sessions in Tallahassee for The Associated Press, before joining the Tribune’s re-opened Tallahassee bureau in 2013. He can be reached at jim@floridapolitics.com.

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