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Seminole Tribe objects to Gretna track’s intervention in gambling dispute

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The Seminole Tribe of Florida has objected to a request by a North Florida race track to alter a federal judge’s ruling allowing the tribe to keep blackjack at its casinos.

Greenberg Traurig attorney Barry Richard, who represents the Tribe, filed his memorandum in opposition to Gretna Racing’s motion to intervene last week, court records show.

Its attorneys, David Romanik and Marc Dunbar, had 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 also 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 six other counties passed local referendums to approve slots.

At immediate issue, however, is the track’s offering certain card games that Senior U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle based his decision on.

Hinkle had ruled that regulators working under Gov. Rick Scott allowed certain Florida 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 decided the Tribe could keep its blackjack tables till 2030. The state wanted Hinkle to instead order the tribe to remove the games because a blackjack provision in an agreement between the state and tribe expired last year.

“In future proceedings in Florida courts or before Florida state regulators, Gretna remains entirely free to argue that the games it offers do not offend Florida law,” Richard wrote. “… The fact that this Court’s decision might be cited as a non-binding precedent contrary to Gretna’s position in such future cases is not enough to justify granting Gretna the extraordinary relief it now seeks.”

Richard, among other things, also said the request wasn’t timely.

Romanik and Dunbar, he wrote, “were sufficiently aware of the progress of the case so that they knew or should have known of the possibility of an adverse ruling with respect to the issues for which they sought to intervene.”

Background material from The Associated Press, reprinted with permission.

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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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