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Seminole Tribe objects to any about-face on blackjack ruling

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The Seminole Tribe of Florida is opposing the state’s asking a federal judge to reconsider his decision to let the Tribe keep blackjack at its casinos.

The tribe filed a legal memo last week in opposition to the state’s motion.

Senior U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle ruled that regulators working under Gov. Rick Scott allowed 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.

Hinkle ruled that the tribe could keep its blackjack tables till 2030. The state wants Hinkle to instead order the tribe to remove the games.

The Tribe says Hinkle properly found that those games, known as designated player games, “are ‘banked card games’ (like blackjack) based upon reasonable interpretations” of federal Indian gambling law, state law and testimony at trial, the memo says.

“The state ignores virtually all of that evidence, disregards the court’s reasoning, and presents its argument as though there had been no comprehensive briefing on the relevant issues and no trial,” says the memo by Greenberg Traurig attorney Barry Richard, who represents the Tribe.

Also, lawyers for a race track in Gretna filed paperwork to intervene in the case.

Attorneys David Romanik and Marc Dunbar have 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 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 five other counties passed local referendums to approve slots.

The court docket shows Hinkle has not yet decided any of the motions.

The Associated Press contributed to this post, 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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