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Federal judge won’t change mind on blackjack decision

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

A federal judge has rejected the state’s request to reconsider his ruling allowing the Seminole Tribe of Florida to keep blackjack at its casinos.

In a two-page order, Senior U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle said the “original opinion correctly analyzes the issues.”

Hinkle had 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.

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

The Tribe had said 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.

Hinkle has not yet ruled on a separate request by lawyers for a race track in Gretna 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 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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