New deal: Florida wants judge to change blackjack ruling

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

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

Attorneys for the state late Wednesday filed a post-trial motion that questioned the findings that led U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle to side with the tribe.

The move by the state comes just two days before the deadline to appeal Hinkle’s November ruling.

The judge ruled that regulators working under Gov. Rick Scott allowed dog and horse tracks to put in 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 for another 14 years.

Among other things, the state says Hinkle’s findings on what are known as “designated player games” are “contrary to state and federal law,” and electronic table games, also offered by pari-mutuels, weren’t made off limits by the original exclusivity deal.

The state now wants Hinkle to order the tribe to remove the blackjack tables.

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

Attorneys David Romanik and Marc Dunbar are asking 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.

Hinkle’s “observation or suggestion that player banking is illegal can be deleted from the opinion without impairing” it, their filing says.

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. staff contributed to this post.