Category Archives: Court Case/Decision

UPDATE: Florida Supreme Court Allows Deceptively Dangerous Greyhound Amendment to go on ballot

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the greyhound amendment that seemingly ends all the dangers associated with greyhound racing. Unfortunately, the Florida amendment does no such thing and many argued the language in the amendment was deceptively dangerous and it would actually create mini-casinos all around the state, something known as decoupling. Right now, the dog racing is needed to allow the slot machines and other gambling at these facilities. For quite some time now, those machines have been the true bread and butter and the only thing really keeping the industry afloat. The amendment being proposed doesn’t end all of that harmful gambling, instead it decouples the dog racing meaning that so long as they still show dog racing from another venue on screen and take bets, they can continue to operate the mini-casinos. Most people who would support ending dog racing believe in ending the gambling all together, and it was argued in court that the amendment the Florida voters would vote on doesn’t make that clear. It was also pointed out that an issue like this belongs in the legislature and not as a constitutional amendment. The lower court called the amendment “out right trickeration,” but the Florida Supreme court ruled the language was sufficient to appear on the ballot, so now Florida voters must untangle this deception on their own. Florida Politics breaks down the ruling:

The Florida Supreme Court on Friday ordered a proposed *constitutional
amendment that would ban betting on live greyhound racing back on the ballot, reversing a lower-court judge. 

The court, in a 6-1 decision, overturned a previous order by Circuit Judge Karen Gievers, who ruled that Amendment 13’s ballot title and summary would mislead voters, calling it “outright ‘trickeration.’  ” Justice Peggy A. Quince dissented.

Jack Cory, spokesman and lobbyist for the *Florida Greyhound Association, which filed the legal challenge, said his group was “disappointed in the decision today… In a statement, Cory said the proposed constitutional change was made from “false and misleading information,” mentioning what he called the creation of “freestanding casinos” — a point the majority refuted, however. “This is the reason that you should not put issues like this into the Florida Constitution.”

[Justice] Quince said in a short dissent that “there is no reasonable way for a voter to know whether, by voting yes for this amendment, they are also voting to either suspend or expand” other gambling.

 

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UPDATE: MGM makes “Outrageous” Offer to Shooting Victims it’s Suing – Gets called out for PR Spin Attempt

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the MGM lawsuit that shocked so many. MGM’s hotel and casino, Mandalay Bay, was involved in worst mass shooting in modern American history. In what was seen as an unprecedented move, MGM decided to preemptively sue the victims families in an effort to stop any potential liability lawsuits they had and might occur. There are nearly 2,000 people that MGM is suing and they have reached out to try an offer a sort of an extremely strange deal that has been called out as a shameless PR stunt. The Associated Press explains: 

MGM Resorts International drew criticism Tuesday for saying hundreds of survivors of the Las Vegas mass shooting, who are being sued by the casino operator, could opt to have the money that will be used to serve them a lawsuit instead donated to a charity.

Serving defendants is a crucial step in a civil lawsuit. It informs a defendant that a lawsuit has been filed against him or her, provides the individual a copy of the complaint and starts running a 21-day deadline for the person to respond to the lawsuit. Eglet said the firms representing most of the victims have not been authorized to accept the legal notices. That would force MGM to find and serve each of the 1,977 people it sued.

The company […has] been working to notify them as it faces a standard 90-day deadline. MGM told the victims’ attorneys it would rather make the donations to charities than spend the money to pay people to serve the legal notices.

“The money spent on personal service of process — up to $250 per person — could be better directed to do some affirmative good,” MGM’s attorneys wrote in the letter shared with The Associated Press. MGM offered to make a $500 charitable donation for each person who waives being served or authorizes an attorney to accept service on their behalf, but a victims’ lawyer quickly called it all “nonsense.” Attorney Robert Eglet, part of a group representing most of the victims, said the company is just trying to “spin” its attempt to save money on serving legal notices. “It will cost the MGM significantly more than $250 to serve them,” Eglet said. “This is just more outrageous conduct by them.”

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UPDATE: Court upholds that Florida’s Pre-reveal games are slot machines and illegal gambling

Casino Watch Focus has reported on a new type of slot machine that initial confused many as to whether it was a slot machine or a harmless entertainment machine. First and foremost, these devices look and function 100% like a slot machine. So why the confusion? These machines actually reveal the results of the next spin before you pay. This lead some, including the manufactures and those who operated the machines, that its not a game of chance, because you know the result, so it cant be gambling. These machines were quickly shut down, but a judge originally ruled that because you know the result, it’s not chance, so they were allowed.

The judge reconsidered the decision after further explanation that you are not paying to see the next spin, but rather you are paying to see the result of the next spin. Its absolutely no different than a slot machine, except the first time you put money in, you know the result. Past that, its always putting money in, spinning, letting chance take over, and seeing if you win. No one would likely leave a spin showing where the next pull would be a winner. So any new player would in all reality be starting the slot machine knowing they are paying to see what the next outcome will be.   That decision was appealed, and the new Florida court has unsurprisingly upheld the lower courts ruling, preventing what would be an unimaginable expansion of gambling at every corner should such machines not be considered slot machines that require regulation. The Orlando Weekly reports:

Siding with state regulators, an appeals court Thursday ruled that controversial electronic games played in bars and other establishments are illegal slot machines. A three-judge panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal upheld a circuit judge’s decision that what are known as “pre-reveal” games violate laws preventing slot machines in most of Florida. The panel’s 10-page ruling found, in part, that the games meet the definition of slot machines because they include an element of chance.

The ruling Thursday, quoting a section of state law, said the determination of whether the games are illegal slot machines “turns on whether the user may receive something of value ‘by reason of any element of chance or any other outcome unpredictable by the user.’ The element of chance or unpredictability must be inherent in the machine itself.”

“We hold that the trial court was correct in determining that Version 67 is a slot machine because the element of chance is inherent in it given that it has a preset win/loss ratio … and that the game outcomes are determined by the machine by chance, via an RNG (random number generator), and there is nothing the user can do to affect the outcomes,” said the ruling, written by appeals-court Judge Joseph Lewis and joined by judges James Wolf and Stephanie Ray. “Furthermore, Version 67 is a slot machine for the additional and independent reason that also inherent in it is an outcome unpredictable by the user. While it is true that the user is advised of the outcome of the game at hand ahead of time through the preview feature, the user cannot predict that outcome until it is randomly generated and then displayed by the machine. Nor can the user predict the outcome of Game 2 while playing Game 1.”

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Update: Florida Supreme Court to Decide if Deceptive Greyhound Amendment will make it on the Ballot

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the greyhound amendment that was initially headed to the November ballot in Florida. The amendment’s language is very confusing and doesn’t explain well enough what it really does. The issue isn’t as simple as banning greyhound racing. It’s a more complex issue known as decoupling, and it will effectively leave stand alone mini-casinos in the wake. Its been explained why that would be a far worse situation for Florida families. The Amendment was immediately challenged and the bench judge said a full trial wouldn’t be need, and it was a legal issue that could be ruled on quickly. As outlined by Florida PoliticsCircuit Judge Karen Gievers ruled against the Amendment:

The association challenged the amendment, saying its ballot title and summary would mislead voters. Circuit Judge *Karen* *Gievers* already has agreed in a harshly-worded ruling, striking the measure earlier this month and calling it “outright ‘trickeration.’ ”

She said Amendment 13’s title and summary were “clearly and conclusively defective,” a legal standard developed by the Supreme Court to justify keeping proposed amendments off the ballot.

Despite this ruling, Attorney General Pam Bondi decided to appeal the case to the Florida Supreme Court. The Court heard arguments yesterday, but didn’t give much of an indication how they are leaning on the issue. Retired Florida Supreme Court Justice, Major B. Harding, argued against it to the Court and explained the many issues wrong with the amendment, including the argument made during at the appellate level that outlined how this issue belongs in the legislature, not as a constitutional amendment which is reserved for fundamental values. Florida Politics continues:  

The Florida Supreme Court will now consider whether general election voters will get to see a constitutional amendment ending live greyhound racing. Lawyers for the state and the Florida Greyhound Association gave argument Wednesday before the state’s seven justices. As usual, the court offered no clue when it might rule.

Major B. Harding, a retired Supreme Court justice who represents the Greyhound Association, had previously argued the title and summary don’t disclose that “humane treatment of animals would become a fundamental value of the people of Florida.”

When Justice Peggy Quince suggested some voters may be interested in getting rid of dog racing but not in saying animal welfare is a “fundamental value,” [Deputy Solicitor General Jordan] Pratt said a title and summary don’t have to allude to the policy behind an amendment.

Harding later told the justices a vote for Amendment 13 would “constitutionally disconnect” dog racing from other gaming; slot machines in South Florida are provided for in another amendment.

He said the language also doesn’t make clear to voters that the amendment’s passage would create “freestanding casinos” because other gambling activities would not be affected. “Why would you include such a significant statement … and not disclose it?” Harding said. “It’s misleading and it’s inappropriate.”

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Florida Appeals Court to Rule on New “Pre-reveal” Slot Machines

Casino Watch Focus has reported on a new form of slot machine termed pre-reveal machines. These machines have the ability to drastically expand gambling in the state should the be viewed as anything other than a slot machine. Slot machines would be heavily regulated as a game of chance and face numerous restrictions. They work slightly different that a typical slot machine in that the reveal what the next spin will be. The creators and those that believe they shouldn’t be regulated as slot machines claim that because you see what the next spin will be, it can’t be gambling. The judge originally agreed with the creators and said they were legal machines. The judge was urged to reexamine how the machines actually work and it was explained to him that event though the next pull was revealed, it was the spin after that would be revealed that gamblers were chasing. It’s exactly like a slot machine except the gambler is one play behind. They basically pay for the spin they know is coming, but its really the next spin that will be revealed that they gamble on being a winner. Now the case has reached the Appellate level and its outcome could have a huge impact if these machines are deemed legal. An online source explains: 

In a legal dispute that’s dragged on for more than three years and has eluded a legislative remedy, an appellate court is grappling with whether popular tabletop games are illegal slot machines or more-benign entertainment options for customers of bars and restaurants.

The 1st District Court of Appeal heard arguments Tuesday in the case centered on games produced by Blue Sky Games and leased by Jacksonville-based Gator Coin II Inc., after a Tallahassee judge last year sided with gambling regulators who maintain that the games violate a Florida law banning slot machines in most parts of the state.

Proponents of the devices, known as “pre-reveal games,” contend that the machines are legal because the computer games include a “preview” feature that advises players of the outcome of the games.

But critics, including the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, say that doesn’t matter because the “random number generator” used to create the games equates to the definition of slot machines, which are games of “chance,” under state law.

There’s nothing players can do to affect the outcome of the game, which fits the definition of slots, department attorney Daniel McGinn told a three-judge panel Tuesday.

The only other argument that they are advancing is that because the first game is known, and only the games after are not known, then a ruling requires looking at all the games played and not simply a single game. The state believes its irrelevant if one game is played or many games are played. The online source continues:

A key issue in the case involves whether the slot-machine law applies to playing a single game or a series of games. While the outcome of the first game is revealed in advance, a player at the outset does not know the results of subsequent games.

Judge James Wolf repeatedly asked lawyers on both sides whether the court should consider whether a single game or a series of games violates the law.

“I’m a simple kind of guy. It comes down to whether we can consider the entire course of the play or one particular game. Their argument is one particular game is not a game of chance because you know the outcome. … What in the statute allows us to consider the entire course of play?” he asked, pointing out that the state law defines slot machines, in part, as a device whose outcome is “unpredictable by the user.”

The answer rests in the way the machines generate the games, which the state believes violates the law, said McGinn, whose department regulates gambling. “From our perspective, it doesn’t matter whether it’s one game. It doesn’t matter whether it’s multiple games,” he said.

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MGM does the Unthinkable and Sues the Victims of the Las Vegas Mass Shooting

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the worst mass shooting in modern American history as it took place in Las Vegas on the Mandalay Bay casino-resort, and an MGM property. Understanding its impact to gambling industry was noteworthy, so it was discussed, but not at all on the same level of impact that tragic event had on the American people. None understand that more that the surviving victims and their families. Many have sought legal measures against MGM and given the shear scope of the operation Steven Paddock ran out of their hotel, with the unimaginable fire power he unleashed, the families actions seem understandable. In what can only be described as an absolutely unprecedented move, MGM has decided to sue the victims and their families in an effort to not have to deal with the lawsuits that have followed. An online source explains: 

MGM Resorts International has sued hundreds of victims of the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history in a bid to avoid liability for the gunfire that rained down from its Mandalay Bay casino-resort in Las Vegas.

The company argues in lawsuits filed Friday in Nevada and California that it has “no liability of any kind” to survivors or families of slain victims under a federal law enacted after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

The lawsuits target victims who have sued the company and voluntarily dismissed their claims or have threatened to sue after a gunman shattered the windows of his Mandalay Bay suite and fired on a crowd gathered below for a country music festival. 

Attorney Robert Eglet, who represents victims in a lawsuit pending in federal court in Nevada, decried the casino-operator’s move. “MGM has done something that in over 30 years of practice is the most outrageous thing I have ever seen,” Eglet said. “They have sued the families of victims while they’re still grieving over their loved ones.”

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New Jersey’s Monmouth Park looks to Sue Sports Leagues now that the Supreme Court has legalized Sports Betting

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing efforts by New Jersey to legalize sports betting. Four years after numerous legal losses and failed attempts, they finally presented a winning argument to the Supreme Court to overturn the existing legislation that limited sports betting to Las Vegas. The driving force behind all those legal defeats was the coalition of professional sports leagues, the NCAA and even the DOJ. And now that the Supreme Court has declared the federal law unconstitutional, there are those that believe the sports leagues should have to pay for the lost revenue due over the years. An online source explains: 

New Jersey’s Monmouth Park is suing US sport’s major leagues over blocking betting in the garden state for the last four years. New Jersey’s first legal sportsbook venue is asking for $150 million from Major League Baseball, National Basketball Association, NFL and the National Collegiate Athletic Association. 

Officials for Monmouth Park said that their relationship between the gambling industry and the sport’s leagues is evidence enough to show proof of revenues lost because of the blocking. The courts is waiting on a formal response from the leagues. They have until July 16^th to file their answer. The Leagues called the request from Monmouth “meritless, if not frivolous”.

Beyond the at-face nature of this $150 million dollar lawsuit being meritless, a deeper look into the issue reveals exactly why this is beyond a long shot. An online source explains: 

The NFL and its allies have doubled down on an effort to prevent Monmouth Park not only from collecting $150 million in damages for being deprived of legal sports betting for a span of 3½ years, but also to deny the racetrack any portion of a $3.4 million injunction bond.

The crux of the case is that, in retrospect, the U.S. Supreme Court found that a New Jersey law passed in 2012, the Sports Wagering Act, actually was valid because the federal law improperly “commandeered” most states into preventing sports betting. But along the way U.S. District Court judge Michael Shipp disagreed with New Jersey, twice, as did a U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals, twice, and a full panel of the Third Circuit, once. Thus the case took six years, only to be turned on its head at the highest level.

The leagues note that the filings by the horsemen “cites no authority for the patently absurd proposition that reliance on a duly enacted federal statute constitutes bad faith because the Supreme Court subsequently invalidated the statute as unconstitutional years after that reliance. Congress enacted PASPA in 1992, and, for more than 25 years, the clear language of the statute expressly provided the Leagues with a cause of action to obtain injunctive relief to address violations of the statute. Until May 2018, every challenge to the constitutionality of PASPA — both before and after the Leagues relied on the statute to seek a TRO [temporary restraining order]— had been rejected.”

“NJTHA has not demonstrated that, given the state of the law on PASPA in 2014, it had a right to operate a sports betting venue at Monmouth Park in October and November 2014, when it was restrained by the TRO from doing so. That the Supreme Court struck down PASPA more than three years later in 2018 is insufficient to summarily conclude that NJTHA had the right to operate a sports book in 2014.” Remember, the law in play in 2014 — the “deregulation” version — was not validated by the Supreme Court. In the fall of the 2014, Monmouth Park wanted to offer privatized sports betting. No court has ever said they could do it that way. It’s an interesting wrinkle that the horsemen may be hard pressed to overcome.

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