Category Archives: Court Case/Decision

UPDATE: Despite Florida Supreme Court Ruling, Gadsden Looking to Authorize Slots in North Florida Again

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing saga of a north Florida county attempting to legalize slot machines. Florida law very clearly outlines the jurisdictions of where slot machines and other gambling are legal, and Gadsden county is not one. The issue of voter approved slot machines in not designated areas reached the Florida Supreme Court and they unanimously agreed Florida law prohibited such gambling venues. However, it appears a new bill has been filed to again allow Gadsden County to hold a referendum on authorizing slot machine gambling at the local race track. Florida Politics breaks down the attempted angle they are taking:

A unanimous Florida Supreme Court last year ruled against the track and facilities in seven other counties that previously passed local referendums allowing slots, saying “nothing in (state gambling law) grants any authority to regulate slot machine gaming to any county.”

The holding was limited to non-charter counties, however. Gadsden does not have a charter but did pass a slots referendum in 2012. Tuesday’s bill responds to the court’s ruling that “the Legislature did not specifically authorize” that referendum.

It would OK the following ballot question: “Shall slot machine gaming be authorized at the pari-mutuel quarter horse racing facility in the City of Gretna?”

The issue was quickly addressed by Executive Direct of Florida group No Casinos, and Paul Seago was very to the point in his opposition:

“First, we think it violates the Florida Constitution, which prohibits expansion of casino gambling without a statewide vote,” he said. “Second, it sets up a violation of the compact between the state and the Seminole Tribe, jeopardizing millions of dollars in revenue.”

The Seminole Tribe of Florida enjoys exclusive rights to offers slots outside of South Florida; breaking that exclusivity entitles the Tribe to reduce or stop paying a cut of its gambling revenue to the state.

“Third, any municipality that thinks casino gambling is a key to economic development need look no further than Atlantic City to see the associated crime and social ills that come with it,” Seago added. “For these reasons we will vigorously oppose HB 1111.”

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UPDATE: The Supreme Court Heard Oral Arguments in the New Jersey Sports Betting Case and Experts think the Court Might Side with Gambling Expansion

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing events surrounding legalized state sports gambling as it pertains to New Jersey. For years they have tried and failed to legalize sports betting in their state. The issue has finally made it to the Supreme Court and the sides have been fairly well documented, with New Jersey and gambling operators seeking legalized sports betting and the major sports organizations such as the NCAA, NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL and the Trump Administration’s Department of Justice backing existing Federal law which prohibits sports betting outside of Las Vegas. Oral arguments have now been heard and early statements by a majority of the justices seem to indicate they might side with New Jersey. Forbes reports:

Proponents of legalized sports betting had to be feeling confident after last Monday’s oral argument in/NCAA v. Christie/ — the so-called New Jersey sports betting case, in which leagues including the NFL, the NBA and Major League Baseball are seeking to prevent the state from permitting such gambling. The general consensus among those in attendance was that the Supreme Court appears poised to invalidate the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), the 1992 federal law that bans states from authorizing or licensing sports betting.

By my count, at least five justices — John Roberts, Anthony Kennedy, Neil Gorsuch, Samuel Alito and, surprisingly, Stephen Breyer (one of the court’s more liberal members) — indicated that they believed PASPA violates the 10th Amendment’s anti-commandeering principle, which forbids the federal government from commanding the states to implement federal laws or policies that would interfere with state sovereignty.

From the tenor of the oral argument, with only Justices Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg appearing to credit the leagues’ argument that PASPA is a straightforward preemption law, one could easily envision a decisive victory for New Jersey. A 6-3 margin sounds about right — at least that’s my prediction.

Additional factors seem to indicate a shocking reversal from where the issue was just months ago, following 6 failed attempts by New Jersey. ROI provides the additional analysis:

“When you look at recent history on U.S. Supreme Court rulings, 83 percent show a reversal of the lower court opinion; and in the past five years, that figure is still over 70 percent,” Wallach said.

“So, all of the metrics show a change is afoot. What that change looks like, we’ll have to wait and see. It might not be whether New Jersey prevails on its partial repeal, but how sweeping of a decision in New Jersey’s favor it turns out to be.”

Court followers suggest the decision would come in spring or later. Just months ago, New Jersey and the gaming industry believed it had exhausted all efforts to win this case. But, to the surprise of many, on June 27 the Supreme Court decided it would take the case. “Look at where this case was just five months ago,” Wallach said. “It wasn’t even being mentioned. Now it’s going to the Supreme Court. New Jersey has lost six battles on this case in the lower courts. But this is the one that counts.

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The Trump Administration and 30 other Advocacy Groups Filed Supreme Court Briefs supporting the NFL and other’s Opposition to the New Jersey Sports Gambling Case

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing saga of events surrounding New Jersey’s attempt to legalize sports betting in their state. All attempts have resulted in failure and this latest attempt has managed to reach the Supreme Court. The issue at hand is the constitutionality of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA). The Federal government has long held sport betting to be illegal outside of a few jurisdictions. They passed PASPA and allowed existing jurisdictions like Las Vegas to continue to offer it. The rest of the states would not be allowed to legalize it. Years later, after New Jersey missed its window to seek sports betting, they have decided they and other states should be allowed to regulate it and that Federal Government interference is a violation of federalism. The NFL, along with the other pro sports leagues and the NCAA, have long opposed expansion of sports betting. Casino Watch Focus reported that they filed their own brief to the Supreme court outlining that the federal government cant command a state government into an action, an act known as impermissible commandeering, but they are fully allowed to the federal government to preempt state action to contravene federal policy. The Department of Justice has long held this same belief and now the Trump Administration has formally filed its own brief outlining PASPA supporting arguments. An online source reports: 

President Donald Trum has been feuding with the NFL in recent weeks over the national anthem controversy. But the Trump administration, via the *Solicitor General’s office*, is supporting the NFL in its ongoing case to stop *New Jersey* from offering sports betting. The Solicitor General says that SCOTUS should uphold the lower courts’ finding that New Jersey’s partial repeal of its sports betting ban did not go far enough to be legal under PASPA.

The leagues have argued that the New Jersey law essentially licenses casinos and horse racing tracks to conduct sports wagering. That puts the state in violation of PASPA, the SG argues. New Jersey argues that PASPA unconstitutionally commandeers it to keep its own laws on the books when it comes to not allowing sports betting. But the SG argues PASPA’s “preemption of state laws authorizing sports-gambling schemes does not violate the Tenth Amendment.”

In addition to the briefs filed by the major sports organizations, the NCAA, and the DOJ, 30 advocacy and political organization have combined to offer their own brief. The addressed the federalism issue head on, but also expanded on why the federal government has compelling interest is preempting gambling expansion on the state level, namely the social costs. An online source explains:

On Monday a broad coalition of organizations led by Stop Predatory Gambling filed an amicus brief (“friends of the court”) in the Supreme Court of the United States, supporting the NCAA, NFL and major professional sports in their opposition to New Jersey’s case seeking to bring sports betting into the state.

Stop Predatory Gambling And a Range of Political and Advocacy Groups Support PASPA In a Brief Focusing on Social Costs of Gambling. The 30 groups, which include the Public Health Advocacy Institute and Concerned Women for America, spend the majority of the 33-page brief discussing negative effects and social costs of gambling.

The groups are “united in their opposition to the exploitation of American communities through commercial gambling” the brief reads.

 Later in the brief, the groups highlight research papers discussing gambling addiction, personal bankruptcies and elevated divorce rates associated with problem gambling, as well as financial costs to states themselves (such as crime) in connection with increased gambling activity. The paper also points a 2015 study by Rachel A. Volberg et al. of the University of Massachusetts School of Public Health and Health Sciences, showing a higher prevalence of gambling problems among sports bettors as compared with other forms of gambling, such as instant lottery games and casino games.

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Unsurprisingly, Casino Lobby Joins New Jersey in Attempt to Sway Supreme Court in favor of Legalized Sports Betting

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the many attempts by New Jersey to legally allow sports betting in their state, despite federal law that makes it illegal. Every attempt made has resulted in the courts shutting down the illegal sports gambling. The case will finally be resolved one way or another later this year when the Supreme Court will examine the issue. The list of opponents of this expanded sports betting is long and includes all the major sports and collegiate organizations such as the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and the NCAA. Not surprisingly, the casino lobby is coming to the side of New Jersey and they have submitted a brief to the Supreme Court. The Washington Examiner reports: 

The American Gaming Association filed a brief on Tuesday supporting Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in his upcoming Supreme Court fight with top U.S. athletic leagues over sports betting. Christie’s team argues that federal law banning sports betting violates states protections under the 10th Amendment. More than two decades ago, New Jersey failed to take advantage of a window in federal law to run sports gambling, but then decided to do so on its own in 2011.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association challenged the New Jersey law, along with the NBA, NFL, NHL, and Major League Baseball. The Supreme Court has yet to set a date for oral arguments this term in the sports gambling case, which will be closely watched as its outcome could change sports gambling rules throughout the country.

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Florida goes after Pari-Mutuels as it Seeks to Enforce Designated-Player Card Games Ruling

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing and developing situation regarding designated player banked card games. This form of card game was offered for four years before its legality was challenged. Last year, however, the court determined the games to be illegal and a violation of the Seminole Compact which outlined exclusive card games at Seminole casinos. As recently reported by Casino Watch Focus that ruling is being challenged in appeals court and is set to be heard next month. In the mean time, swift enforcement has begun to stop these illegal card games. An online source explains:

Florida gambling chiefs have launched legal action against two pari-mutuel venues, the Sarasota Kennel Club and Pensacola Greyhound Racing, for their alleged failure to remove so-called “designated player games” from their premises.

Meanwhile, many of Florida’s other cardrooms and racetracks are bracing themselves for similar action, as the state moves to crack down on the controversial games.

This action is especially important given litigation was dropped by the Seminole’s in exchange for the state agreeing truly enforce the courts ruling. The online source continues:

The case had initially been brought by the State against the Seminoles for their refusal to stop offering banked games once their initial five-year compact expired in 2015. But the tribe countersued over the exclusivity violation, forcing the state into a humiliating retreat. In July, both parties agreed to an end to litigation and the state vowed it would take “aggressive enforcement action” against pari-mutuels that violated the ban on the games it had previously permitted.

Nick Iarossi, a lobbyist for Jacksonville Greyhound Racing, told Sunshine State News that the state’s actions this week show it intends to live up to its word. “They’re going to come in. They’re going to check tape. They’re going to watch games being played live. And if they see anything out of compliance being done, they’re going to issue administrative complaints and fines,” he said. “So everybody is double- and triple-checking to make sure they’re in compliance.” 

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UPDATE: Florida Decoupling Decision Draws Challenge

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing efforts to decouple dog racing from gambling venues, thus allowing them to operate stand alone slot machine gambling parlors. True decoupling efforts have been prevented, but the first approved case of de facto decoupling just happened in Florida. An old 1980 law was instrumental in the Magic City case and lead to the recent decoupling that will allow the facility to supplement actual races with jai alai matches. That ruling, however, is now being challenged, but its unclear if the challenge will be heard. The Miami CBS affiliate reports: 

Hartman and Tyner, Inc., and H&T Gaming, Inc., which run the Broward pari-mutuel, have filed a motion requesting that the Department of Businessand Professional Regulation vacate or reconsider the decision last month related to Magic City Casino in Miami.

The decision by the department’s Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering would allow Magic City, operated by WestFlagler Associates, to replace dog races with jai alai matches and continue offering lucrative slots. The approval dealt with a long-controversial issue known as a “summer jai alai” permit.

In their motion, attorneys for the Broward pari-mutuel’s operators said, in part, that their effort to intervene in the issue was improperly dismissed by the department. Also, they pointed to a 2004 constitutional amendment that allowed slot machines in Miami-Dade and Broward counties and contend that Magic City is only allowed to offer slots in conjunction with a greyhound-racing permit — not a summer jai alai permit.

“As an existing greyhound permit holder and slot machine gaming operator, intervenors (Hartman and Tyner and H&T Gaming) have a right to be heard as to how the constitutional and statutory provisions are being interpreted as it relates to allowing new permits to be used for expanding slot machine operations,” the motion said. “Intervenors assert that slot machine gaming at West Flagler’s facility pursuant to its summer jai alai permit should not be authorized and would be illegal.”

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Florida Casino Expansion denied in Gambling Permit Case

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the efforts to expand gambling in Florida. The state has an agreement with the Seminole’s to allow tribal casinos in state, but other gambling efforts are more small scale and limited to horse and dog racing as well as various pari-mutual gambling locations. Efforts also took place to bring full-scale, Vegas style casino’s to the area and those too were shut down. That hasn’t stopped outside companies from trying to find new ways into the Florida market. The most recent example involves the sale of a license with the intent to move a facility and expand gambling greatly. The Saint Peters Blog has explained those efforts and how they have been shut down:

State gambling regulators this week shot down a request by a South Florida gambling permit holder who wanted sell the permit and allow the next operator to build on a new location in Broward County.

The *Department of Business and Professional Regulation on Monday said both sales of permits and any relocation of gambling—both time-consuming processes—have to be OK’d by the department’s Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering, which regulates gambling in the state. The decision further cements the state’s control over where and how gambling is offered, particularly after a permit is granted.

The department’s “final order” also is a win for the Seminole Tribe of Florida, which asked to intervene in the case. The Seminoles, who operate the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, had said allowing gambling licenses to be moved within a county “would provide out-of-state companies (with) an incentive to (buy) a license, possibly resulting in increased business competition for the Tribe.”

The company has a deal with an unnamed buy who was hoping to build a casino in a new location. The buyer knows it needs to relocate and build a new casino to be profitable, so this likely means the deal is off and there wont be significant new casino gambling expansion facing Florida families. 

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