Category Archives: Court Case/Decision

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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UPDATE: Florida Greyhound Amendment wont need a trial: Bench Judge to Determine if the Amendment is Misleading

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the various decoupling efforts in the greyhound industry. Currently dog racing must take place at the tracts in order for the facility to offer slot machines or other forms of gambling. During an effort to ban greyhound racing, legislative leaders took a turn that would effectively allow the greyhound industry to stop offering live racing, but would be able to still operate the other gambling activities, effectively creating mini casinos. Its been outlined before why this is the wrong avenue to take regarding a proper end to dog racing while safe guarding Florida families from the dangers of mini-casino type gambling.

This decoupling effort is not coming through the legislative process where it belongs, but rather through an attempted legislative amendment. Former Florida Lieutenant Gov. Jeff Kottkamp, has been outspoken on the issue and explained the many reasons this constitutional amendment would be misleading to the public and the wrong legal avenue to regulate the industry. Retired Florida Supreme Court Justice Major B. Hardin joined the legal efforts as well. The primary method for stopping this dangerously deceptive decoupling amendment is a lawsuit and it now appears a full trial wont be necessary. An online source reports: 

A circuit judge has canceled a July trial over the ballot language in Amendment 13, which would ban greyhound racing in the state of Florida. The Florida Greyhound Association claims the ballot summary is misleading and is asking for the proposed constitutional amendment to be removed from the November ballot. Circuit Court Judge Karen Gievers has decided to forego a trial and instead make her decision based on legal arguments alone.

The proposal, placed on the ballot by the Constitution Revision Commission, would outlaw greyhound racing at dog tracks by 2020, a process known as “decoupling.” Tracks would still be allowed to operate other, more lucrative gambling activities, such as slot machines and poker rooms.

“You can lie to the CRC, you can even lie to the media,” said Jack Cory, with the Florida Greyhound Association. “You cannot lie to the court under oath without severe consequences. So we’re very comfortable with where the judge’s ruling was.”

Regardless of how the circuit court rules, both sides are gearing up for a heated legal battle, which will likely end up in the Florida Supreme Court.

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UPDATE: Former Florida Supreme Court Justice Joins Legal Battle to Prevent Dangerously Deceptive Decoupling Greyhound Bill from Appearing on the Florida Ballot

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the recent attempts to completely remove the gambling associated with greyhound racing from Florida. This was not something that passed in the legislature this year, so the idea was to propose the idea through the constitutional amendment committee. It started a as a full removal, but it didn’t have the votes to pass as is, so it quickly morphed into a very dangerous and quite frankly deceptive decoupling bill. If you remove the greyhound racing, but allow slot machines and other types of gambling, all that you have done is created a network of mini-casinos.

Many don’t like the idea of the dog races, so they wouldn’t ordinarily stop at those places to gamble, but if no races exist, then its simply a convenient place to stop and gamble, and that can lead to all kinds of negative effects for Florida families. Many see this new amendment as simply eliminating the greyhound racing and gambling all together, so it’s a very deceptive bill. Beyond those reasons, there is also the problems with using the Florida constitution to be the legal space to enact such a change, especially when such a change should be done through normal legislation. The desire to solve this problem the proper way, has generated a lawsuit, and now some major support and legitimacy to the position has been established with a new addition to the legal team. Florida Politics explains:

Retired Florida Supreme Court Justice Major B. Harding has joined the Florida Greyhound Association (FGA) legal team. The addition of Harding, a high court appointee of the late Democratic Gov. Lawton Chiles, was announced Wednesday by association general counsel Jeff Kottkamp. Harding served on the Florida Supreme Court 1991-2002; Kottkamp was Florida’s lieutenant governor from 2007-11 under Gov. Charlie Crist.

“The suit requests that the court strike Amendment 13 from the general election ballot,” Harding said in a statement. “The basis for our challenge is that the ballot title and summary do not fairly inform the voters of what they are being asked to vote on … In order to maintain the integrity of both the election process and our Constitution, we believe the amendment should be struck.”

Among other claims, the suit says the ballot title and summary “… fail to inform voters that its passage would essentially expand gambling by allowing pari-mutuel facilities in Florida to convert to mini-casinos.” The amendment would allow other gambling activities such as card games to continue at tracks after dog racing ends.

Kottkamp and Paul Hawkes, a former appellate judge and now also on the FGA legal team, have previously opined against the measure, saying the CRC “was never intended to be a ‘super-Legislature’ or a vehicle to propose putting issues in the constitution that ‘can’t get through the Legislature.’

“And, it was certainly never intended they would place proposals on the ballot merely because they were thought to be a ‘good idea,’ ” they said.

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Despite Supreme Court Ruling to Legalize State Sports Gambling, Florida doesn’t Seem Likely to See Such Gambling Expansion this Soon

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing efforts by New Jersey to legalize sports betting, including the news that the Supreme Court may have just put forth the largest expansion of gambling policy ever by allowing all states to now legalize it. For months states have been gearing up for this possible scenario and the sports leagues have likewise been in communication with state legislatures to ensure they see a piece of the new gambling pie. However, Florida may be one of the few states that wont see an immediate rush to capitalize on this new gambling expansion frenzy. The Florida Times Union online explains: 

in Florida, two major obstacles — a ballot initiative and the need for a special legislative session — stand in the way of joining states such as Mississippi and Pennsylvania, which have cleared the decks to allow gamblers to bet on professional and collegiate sports teams as soon as the NFL season begins in the fall.

A proposed constitutional amendment on the November ballot will allow Florida voters to decide if they want to control decisions about gambling, something now largely left up to the Legislature. If Amendment 3 passes, voters statewide would have to sign off on future gambling expansions.

Sen. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, who has been a lead negotiator on gambling issues for several years, said Monday the high court ruling won’t have an immediate impact on Florida, where sports betting is illegal.

Galvano and his House counterpart, Jose Oliva, R-Miami Lakes, last month raised the possibility of a special session to address perpetually elusive gambling issues but abandoned the notion after Gov. Rick Scott secured a yearlong gambling deal with the Seminole Tribe. The agreement is focused on the tribe’s promise to continue making payments to the state in exchange for “exclusivity” over “banked” card games, such as blackjack. A special session in reaction to Monday’s court decision is unlikely, Galvano said.

John Sowinski, the chairman of Voters in Charge, a political committee behind the amendment, called the court ruling another reason to support the proposed constitutional amendment because the measure would give voters a say in gambling activities. “A lot of people in Florida would be relieved to know that, if we’re going to have sports gambling in this state, it’s going to happen by design of Florida voters, not by Tallahassee politicians and gambling lobbyists,” he said.

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UPDATE: Supreme Court Strikes down Federal Sports Betting Ban, Creates ‘Wild West’ for Sports Gambling and Potential Devastation for Problem Gamblers

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing efforts lead by New Jersey to reverse federal bans of sports betting. After many failed attempts, New Jersey has finally succeeded in opening the door for them to regulate sports gambling. This obviously opens the door for every state as well, and the ramifications will be serious. In an op-ed piece published by the Hill, John W. Kindt, a professor of business and legal policy in the Department of Business Administration at the University of Illinois’ Gies College of Business, who for 20 years has focused his specialty research on the societal, business and economic impacts of decriminalizing gambling activities, outlines how such a reversal of policy creates a Wild West: 

On Monday, the Supreme Court issued its decision in Murphy v. NCAA, a case brought by the State of New Jersey to overturn the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), which was sponsored, ironically enough, by former Sen. Bill Bradley (D-N.J.), a professional basketball legend, to protect the integrity of U.S. sports. Trying to legalize sports gambling, New Jersey lost twice in U.S. district court and twice in the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals between 2012-2014. In a perplexing move, however, the Supreme Court accepted New Jersey’s appeal and heard the case on Dec. 4, despite the recommendation of the Office of the Solicitor General advising the court to reject New Jersey’s appeal.

Generally ignoring the practical economic and social effects of enabling unregulated “real time” sports gambling, for example by kids on cell phones, a divided court decided “to destroy PASPA rather than salvage the statute” complained Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in her dissent.

The majority decision focused almost exclusively on New Jersey’s myopic arguments invoking the “anti-commandeering” principle of a 1992 case New York v. United States, while ignoring the obvious interstate impacts and the well-established Commerce Clause empowering congressional action on interstate sports.

While appearing innocuous to the uninitiated, the Murphy case will quickly generate ubiquitous and unregulated “Wild West” sports gambling. It is academically well-documented that this type of gambling is poised to explode with local and strategic economic impacts negatively affecting the U.S. economy.

While unlikely, immediate congressional actions regulating the practical impacts of the Murphy case are necessary.

While the Supreme Court cited the U.S. Gambling Commission’s 1999 Final Report, the court missed the Final Report’s numerous recommendations against gambling in cyberspace — particularly sports gambling.

Sports gambling in real time on cell phones and computers was highlighted as an example of the “crack cocaine” for hooking college students, teens and kids into addicted gambling. The Supreme Court also missed a wide spectrum of negative economic and financial issues associated with widespread sports gambling.

The complete editorial can be read HEREAdditionally, its important to understand this move might be the single greatest expansion of gambling seen by a single court case. The ramification of such explosive legalized gambling cant be overstated. A Press Release by the National Council on Problem Gambling explains their position: 

“Today’s ruling by the Supreme Court is the largest potential expansion of gambling in our nation’s history now that an additional 49 states have the opportunity to legalize sports betting. NCPG believes the expansion of legalized sports gambling in the United States will likely increase gambling participation and gambling problems unless steps are taken to minimize harm,” says Marlene Warner, President of the NCPG Board of Directors.

NCPG’s wide-ranging and deep experience in these fields since 1972 allows the organization to provide a clear-eyed perspective on both the benefits and pitfalls of legalized gambling, and to find a middle way that addresses concerns on all sides. Revenues from legalized sports betting must be viewed in the context of social costs. Research has shown that current gambling activity generates over $115 billion in overall revenue to local, state and federal government, but also results in $6.5 billion in associated costs, including criminal justice and healthcare costs. These costs are often hidden and difficult to see. Approximately 2% of adults experience gambling problems, or approximately 5 million people. These social and economic impacts must not be ignored.

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