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Florida Says Two Poker Rooms Ran Illegal Games

State Alleges That Rooms Ran House-Banked Gambling

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The Sunshine State has accused a pair of its card rooms of running prohibited house-banked games.

Regulators this month filed complaints against the Pensacola Greyhound Track & Poker Room and the Sarasota Kennel Club. The rooms are equipped with 25 and 35 traditional poker tables, respectively. Under Florida gambling rules, only the Seminoles can offer house-banked casino games such as blackjack. The tribe has a handful of casinos in the state.

Florida defines a house-banked game as one “in which the house is a participant in the game, taking on players, paying winners, and collecting from losers or in which the cardroom establishes a bank against which participants play.”

According to the administrative complaints, the two properties held the banned games earlier this month from their respective poker rooms.

The Miami Herald reported that casino games like Three-Card Poker and Ultimate Texas Hold’em began in Florida’s racetrack poker rooms back in 2011. Three years later the state approved them under the argument that having a “designated player” (a third party) serve as the house on behalf of the casino made the games legal.

However, the tribe challenged the games in court, and now Florida has been cracking down on gambling that the tribe says violates its exclusivity. The tribe and the state reached a new gambling compact in July, which allows the Seminoles to continue with lucrative house-banked games for the next 14 years. Florida gets a cut of the revenue in return.

In addition to the casinos in Tampa and Hollywood, the tribe has five other gaming facilities in the Sunshine State. Its gambling business is worth more than $2 billion a year.