Category Archives: Uncategorized

Florida House of Representatives Majority Leader files major Gambling bill; Article on showdown over Seminole gambling agreement quoting me; McCain calls for re-examination of PASPA; Poarch Creek band of Indians threatens to sell marijuana from their Florida land if not given gambling; Comprehensive gambling deal in Florida described as “Enormous, Gargantuan Lift; Quotes from Orlando Sentinel gambling panel; Geller speaks at NCLGS

• Florida House of Representatives Majority Leader Dana Young filed a major re-write of gambling laws in Florida on March 2. This bill is over 320 pages, and will permit destination resorts, historic racing, and many other types of gambling in Florida. We will print a more complete analysis of this bill after we have time to review it, and see what the official Bill analysis says.
• Nick Sortal, the excellent gaming columnist in the Fort Lauderdale SunSentinel, wrote a column entitled “Showdown looming over Seminole gambling agreement.” One of the experts quoted in that article was … me. Sortal quoted Geller as saying “The one thing I can tell you with pretty good certainty is that anybody that tells you with certainty that they know what’s going to happen is wrong”.
• United States Senator John McCain has said that the U.S. Congress needs to reexamine the Federal ban on sports wagering [PASPA]. According to the Washington Post, McCain said “We need a debate in Congress… We need to have a talk with the American people, and we need to probably have hearings in Congress on this whole issue so we can build consensus.”
• The Poarch Creek Band of Indians (Poarch) is an Alabama-based tribe that owns about one acre of land in near Pensacola, Fl, where it is claiming the right to build a casino. According to the Associated Press, the Poarch currently operate a casino in Atmore Alabama, a few miles away from the Pensacola site. The Poarch are not currently a Federally recognized tribe in Florida, but they contend that they have the right to have casino gambling in Florida, based on the amount of time that the Florida land has been owned by the tribe. The Governor Rick Scott administration disagrees, stating that it is ‘premature” to negotiate with the Poarch until they have the necessary Federal recognition in Florida. The AP states that the Poarch are threatening to take advantage of a December opinion by the U.S. Department of Justice which will permit Tribes to raise and sell marijuana on their tribal property, and are stating that they will consider doing this in Florida if the Poarch do not get “a seat at the table” on Florida gambling issues.
• News Service of Florida has published a lengthy analysis of the difficulty in passing a comprehensive gambling bill under the headline “Gambling Deal ‘Enormous, Gargantuan Lift’ This Session”. That quote was from Rep. Dana Young. The article talks about Senate President Andy Gardiner’s repeated statements that he is fine with the Legislature doing nothing this year, and letting that portion of the Seminole Gaming Compact dealing with banked card games “sunset”, or expire. Gardiner has appointed Senate Majority Leader Bill Galvano as the lead on gambling for the Florida Senate. Galvano was the lead for the Florida Legislature five years ago when the Seminole Gaming Compact was originally approved [Although not in the article, it should also be noted that Galvano is currently national Vice-President of the national Council of Legislators from Gaming States (NCLGS), and is expected to become President of that group in 2016]. The article quotes Galvano extensively. The article goes on to say that “any gambling measure runs the risk of being overloaded with wish lists from industry operators, including pari-mutuels in Broward and Miami dade Counties that already have slots but want a lower tax rate and card games to better compete with the nearby Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood.”
• Nick Sortal also wrote an interesting piece in the SunSentinel, including interesting quotes from many top players in the gambling debate from a panel discussion hosted at the Orlando Sentinel, the sister paper of the SunSentinel. Among those quoted were Geoff Freeman, President of the American Gaming Association; Mark Wilson, President of the Florida Chamber of Commerce; John Sowinski, President of; and Izzy Havenick, a member of the family that owns Magic City Casino in Miami, as well as having other Florida Pari-mutuel interests.
• Since I mentioned NCLGS earlier, I want to point out that they had a very successful conference in Las Vegas in January. I spoke on three topics at their committee meetings, which may be a record for any single speaker. I spoke on updates in pari-mutuel technology, pari-mutuel decoupling, and gave an update on Indian gaming state compacts and Tribal recognition. The next NCLGS meeting is in June in Atlantic City.

Is the Seminole Tribe considering unionizing their Florida casinos?; Additional debates on economic impact of Florida gaming; Renewed questions about the renewal of the Seminole gaming Compact; Legislation filed to permit on-line Florida Lottery ticket sales; Instant Racing proving sucessful in Idaho

  • A current rumor circulating in Florida is that The Seminole Tribe of Florida may consider unionizing their Florida Hard Rock casinos and hotels. According to Sunshine State News, the Seminole Tribe of Florida has partnered with the Menominee Tribe of Wisconsin to open a Hard Rock casino in Wisconsin, and has entered into “card check” agreements with two unions there. Of course, even under Republican Governor Scott Walker, Wisconsin has a Legislature that is considered more favorable to Organized Labor than is the Florida Legislature.
  • Once again, the economic impact of gaming in Florida is being debated. Nick Sortal writes in the South Florida Sun Sentinel about conflicting opinions between the America Gaming Association (AGA) and No Casino’s, Inc. The AGA commissioned a study by Oxford Economics, (part of Oxford University in England) showing that the Dade and Broward pari-mutuels with racinos employed 3,453 people and generated $1.2 billion in economic impact. As the AGA represents the private casino industry, it is not surprising that the report does not include the Seminole or Miccosukee casinos, pari-mutuels in other parts of Florida, the Florida Lottery, etc. John Sowinski, the President of No Casinos, stated that that “The slot revenues run the State of Florida for about 18 hours. It is a blip on the screen, a rounding error.” He stated that the spending was money that Floridians would otherwise have spent on other discretionary areas.
  • Capitol News Service of Florida has also recently stated that the future renewal of the Seminole Gaming Compact is uncertain. These rumors continue. Please see my last post for additional details.
  • WEAR, Pensacola, has reported on the possibility of online sales of Lottery Tickets in Florida. Senator Gwen Margolis of Miami has prefiled a bill which would authorize such sales. Opposition to the bill was reported from both conservative opponents of gambling and from convenience stores, which are concerned that online sales could draw sales away from convenience stores. Although commissions on sales of lottery tickets are relatively low, there is a belief among at least some convenience stores that the sale of lottery tickets brings in patrons who also buy higher margin objects.
  • Instant Racing in Idaho has started off very well, raising both praise and concern. According to an Associated Press article by Kimberlee Krueski, 200 Historic Racing machines at Les Boies Park, (a pari-mutuel located near Boise, Idaho), are collecting millions of dollars a month. In October of 2014, for example, the amount wagered was over $7.2 million dollars. The Idaho Racing Commission has determined that Historic Racing, a/k/a Instant Racing, where the last few seconds of races are shown on individual screens and individual betting is permitted, does not violate the Idaho Constitutional ban on slot machines. Although this type of gambling has been supported by the pari-mutuel industry, and passed by the Idaho Legislature, some opposition has recently surfaced. The Coeur d’Alene tribe, which originally did not oppose Instant Racing, and at least some Conservative Legislators, now oppose Instant Racing after seeing how successful it has become.  Editors note – Historic Racing machines have been discussed in Florida as a possibility for the pari-mutuels outside of Miami Dade and Broward Counties.

Greenspoon Marder and Steve Geller play major roles at Florida Gaming Conference; Questions arise as to whether portions of the Seminole Gaming Compact will be renewed; NBA commissioner Adam Silver writes in favor of legalizing Sports Wagering; Florida Revenue Estimating Conference meets, discusses impact of Dania Casino and Seminole Compact; “Adult Arcade” raided in North port, Florida, attorney claims arcade completely legal.

  • Greenspoon Marder was the Presenting Sponsor at the Florida Gaming Conference, hosted by Spectrum Gaming, held November 10 and 11 at the Hyatt Hotel in Downtown Miami. I Spoke on the panel “Gaming Outside of South Florida – The Right Move?”, Moderated the panel “Legislative Update – What’s Next for Florida”, and introduced both Keynote Speakers, Senator Maria Sachs, and City of Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado.
  • Numerous stories were written about the Florida gaming congress, including by Nick Sortal from the Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel, who wrote about the fears that the South Florida Casino market is saturated, and Nick Wingfield, who wrote that Churchill Downs is buying mobile games company Big Fish Games.
  • Probably the biggest issue facing Florida this year is whether or not that portion of the Seminole Compact restricting anyone other than the Seminoles from having banked card games will expire or be renewed. The Compact has a 20 year term, but that portion dealing with banked card games and increased revenue sharing was only for 5 years, and expires in 2015. The Tampa Tribune wrote an article entitled “New Senate head puts tribal gaming into question”, which discusses the possibilities that the Compact may not be renewed. Although Governor Rick Scott, a proponent of the Compact, was re-elected, the article discusses that the Legislature may be more assertive on these issues this year, and may not be supportive of extending the Compact. The new Senate President, Andy Gardiner, is from Orlando, where Disney World, which opposes gambling, is influential. Gardiner opposes gambling, and has said that with Florida’s recovering economy, he is prepared to do without the Seminole revenue sharing. Senate Majority Leader Bill Galvano, who is expected to play a major role in any gambling bill, says that when the Senate discusses the Compact, he expects that all other gambling issues will be discussed as part of compact negotiations.
  • NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has written an op-ed in the New York Times stating that wagering on NBA games should be legalized. This is the first time that I have seen that the head of any Major League Professional Sports League in the United States has come out in favor of legal sports wagering, which would violate the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA). Silver said that Congress should pass legislation to tax, regulate, and reform wagering on Sports betting. Silver did not provide specifics on what type of legislation he would like to see.
  • The Washington Post wrote an excellent story talking about Silver’s call for legal sports gambling, and wrote about the history of sports and gambling, including a discussion of where sports gambling stops and fantasy sports wagering begins.
  • The Tampa Bay Times covered the meeting of the State of Florida Revenue Estimating Conference, which estimated that the closing of Dania Casino and Jai Alai should cost the state about $3 million dollars in lost tax revenue. The Revenue Estimating conference described that loss as relatively insignificant compared to the potential loss if Florida does not renew the Seminole gaming Compact.
  • The Sarasota Herald Tribune wrote an article which demonstrates the difficulty in enforcing the laws against internet cafes and “adult arcades” in Florida. Law enforcement agents raided “The Spin Depot”, a North Port, Florida arcade. Law enforcement removed machines and records from the arcade. Three people, including a former City Commissioner, were booked into the County Jail. The attorney defending the arcade and the Commissioner stated that he believed that the business “operated lawfully as an arcade amusement center and that no illegal activity took place.

NBA commissioner discusses expansion of sports betting; Resorts World launches gambling cruises from Port Everglades to Bimini; lax penalties by Florida regulator for racing greyhound owners and trainers; Analysis of Seminole Indian gaming revenues

  • According to CNNMoney, NBA commissioner Adam Silver says that it is inevitable that legal Sports Betting can expand beyond Nevada, the only state where it is currently legal. Silver also seemed to indicate that the NBA might be less opposed to such an expansion than it has been in the past. Of course, there are current legal arguments against this. Followers of this blog are familiar with the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), which seems to prevent such an expansion without a change in Federal law.
  • The Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel says that Resorts World, a company owned by Malaysian gambling giant Genting, will be adding gambling cruises from Port Everglades in Broward County to Bimini. Genting was the driving force behind efforts the last two legislative sessions to bring Destination Resorts to Florida. Genting has accumulated property in downtown Miami to try and bring such a destination resort.
  • In line with rising criticism of live greyhound racing in Florida, Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald wrote a lengthy expose detailing how the Florida Department of Pari-Mutuel wagering (DPMW) has taken too long to discipline greyhound owners and trainers, and given too-lenient penalties. Live greyhound racing has been under fire across the nation, but particularly in Florida, where the greyhound track permitholders and animal rights activists, formerly bitter foes, have set aside their differences to unite and try and minimize or eliminate live greyhound racing requirements as a condition for the permitholders to keep their licenses for other types of gambling, such as slot machines and card rooms.
  • The Sun Sentinel wrote an article comparing the gross gambling handle of the Seminole Indian tribe and the Miami Dade and Broward counties racinos. The Seminole tribe is expected to bring in about $2.1 billion dollars in gambling revenue (after payouts) this year. The Tampa Hard Rock was the largest contributor, with 42% of gaming revenue ($887 million), while the Broward Hard Rock was in second place, with 25% of gaming revenue ($528 million). Coincidentally, the Broward Hard Rock’s $528 million is estimated to be around the same as the combined revenue of all of the South Florida racinos ($531 million).

Dania Casino and Jai Alai closes for remodeling; Isle of Capri files Rules Challenge against Florida DBPR; New Proposed Rules on Indian Tribal recognition; Congressman repeats call for legislation reversing of DOJ ruling legalizing internet gambling; Increased pressure on financial institutions and casinos to comply with anti-money-laundering rules; New Mexico sues DOI over proposed Indian Gaming Compact; Adult Arcades try to stay in business by changing business model; Pinellas County Commission rejects current request by Derby Lanes Kennel Club for referendum on slot machines.

  • According to the Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel, Dania Casino and Jai Alai is closing for remodeling only six months after it opened. The facility was grossing much less than its nearby neighbors Gulfstream Racetrack, Mardi Gras Casino, and the Seminole Hard Rock Casino in Broward. The attorney for Dania stated that Dania was unable to fully renovate the property while parts of it were still open to the public.
  • Isle of Capri casino in Pompano Beach has filed a Rule Challenge against the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering (DPMW). According to the Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel, the DPMW changed its prior interpretation of what gross revenue racinos with poker need to pay taxes on. The prior interpretation did not require racinos to pay taxes on a “dealer add-on”, which served as a tip to the poker dealers. The new interpretation requires the racinos to pay taxes on the dealer add-on. The attorney for Isle of Capri has challenged the ruling on a number of legal grounds.
  • The Obama administration has proposed an update to rules on recognition of Indian tribes. Many tribes across the Country have either never been Federally recognized, or have had their tribal recognition revoked, as pointed out in the Seattle Times, printing an article from the McClatchy Washington Bureau. The Federal Bureau of Indian Affairs is accepting comments on the proposed rule until September 30. While some groups support the proposed rule, others oppose it. Some of the opposition is from groups that oppose making the tribal recognition process any easier, while some of the opposition is from groups that feel that the rules still make it to difficult to achieve recognition. This has the potential to affect Florida, as there are several groups in Florida seeking Federal tribal recognition.
  • The Hill cites a new report from Newsweek where Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) repeated his request for Congress to pass legislation reversing the “Christmas Surprise”, where the United States Department of Justice reversed its longstanding policy on internet gambling. As most of our readers will recall, that ruling reversed decades of opinions that the Wire Act made all internet gambling illegal, and stated that the Wire Act only applied to sports wagering, and that therefore intrastate internet gambling could be made legal by the affected states. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) has sponsored the Legislation in the Senate. Chaffetz took particular aim at online gambling sites aimed at children.
  • A lengthy article by Peter Rudegair and Brett Wolf from Reuters talks about the increased pressure from United States regulatory officials on financial institutions and casinos to enforce anti money-laundering rules, and the harsh penalties being imposed for failure to fully comply.
  • According to Multiple media reports, the Governor of New Mexico has sued the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) to prevent the DOI from implementing an Indian Gambling Compact with the Pojoaque Pueblo which the State has not approved. The new proposed compact would eliminate revenue sharing with the State, allow the serving of alcohol in gambling areas, and make other changes. In 2007, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in Texas ruled that the DOI could not impose compacts in this fashion, but that ruling was not appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, and New Mexico is not in the 5th
  • WTVJ NBC 6 in Miami, did a hidden camera expose showing how Adult Arcades, which were made illegal under Florida law, are continuing to operate by changing how they operate. This expose showed an Adult Arcade which maintains that what they are doing is now legal, because the facility is now a “Social Club”.
  • The Pinellas County Commission rejected the request by Derby Lanes Kennel Club to add a referendum to the upcoming election on legalizing slot machines at Derby Lanes. The Tampa Tribune reports that the Commission was supportive of Derby Lanes, but raised questions about whether such a referendum would be effective, if the Commission had time to draft a referendum by the deadline to submit to the Supervisor of Elections, and raised questions about the cost. The Commission instead said that they would consider adding the issue of legalizing slot machines at pari-mutuels throughout the State to its State Legislative agenda.

Historic Racing, Florida International University partners with City University of Macau, No Casinos releases list of Legislative candidates signing anti-gambling pledge

  • One of the types of gambling expansion that Florida discussed during this year’s Legislative Session involved “historic racing”.  Historic racing is a type of electronic gambling where bettors wager on real previous pari-mutuel races, from which the identifying information has been removed.  This means that the wagering is primarily a game of chance, while viewing the end of a real race.  Although not as fast as slot machines, they can still have several wagers in a minute.  Florida is not the only state considering historic racing.  According to the Austin American-Statesman, a State Representative in Texas has written to the Texas Attorney General, seeking an opinion as to whether the Texas Racing Commission has the authority to approve historic racing without specific legislative authority.
  • Miami Today has published a story about a partnership between Florida International University (FIU) and City University of Macau.  The story speculates about a relationship in which FIU’s Hospitality and Tourism Management program may work with Macau’s large gambling and hotel industry.
  • No Casinos, a Florida based anti-gambling group, released a list of Florida Legislative candidates who signed the group’s anti-gambling pledge.   The Tampa Tribune has provided the story and a list of those candidates.  While most of the candidates are in conservative rural areas of the state, or in the Greater Orlando area where the existing tourism industry is strongly anti-gambling, I note that several of the candidates are from Miami-Dade or Broward counties.  It is probably not a smart political move for candidates from South Florida (where support for legal gambling is strong) to have taken take this pledge.

Florida Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners Association sued by unhappy member, Ebro Greyhound Track debate on whether greyhound racing should continue, and comparison between expanded gambling and expanded legalization of marijuana.

  • According to the Ocala Star-Banner, The Florida Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners Association (FTBOA) has been sued by one of its members, who alleges multiple improprieties on the part of the FTBOA.  The lawsuit includes allegations that the FTBOA has become too political, that the officers and directors have been elected improperly, and that the Legislature improperly designated the FTBOA as one of the state recognized horse racing associations in Florida.  The Plaintiff formerly owned the land where Oxford Downs is located, and the FTBOA has filed a lawsuit against the current owners of Oxford Downs, as mentioned in a prior entry in this blog.  The attorney for the Plaintiff is a partner in the Gretna facility which was granted a license for pari-mutuel barrel racing.  The FTBOA also was a plaintiff in a lawsuit against the Gretna facility.
  • An article in the Panama City (FL) News Herald contains a response by the owners of Ebro Greyhound Park to general allegations of animal cruelty in greyhound racing.  Rick Hess’ family owns Ebro, and he defends thoroughbred racing, arguing that animal rights groups are trying to end thoroughbred racing in Florida, which would also hurt greyhounds and jobs.  Carey Theil, the Executive Director of Grey2K USA Worldwide, a leading group seeking to end greyhound races, agreed with Theil’s statement that they are trying to eliminate greyhound racing, and went on to explain reasons that Theil believes greyhound racing should be eliminated.
  • The Daytona Beach News-Journal published a column by Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson in which Gerson compares the growth of gambling to the growth of legal marijuana.  Gerson states that both bring in new tax dollars and are supported in the name of personal liberty.  Gerson states that “both find common ground in encouraging and exploiting the weaknesses and addictions of citizens.”

AP Publishes Article on Hard Times at Greyhound Tracks, and Florida Lottery Sets New Annual Sales Record

The AP published a good story on July 9 on the hard times facing racing at the greyhound tracks in Florida, using Flagler Dog Track (a/k/a Magic City Casino) as an example, quoting Izzy Havenick, a member of the family that has owned Flagler since the 1950’s.  This blog has referenced Havenick before.  The article discusses the move to decouple racing from casino gaming.  The article quotes Lonny Powell , President of the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners Association (also previously discussed in this blog) expressing concerns about decoupling because of the precedent that it could set for Horse Racing.

According to the News Service of Florida, the Florida Lottery has set a new annual sales record of over $5.3 billion, with over $1.4 billion of that going to education funding.

Will the Florida racing dates wars between Hialeah and Gulfstream return? Fight between Florida Horsemen and Oxford Downs continues. Gaming financial news

  • “Its Baaack…”  For many years, a regular fight in Tallahassee was the Legislative battle over racing dates between Gulfstream Park and Hialeah Park.  This finally ended when Hialeah ran its last thoroughbred race in 2001.  Hialeah lost its pari-mutuel permit, and then returned as a quarter-horse track.  However, according to the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, Hialeah is once again considering thoroughbred racing.  Although Hialeah says that it would like to work cooperatively with Gulfstream, those of us who went through racing date wars wonder if this is the first step towards a renewed racing date battle.  Hialeah has also announced a $60 million dollar expansion to their Casino facility.
  • The fight between United Florida Horsemen ( which includes the Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners’ Association, and the Florida Quarter Horse Association) and Oxford Downs continues, according to an excellent article by Carlos Medina in the Ocala Star-Banner.  UFH contends that the Oxford track is not a real pari-mutual, just a front for a card room.  “It’s preposterous.  The State of Florida never ceases to amaze me”, … It’s a phony baloney deal they are pulling off.” said Kent Stirling, President of the FHBPA. The FTBOA has filed for an injunction, alleging that Marion County should not have permitted Oxford Downs to open. Tony Mendola, one of the owners of the track, disputes the allegations. Although Mendola admits that there is currently no clubhouse, permanent restrooms, concessions are limited to water and soda, and the races are minimal, he explains that once the card room and simulcasting are producing revenue, that the facility will improve.
  • According to Bloomberg, Aristocrat Leisure Ltd. of Australia is buying Video Game Technologies, Inc, of Tennessee, for $1.3 billion dollars.  This would increase Aristocrat’s number of gambling machines from 8,200 to 28,400.
  • Moody’s Investors Service has downgraded its outlook for the United States gaming industry from stable to negative.




Casino shutdowns in Atlantic City highlight the peril of gambling saturation

IN THE BEGINNING, there was Las Vegas. A rib was taken from the side of Las Vegas, which became Atlantic City. Las Vegas and Atlantic City begat Tunica and Riverboats and Indian Casinos and Pennsylvania and on and on and on. Soon people (mostly gambling experts, analysts, and business owners) began wondering when all this begetting would start to cause problems with saturation in the gambling industry. We now know.

According to the Associated Press, Atlantic City, which started 2014 with 12 casinos, may be down to 9 casinos by the end of 2014. The Atlantic Club has already closed, Revel says that it will close unless another company purchases it, and Caesars Entertainment says that it plans to close down the Showboat Casino at the end of this August.
A look at the map of the Mid-Atlantic region helps to explain the woes of Atlantic City. New Jersey is surrounded by New York, Delaware, and Pennsylvania. Delaware has long had casino gambling, New York is adding it, and Pennsylvania has become the 600 pound gorilla of casino gambling in the east, second only to the 800 pound gorilla of Nevada. Maryland and Connecticut are also nearby, adding to the competition.

Although the ongoing expansion of casino gaming continues, and it is difficult to determine where and when saturation will occur, we now have a clear example that saturation can and will occur when there are too many gambling opportunities with too few gamblers.