Judge distributes poker room workers poker games

Siding with state regulators, an administrative law judge ruled that pari-mutuel pari-mutuel employees were not allowed to play poker in their workplaces.

The state pari-mutuel division has the authority to prohibit gambling hall employees from placing bets where they work as part of the agency’s regulatory oversight, Administrative Judge GW Chisenhall wrote.

“There is a clear and logical connection between regulating gambling hall operations and prohibiting gambling hall employees from gambling where they work,” Chisenhall wrote.

The decision came in a case filed by a Marion County pari-mutuel betting operator, who argued that a rule prohibiting gambling hall staff from placing bets where they work was beyond regulatory authority. of the agency.

Lawyers for South Marion Real Estate Holdings LLC, which operates as Oxford Downs, filed the challenge in March.

Florida law gives the Mutual Betting Division “full authority and power to make, adopt, modify, or repeal rules relating to the operations of the gambling hall…and to regulate the authorized gambling hall activities in the State”.

The law also requires gambling hall employees to have state-issued professional licenses.

The disputed rule, which has been in effect since at least 2004, states that arcade workers with a professional license “are prohibited from participating in authorized card games in the arcade where they are employed”.

But lawyers for the Marion County gambling hall argued that the law does not specifically grant gambling regulators the power to ban workers from playing poker where they are employed.

Although the law “contains provisions restricting participation in authorized gaming, none of the provisions prevent holders of professional gaming room licenses from participating in authorized gaming in the establishment where they are employed”, argued attorneys from the Lockwood law firm in the March petition.

Moreover, “nothing in [the law] authorizes the division to adopt rules imposing additional restrictions on who can participate in authorized games,” they wrote.

The law prohibits people under the age of 18 as well as “any objectionable, undesirable or disruptive person” from participating in authorized games, the lawyers argued.

“These provisions do not specifically authorize the division to adopt rules governing who may participate in permitted games,” they added.

But state attorneys argued that the ban “fits squarely within” the Pari-Mutuel Division’s regulatory authority.

The challenged rule “regulates the operations of card rooms by establishing who can play in those card rooms,” state attorneys wrote in a response filed in April.

Chisenhall agreed that state law grants the agency “a grant of legislative authority” for the rule.

“Therefore, it is not necessary for the licensing statute to explicitly delineate every conceivable topic within an agency’s regulatory jurisdiction,” Chisenhall wrote Monday.

The law gives regulators “broad authority to regulate gambling hall operators, and prohibiting gambling hall employees from gambling where they are employed is logically and integrally related to gambling hall operations,” wrote Chisenhall in the order of 13 pages.

“Distilled to its essence, the claimants’ (Oxford Downs) argument on this point is that the power to make rules relating to the operations of the gambling hall does not encompass the power to make a rule prohibiting employees from gambling hall to participate in licensed gambling hall games where they work,” Chisenhall wrote. “However, what is the most fundamental aspect of gambling hall operations than deciding who can and cannot patronize a gambling hall?”

Oxford Downs intends to appeal the order, attorney John Lockwood told the News Service of Florida on Monday.

Dara Kam reports for the News Service of Florida.

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