Casino News

Judge Sides with Magic City Casino in Dispute over South Florida Jai Alai License

According to reliable sources, on Tuesday this week, an administrative law judge has ruled in favor of the Havenick family, which runs the Magic City Casino in Miami. The judge dismissed the gambling regulators’ claims that the casino license to replace racing activities with jai alai operations was issued mistakenly and it should be taken away. Administrative Law Judge Robert Meale explained that the licenses are allowed to be relocated within 35 miles of the original location of the permit.

In 2011, the Magic City Casino applied for a so-called “summer jai alai” permit, as part of its “decoupling” plan. This permit allowed operators with the lowest profitability to replace greyhound racings with jai alai operations. Initially, the state gaming regulators dismissed the casino’s request, but an appeals court advised them to reconsider their decision. In March this year, the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation approved Magic City Casino’s request to abandon racing activity and add jai alai operations instead.

Some time ago, the owners of the Magic City Casino in Miami received a permit to drop dog and horse races, while continue operating more lucrative games as slots and card games. Earlier this year, the state gaming regulators approved a request filed from the owners of the Magic City Casino to add jai alai and end greyhound racing, supposing that the new jai alai fronton is built on the same property. This has been touted as the first-of-its-kind ruling within Florida’s borders.

However, shortly after the regulators put a stamp on the casino’s request, the Summer Jai-Alai Partnership, also known as “Summer Partners” decided to relocate the jai alai games from Miami-Dade County to Broward County. According to the gambling regulators, such relocation is not allowed and the license should be revoked. This unleashed a legal spat between the two parties, which seems to finally near its resolution.

The Judge Stance on the Matter

On Tuesday, Judge Meale pointed out that there was an attached note to the casino’s application, that recommended the relocation of the jai alai operations from Miami-Dade to Broward. Judge Meale also scolded the gambling regulators for changing their policy that allowed licenses to relocate operations within 35 miles of the original location of the permit.

In a court filing, Summer Partners attorney John Lockwood accused the state gambling watchdog of changing the law “as a result of political pressure”, imposed by Summer Partners’ main rival Fronton Holdings. In an interview with The News Service of Florida, Mr. Lockwood argued that the gambling regulators cannot revoke Magic City Casino’s license, just because “they changed their mind”.