Many wondered how the heck a license could have been issued in the first place, but Florida, in their haphazard way of doing things, the DPMW managed to come to a conclusion that barrel match racing could constitute pari-mutuel racing.
Two seasons later, the administrative law judge came out with his ruling. If you are interested, you can read the whole eight-five page ruling, but to cut to the chase, here is what the ALJ ruled:
- Pari-mutuel match wagering is probably not allowed by Florida Statute but as an ALJ, he is not allowed to make a ruling on an interpretation of the law; that is something for the agencies and civil courts to decide.
- Where the DPMW failed is if they felt the law permitted wagering on pari-mutuel wagering, they were compelled to propagate rules regarding the conduct and wagering on barrel racing. This is something the department failed to do. The ALJ suggested the department didn't want to issue rules so not to give those opposed to wagering on barrel racing any ammunition so they created their own policy statement; something not allowed by law in this case
So pari-mutuel wagering on barrel racing is history; no later than the current annual license expiring, correct? There is a good chance it is history, but when the real goal is to operate a card room and gain slots, both at risk now, you can bet the death throes will continue for a while yet. Here are the scenarios:
- The DPMW could decide to appeal the ALJ ruling. The case then continues on.
- The DPMW could decide to promulgate the rules the judge claimed they failed to do which by implication suggests the division feels pari-mutuel barrel racing does meet the legislature's intended definition of pari-mutuel quarter horse racing. Then the quarter horse, thoroughbred, and standardbred horsemen would be expected to move on to appeal in civil court.
- The DPMW demurs and accepts the ALJ's ruling. Then Gretna Entertainment may decide to go to court. (Technically, the Florida Quarter Horse Track Association, no relationship to the FQHA could appeal the ALJ's ruling. The FQHTA is a group that Gretna Racing is a member of and intervened in the case. Gretna Racing can not directly challenge the ALJ's ruling).)
- Gretna Entertainment builds their J-track and runs a proper pari-mutuel quarter horse meet.
- Gretna Entertainment goes off into the sunset.
Considering the money involved, this case is not going to go off into the sunset, that quick. There is likely at least one more act to be played out.