Judge rules against barrel racing

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June barrel races to continue at Creek Entertainment, city official says no change in activities at gaming facility is expected

By Alice Du Pont

Administrative Law Judge John G. Van Landingham issued an 85-page opinion stating the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering was incorrect in granting a pari-mutuel barrel-racing permit to Creek Entertainment in Gretna.
What that will mean to Creek Entertainment, which owns and operates a card room and simulcast betting venue at it Gretna facility, is still uncertain because the parent company plans to appeal the ruling, according to Antonio Jefferson, Gretna city manager.

In any event, two barrel-racing dates, June 8 and June 29, will continue as scheduled. Jefferson said the license was issued by the state, and they will be allowed to finish the barrel-racing season.

“Since 2011, the City of Gretna and Creek Entertainment Gretna has undertaken in innovative and successful partnership that has resulted in additional business, revenue and the introduction of pari-mutuel barrel racing in our community. The City of Gretna has been very pleased with our corporate partner. Despite reports that the administrative law judge’s recent ruling threatens pari-mutuel barrel racing at Creek Entertainment Gretna, we don’t anticipate any change in the activities currently being conducted at the facility,” Jefferson wrote in a press release dated May 13.

He said city officials have been in contact with CEG and their attorneys regarding the ruling, who have informed them they plan to appeal the “arbitrariness” of the ruling.

“Challenges to Gretna’s licenses have repeatedly been found without merit by the courts and we will all remain confident that these challenges will continue to be defeated. The pari-mutuel activities at Creek Entertainment Gretna will continue and our community will continue to grow and benefit as a result of this partnership,” Jefferson wrote.
John Sowinski, president of No Casinos, an Orlando-based organization that opposes casino gambling said “the Gretna permit was a sham from the beginning. (It) was nothing more than a gambling anchor to which the owners hoped to also moor poker rooms and slot machines. The Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering should accept the judge’s decision and cancel pari-mutuel barrel racing permits and licenses immediately.”