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Judge dismisses challenge to gambling facility near St. Augustine

A gavel in a courtroom.
A gavel in a courtroom. (Pexels)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – An administrative law judge has dismissed a challenge to state approval of a plan for a pari-mutuel facility near St. Augustine.

Judge Suzanne Van Wyk on Friday issued an 11-page order dismissing arguments by Daytona Beach Kennel Club Inc., which has fought a decision by the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation to allow the relocation of a long-existing gambling permit to the site of the planned facility in St. Johns County.

Bayard Raceways Inc. notified the department in July that it planned to relocate the permit to open a facility at an eight-acre site along Interstate 95 southwest of St. Augustine. The permit was used in the past at a dog track in northern St. Johns County, though it had been more recently used through an arrangement with a track in neighboring Clay County.

Louis Trombetta, director of the state department’s Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering, signed off on the relocation Sept. 11. Daytona Beach Kennel Club Inc. contended in the challenge filed last month at the state Division of Administrative Hearings that regulators did not properly analyze the relocation plan under administrative law. The challenge pointed, in part, to the fact that the new facility would be within 50 miles of the Volusia County gambling operation, which goes by the name Daytona Beach Racing and Card Club.

Van Wyk rejected the Daytona Beach’s facility’s arguments that approval of the plan amounted to an improper “unpromulgated rule.” She wrote in a footnote, however, that the Daytona Beach facility also has filed a challenge under a different part of administrative law. She said that challenge has been scheduled for an informal hearing.