Calder Casino and Race Course

Calder Casino and Race Course

Coady Photography

Approval of Florida Dates Deal Seems Imminent

Calder will close its poker room June 30, according to a newspaper report.

A report that Calder Casino & Race Course is preparing to close its poker room could be an indication that Calder and South Florida neighbor Gulfstream Park will soon receive state regulatory approval for their agreement on racing dates.

On June 29 Calder president Maureen Adams told the South Florida Sun Sentinel that the poker room, called Studz Poker Club, will close for good at 10 p.m. EDT June 30. Adams did not provide a reason for the closure, but the newspaper story suggested it is related to the two-track deal.

In Florida, poker rooms operate under a pari-mutuel license rather than a casino license, and that could be an indication of why Calder is closing its poker room.

Since May the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering has been reviewing the tracks' binding agreement under which Gulfstream would lease Calder's racing operation. The deal includes a quick end t0 the disruptive head-to-head weekend racing the two tracks began in July 2013.

During the week that began June 23, there were reports the Florida DPMW and its parent, the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, might not finish the review in time to call off Calder's July 4-6 scheduled racing. But on June 28 Florida Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association president Phil Combest said that based on reports, he was hopeful regulators and the tracks can finalize the agreement the week of June 30.

The two tracks had hoped June 29 would be Calder's last day of racing until early October. As of June 27 the track's racing office was making plans for race cards on the July 4-6 weekend.

The Calder-Gulfstream agreement, which runs through 2020, would have Calder racing in October and November, and Gulfstream racing the remainder of each year. The complex transaction would leave Churchill Downs Inc. as owner of Calder, including racing and the stables that it would lease to Gulfstream and parent company The Stronach Group. CDI would continue to own and operate Calder's casino.