After months of debate, the legislature for the state of Florida has approved the further expansion of poker in the state, including the removal of a maximum buy-in for no-limit poker and the elimination of a maximum bet per round in limit games.
The approval of Bill SB788 was enabled by a consensus achieved between the House and the Senate in the sunshine state which saw 31 for and 9 against in the Senate, and 82 for and 35 against in the House.
The dispensation will have an initial 15 year duration, subject to the approval of the Seminole tribal nation, and will generate at least $150 million in annual payments from the Seminoles to the state. Governor Charlie Crist has until August 31st to negotiate a compact with the Seminoles, and then the Florida Legislature must approve the compact for the bill to go into effect.
The newly approved legalization includes provisions that will expand poker offerings in the state, and is intended to replace a compact that Crist and the Seminole nation negotiated in 2007, allowing slot machines and card games – including poker – at seven Florida Seminole casinos. In 2008, the Florida Supreme Court threw the compact out, ruling that Crist overstepped his authority by not seeking the state legislature's approval before signing the agreement.
The refreshed compact allows land casinos and cardrooms located at horse tracks, dog tracks, and jai alai frontons in Florida to offer the expanded no-limit poker, which removes the $100 maximum buy-in and the $5 maximum bet per betting round in limit games. Poker tournament buy-ins limits will also be removed, as a $1 000 limit had been imposed from previous legalization. The latter will make Florida an attractive possibility for the big-money poker tournaments so popular in the industry these days.
Cardrooms will be permitted to operate 18 hours a day Mondays through Fridays, and 24 hours on the weekends. The gambling age in Seminole casinos is increased from 18 to 21, matching the minimum age found elsewhere.
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