Tuesday February 18 ,2014 : ONLINE POKER IN FLORIDA?
Don't get your hopes up…it's a suggestion that might not be developed.
The US state of Florida's current review of gambling laws may provide a tenuous foothold for the legalization of online poker if some lawmakers have their way.
Last week the Florida Senate Gaming Committee discussed the draft of an upcoming gaming reform bill scheduled for introduction during the 2014 legislative session. The draft includes some of the recommendations of a $400,000 independent consultant's study of the Florida gambling industry as a whole.
The plan is to develop consensus on a bill that will comprehensively bring Florida gambling law up to date, operating under a gaming commission that will have authority over all gambling except the state lottery.
There is a recommendation that the Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering, which currently regulates land poker rooms, horse and dog racing, and slot machine facilities should fall under the new gaming commission, and that existing statutes be updated to achieve this and include new gaming activities.
That "new gaming activities" phrase gave some lawmakers an opportunity to suggest the inclusion in the reform bill of provisions for legalised, taxed and regulated intrastate online poker, following the example of successful legalization in Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey recently.
Several senators discussed the inclusion of online poker in the draft bill, noting that it was a game predominantly of skill that should fall outside the definition of illegal gambling.
However, observers have noted that there is only a small chance of the genre being included in the bill, which already faces opposition to any expansion of gambling activity and is being debated in an election year, where politicians tend to be wary of offending action groups and public opinion.
In this sort of climate the suggestion has been made that a compromise be reached with opposing groups by first making the expansion of gambling the subject of a public referendum to access the opinions of the residents of Florida.
The Senate Gaming Committee plan is to have the draft finalised by next week.