Florida Considers Regulated Online Poker BillFebruary 18, 2014 2:08 pm
Last year, Florida commissioned Spectrum Gaming to produce a report on the state’s gambling industry which the legislature is now expected to use when amending its current gaming laws through a comprehensive bill. A draft of the gaming reform bill was subsequently discussed on February 10th, at the Florida Senate Gaming Committee and the bill is expected to be introduced during a legislative session later this year.
As well as proposing an expansion of Florida’s casinos industry, the bill also suggests creating a gaming commission to oversee gambling in the state, as well as the possible introduction of regulated online poker.
Last year, Florida received $385 million in gambling revenues, $233 million of which came from seven Seminole casinos, and a further $152 million from seven South Florida racinos. Traditionally, the Seminole tribal casinos have offered slots, poker and table games, while the Racinos have focused on horse/dog racing, slot machines and poker. Expanded gambling in Florida, however, could see the creation of resort-style casinos offering everything, including roulette and craps, under one roof.
The Florida Senate Gaming Committee is expected to consider the proposals in the first week of March, and a vote on the rewritten state’s gaming rules to follow thereafter. Detailing further some of the proposed alterations, miami.cbslocal.com stated the following:
“The changes could cover a wide range of issues from the “decoupling” of racing from pari-mutuel permits that allow for slot machines and card rooms, the possible authorization of one “destination resort” casino permit in Broward County and another in Miami-Dade County, and alterations to a controversial 2013 law intended to put Internet cafes out of business.”
However, nothing is expected to come easy, especially as the existing gambling interests of the parimutuels and Seminoles, line-up against potential newcomers, such as Las Vegas Sands Corp and Genting, as well as anti-gambling proponents. Furthermore, with the 2014 Florida gubernatorial election taking place on November 4th, it is more likely that any changes, if they do happen, will take place in 2015.