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Florida and Online Poker—the Lesser of Two Evils

8 March 2011 by admin

Enough with New Jersey! Between Governor Chris Christie’s conditional veto and Senator Ray Lesniak’s not seeing that the Atlantic City state monopoly needs to remain intact, that state will be spinning its online gambling wheels for awhile. And while we here at OCS really do wish Christie, Lesniak and all the other New Jersey legislators the best of luck with their online gambling tug of war, it is time to move onward.

Now that it looks like New Jersey will not be the first state to legalize online gambling, who might be next. Perhaps California who has been at it for awhile with potential bills and debates with their Sovereign Nations? Or perhaps Iowa who has made a sudden appearance on the online gambling scene?

Not quite. The next in line appears to be Florida. Everybody wave to the Sunshine State. Hello, Sunshine State.

I say that Florida may well be next in line to be the first state to pass an intrastate online gambling bill because of the speculation on the part of the news reported in that state; an intern at the Daytona Beach News Journal, the newspaper of the city with the world’s most famous beach, has said that a bill to legalize online gambling in some form as soon as July 1st of this year. I say in some form because at this point in time Florida legislatures are looking at only legalizing online poker as opposed to online gambling as a whole.

Despite the Republican-led government in Florida right now, there is a push to legalize online poker. The cause for that is not surprising though. There is a $4 billion hole in the state’s budget that badly needs to be filled. And while Republicans as a whole do not like online gambling, they dislike a lack of money even more. I suppose this is Florida Republicans’ choice of the lesser of two evils for them.

The bill for online poker is coming from Democratic state Representative Joseph Abruzzo. He is of the mindset that “We want to legalize it, regulate it and bring the revenue to Florida. To me it is common sense to protect our players.”

The bill would allow three online gambling operators to offer online gambling portals to the twenty three pari-mutuels in Florida, focusing on the dog tracks, horse tracks and jai-alai places. Some pari-mutuels are excited about the bill and are on board with it, while other pari-mutuels are not so enthused by the bill and online poker in the state.

Daniel Francati, manager of the Daytona Beach Kennel Club and Poker Room, said, “ I think it will help take internet players and try to convert them into brick and mortar players. You always have a question when people are playing online for money. How do you know they are paying if it is not regulated?” But on the other side of the bill is Jamie Hinks of the Calvin Ayre website. While Hinks does not think the bill will bring people physically to any land locations, he does think that with New Jersey stumbling out of ht online gambling race that Florida is likely to be the first state to legalize some form of online gambling.

While Abruzzo’s bill would not legalize all forms of online gambling, online poker would be a start. And if the bill passes it would go a long way in generating the much needed revenue to fill the $4 billion hole in the budget. New Jersey may want to be the first to regulate online gambling, but Florida may steal its thunder. The next session of Florida’s State Congress begins today and the bill is slotted to be heard in this session. We will soon hear what the Florida State Congress’ take is on legalizing and regulating a form of online gambling is.

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