No Online Casinos, But Online Poker Could Be Coming To Florida
Florida The state of Florida appears poised to become the next state to regulate online poker. With New Jersey lawmakers already legalizing full online casino gambling, Florida legislators are discussing taking the first step towards that goal.
This week, legislators amped up efforts to regulate online poker. The law being proposed would allow pari-mutuel facilities in the state to offer online poker to its customers through a third-party hub. If that occurs, the pari-mutuels would be on better financial footing to compete with Indian casinos in the state.
Pari-mutuel owners have been lobbying lawmakers to even the playing field between themselves and tribal casinos. The Seminole Tribe runs the Hard Rock Casino in Hollywood and another major facility on Tampa. In order to compete with the Seminoles, the pari-mutuels have already been given some perks this past year.
Legislators agreed to lower the tax rate on pari-mutuel gambling, and also gave the facilities the right to operate their poker room for longer hours. Those changes were aimed at helping the pari-mutuels at a time when the Seminoles were winning the right to offer blackjack at their casinos.
If lawmakers and Governor Rick Scott approve the online poker legislation being crafted, the Seminoles would, in essence, win the right to offer Internet poker as well. The Seminoles are allowed to offer any type of casino gambling that is legal in the state.
Internet gambling has become a hot topic all across the US, even at the federal level. Shortly before the new year, Senator Harry Reid attempted to pass online poker legislation, but his effort was denied by Conservative lawmakers.
That denial may have been the last straw for states who are searching for ways to increase tax revenue for unbalanced budgets. California and Florida are both close to joining New Jersey as states with Internet gaming regulations.
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