Florida Online Poker Law
Florida has exploded as a poker state in recent years, thanks to its officials agreeing to allow its card rooms to spread no-limit games. It was a long road to full no-limit games; Florida poker restrictions used to be so strict that at one time poker pots were limited to no more than $10. (You read that right: pots were limited to $10 before hands were turned up and played out.)
With enough players to support more than 20 poker rooms, Florida’s online poker market is one of the great untapped markets in the world. Its residents want access to online poker rooms, but the states elected officials don’t seem to be listening.
There are no bills proposed or even being publicly discussed by elected officials that focus on online poker or gaming. Online poker is simply not on the radar. Online poker players in Florida should thank their lucky stars they have so many places to play live poker.
In fact, Florida has gone the opposite way. Elected officials identified the proliferation of Internet cafes, where something like an electric sweepstakes lottery would take place, as a problem. Officials voted to close the loophole that allowed the cafes, making it illegal for wagered money be transferred between machines. This is something that will have to be addressed if online poker does move forward in Florida.
This also had the unintentional effect of forcing the subscription-based poker site ClubWPT to leave Florida. To be sure, Florida has a long way to go catching up in the world of online gaming.
If and when online poker moves forward in Florida, it will be powered by the several Indian Nations that operate brick-and-mortar casinos there. The Seminole Nation, which operates six casinos and card rooms in Florida, looks to be a big player.
It may come down to a federal judge’s ruling that tribal casinos are exempt from the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006, or a state bill acquiescing to the major lobbying that will surely come from the state’s casinos. Another potential “in” for the online gaming industry is if the company running the state’s lottery tries to get in the game. Like other states with so many factions interested in the millions of dollars that will come from online poker, it’s hard to say just how it will happen.
Will Online Poker Come to Florida?
Yes, but it’s going to be a while. The state is being led by a conservative, image-conscious governor with a recent history of stopping gambling expansion in his state, so it’s going to take some significant work by the state’s Tribal Nations and racinos. It will be a miracle if online poker is available to Florida residents by 2016.
How Many People Would Play Online Poker in Florida?
The home to more than 11 million people over the age of 21, that means an estimated potential 1.1 million online poker players live in Florida. It’s the fourth-largest poker market in the United States, falling just behind New York. This makes Florida’s poker market a huge “get” for those who make online poker work there. Its player pool will be large enough to support a healthy online poker community, but the residents of whichever state manages to share its players will ultimately win. But, again, that’s thinking far into the future.
One day, Florida ... one day.