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Florida Lawmakers Propose Bill to Regulate Online Poker

By Ian Hiaring, Rakeback.com Poker News Staff Writer

Florida PokerWith New Jersey and California already taking steps to offer regulated online gaming, Florida is looking to propose a similar bill that would offer immediate help with its budget woes.

With the legality of internet poker currently in a state of limbo, Florida joins New Jersey and California as states looking to get their hands on the millions of dollars in revenue that online poker could generate. The proposed bill would allow racetracks to operate online poker rooms legally, giving the State of Florida a cut of the action.

Earlier this year, Florida Governor Rich Scott explored the possibility of building casinos in the state when he met with parties from Las Vegas about charging license fees to build in Florida. Representative Joseph Abruzzo, who proposed the online poker bill, is looking for a quicker infusion of revenue into the state’s budget though.  His proposed bill could take effect as soon as July 1st.

According to a report presented by a Senate Committee on Regulated Industries, online poker has the possibility of generating up to $56 million for Florida by 2014.

Of course, there are groups that have issues with this proposal.  John Pappas, executive director of the Poker Players Alliance is pushing toward a national legalization and regulation solution.

“Internet poker is best for the consumer when you can have a critical mass of players from all jurisdictions and all time zones meeting on a site and playing,” said Pappas.

But despite recent efforts by U.S. Representative Barney Frank and U.S. Senator Harry Reid, the legalization and regulation of online poker from a national level is moving at a snail’s pace, and Florida is looking to increase its own revenue in the meantime.

Existing online poker companies aren’t thrilled with Florida’s proposed bill either. Nick Iarossi, a lobbyist for BetFair is pushing for existing online poker companies to be included in the proposal.
“This bill is really kind of a carve-out for the pari-mutuel industry,” said Iarossi.

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