Gambling Laws in Florida

March 25, 2013

In the past two years, the gaming laws in the United States have changed drastically, and at present many US states are working towards legalizing online poker and other forms of online gambling within their premises. While states like Delaware, Nevada, and New Jersey have formulated and passed laws in support of online gambling, the latest bill introduced in the state of Florida might have a derogatory impact on the status of online poker within the state.

The bill introduced in the Florida state legislative house

According to the recent bill passed in the Florida House of representatives, some loopholes in the gaming laws of the state will be rectified. According to this bill, the internet cafes will be monitored closely. According to statistics, a large number of internet cafes have been recently opened in the state of Florida, so the government is going to keep a close watch on all of these cafes and monitor all the activities that they conduct.

Furthermore, according to this bill, electronic devices placed in these cafes will not accept any type of money or account codes from the players, so players won’t be able to receive any special prizes or any kind of extra credits. Keeping in mind the changes suggested in this bill, online gambling and online poker don’t seem to have a bright future in the state of Florida. This is because transferring credits is a major component of online gambling and especially online poker.

The previous laws in the state of Florida

When the previous gaming laws were established in the state of Florida, a lot of internet cafes came up in the region. Most of these internet cafes were aimed towards giving residents the access to the Internet. However, over a period of time these cafes turned into popular gambling outlets. Most of the residents would come to the cafes to enjoy playing regular slot games or video poker. Furthermore, a lot of the cafe owners offered exciting prizes on these games in order to attract the local residents as well.

This system was not considered harmful by the state government until recently when a sensational scandal was exposed in the context of the games played in these internet cafes, and it seemed that it had a connection with a few of the Florida state government officials. Once this scandal was exposed, the state government said that the laws of the state had a few loopholes which gave the cafe owners an opportunity to cheat the government, and thus they decided to pass this bill in order to regulate those loopholes.

The scandal that led to the amendment

A few days back, the Lieutenant Governor of the state of Florida, Jennifer Carroll, was stuck in a controversy where the state government found a big loophole in the state laws. Carroll was involved in a cause, Allied Veterans of the World, which has close to 65 gaming centers in the state of Florida. The primary purpose of these gaming centers was to raise funds for charitable causes; however, the activities of these centers were reviewed by the state government.

The government decided to review these gaming centers because according to reports, the center had only distributed close to $6 million to the veterans. However, the reports of the centers suggested that these centers had earned approximately $260 million through all their charity events. Once the scandal came out in the media, Carroll had to resign from her post. Close to sixty people were arrested in this case. The people who were arrested in this case were charged with the felony of conducting illegal gambling and extortion within the state.

Once this case was highlighted, the lawmakers issued the bill in order to restrict the transactions in internet cafes, as they felt that a lot of the owners earned a significant amount of money by conducting charity events and other online poker tournaments, and none of these earnings were declared to the government in a legal way.

The effects of the proposed changes

Even though these regulations have stopped unauthorized operators from making money through charity events, they may have a derogatory impact on the legalization of online poker within the state of Florida. At present, the law has no mention of online gambling or online poker; however, it prohibits the people from using electronic devices to exchange credits among each other. So an individual can’t use laptops, mobiles, or even a tablet to buy or exchange credits through this law, which is the essence of online gambling. Furthermore, this law also prohibits players from receiving any type of cash rewards for any of their efforts online.

So if the poker enthusiasts in the state of Florida plan on introducing a bill to legalize online poker within the state, they will have to propose a separate section that would deal with this existing law. Experts feel that legalization of online poker will prove to be a hard task in the state, as the poker enthusiasts will have to convince the state authorities on the benefits of online poker and online gambling, and they will also have to propose amendments in this law. Since the state authorities have formulated the law in the present context, when a lot of the other US states are legalizing online poker, they must have given this concept a thought as well. So the chances of Florida residents gaining access to online poker seem very bleak at present.