Florida Legislators Introduce Online Gambling Bill

Florida Legislators Introduce Online Gambling Bill

Mar 6, 2011

Two bills are now being proposed in Florida that would bring online gambling to the Sunshine State. The bills, if passed, would allow pari-mutuels in the state – including horse and dog tracks, along with jai alai frontons – to operating online gambling sites designed for Florida residents.

The legalization and regulation of online gambling could potentially be very lucrative for the state of Florida. According to a report by a Senate committee released last month, Florida could expect to rake in up to $37 million per year once poker sites had been established for three years. According to a report in The New-Press, 900,000 Floridians currently play online poker, and approximately a third of them play for real money.

Both bills have at least some support from both major parties. The main sponsors of the bill are a Republican – Senator Miguel Diaz de la Portilla of Miami – and a Democrat, State Representative Joseph Abruzzo of Wellington. The key question seems to be how many Republicans in total would be willing to support the measure, as Republicans have a clear majority in both houses.

I think those who are dead set against it outnumber those who are dead set for it,” said Republican State Representative Matt Caldwell. “However, I think the majority are generally ambivalent like me.”

Caldwell also added that the “key will be showing clear sources of revenue” from the bill.

The landscape of various state-level regulatory schemes for online gambling has changed rapidly in recent weeks. While New Jersey’s legislature passed a bill that would have legalized online gambling in the state, it was vetoed by Governor Chris Christie. In Iowa, a similar bill has recently made it through the committee stage in the State Senate, but has yet to see a full vote on the Senate floor. There has also been possible movement on a federal level online gambling bill, which is expected to be introduced sometime in April.

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