Florida Legislators Introduce Online Gambling Bill
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.