Legalizing Online Poker Could Mean Big Bucks For the Sunshine State

By: Troy Kinsey Email
By: Troy Kinsey Email

Tallahassee, FL - Poker is one big moneymaker for casinos.

Now, Tallahassee wants a cut of the action.

Under a new bill, Internet poker would be legalized in return for tens of millions of dollars in taxes from online card rooms.

“If we choose to go in any direction, like we did with the Seminole pact and some of the pari-mutuel bills from the last couple years, is, they would have to be actual deliverables,” said Sen. Mike Haridopolos, the Senate president. “Not hope, you know. Hope was two years ago. This is practical now.”

For a state that's anything but flush with cash, a potential new revenue stream could be only a few royal flushes away.

But, critics said if it's not done right, the joke could be on us.

Under the bill, the state would only license a few online card rooms, which would be accessible only through the websites of Florida’s 23 pari-mutuels -- primarily dog and horse tracks.

They’d act as a middleman, charging a fee for collecting the taxes.

Nick Iarossi's a lobbyist for the online cardroom betfair.com.

He said the only fair way of doing online poker is to let everyone take part.

“Allow the pari-mutuels to do it also, but also open it up to those with a lot of expertise around the world providing an Internet poker product that can compete with those offshore illegal websites to convince those players to leave those sites and come on to a Florida intrastate system,” Iarossi said.

But, for the politically powerful pari-mutuels, that would be a bad bet.

They don't want a wave of online poker threatening their in-house games.

In the end, like the game itself, the battle over legalization could hinge on the winner of a high-stakes hand in the capitol's halls of power.

Online poker supporters said legalizing it in Florida could make as much as $56 million for the cash-strapped state.


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  • by Summer Location: London on Feb 13, 2011 at 08:48 PM
    just take a look at the e gaming revenues for european countries at www.playtexasholdem.com . It's staggering and the results speak for themselves. prohibion just cereates an less regulated industry with zero social benefits.
  • by Freedom Location: Florida on Feb 2, 2011 at 04:06 PM
    I think people should have the right to gamble if they wish. I am not a gambler but im all for anyone that wants to. This country is getting rediculous with all the rules and regulations that are put on its citizens. I dont think gamblers are as much a problem as the people who want to ban it. I dont drink, smoke, gamble or own a handgun but I support anyone that wants to.
  • by revron jj Location: ga on Feb 2, 2011 at 03:48 PM
    legalizeing drugs will make the state money tooo. you can already gamble online tax free.
  • by Anonymous on Feb 2, 2011 at 11:58 AM
    allowing slots in the already existing and struggling pari-mutual facilities will increase the states revenue. Do this instead of driving them further into the ground...Why is it the state wants to allow or increase gambling for everyone EXCEPT the facilities that have been in business for decades, that have been employing people for decades and have been paying taxes for decades?
  • by Anonymous on Feb 2, 2011 at 09:42 AM
    To Thomas: You mention that poker is psychological (meaning mental) but then talk about physical tells! That's baffling. But poker is more than watching for some old geezers lip twitch, but it's more about math and statistics. Yes, you can make money playing online poker (speaking from experience). It's people like you that I can't wait to play online once this bill passes (not you specifically of course, since you enjoy the face-to-face interaction). The fishing will be nice and the state can make some tax revenue at the same time! Also, the house takes a standard % rake of every pot that is won, online or brick and mortar rooms. So, obviously some players will win more pots than others and hence, be winning players. The losers are all the other gamblers that play games of chance where the house has the odds such as craps and roulette.
  • by Anonymous on Feb 2, 2011 at 08:58 AM
    Many poker players play the game for the game, not because they are gambling. So this is not really a tax on the poor like the lottery is. Also if you actually know how to play, you can consistently win more than you lose. There is a certain amount of luck, but there is a lot of knowing how to play.
  • by Anonymous on Feb 2, 2011 at 08:55 AM
    Poker does have a strategy besides the psychological side. You have to know the card, and the odds, and if you play those odds you will win according the odds. If you know what the odds are, you will know when to hold them, and when to fold them. The house never wins poker, because they aren't actually playing, they take a rake (percentage) out of every hand, so it doesn't matter to them who wins.
  • by Anonymous on Feb 2, 2011 at 07:38 AM
    why dont we just open casinos for more revenue.online gambling is rigged and a rip off.at least at the casinos is regulated thru the gaming commision.
  • by anonymous Location: hamilton co. on Feb 2, 2011 at 07:01 AM
    Wasn't the lottery suppose to do wonders for our schools...and they just let teachers go last year and schools are as bad as they've ever been. Same song different dance!
  • by s Location: tally on Feb 2, 2011 at 06:27 AM
    Get that ..... those who want to play poker will play anyway .... lets collect the fees. Its not pot, poker is legal anyway.
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