On April 17th, 2009, with just weeks remaining in Florida's legislative session, the Florida Senate has been lobbying hard to expand gambling laws in an effort to produce additional income for the state.
With a $3 billion budget deficit in the state, some legislators believe that a change on Florida's existing gaming laws could produce new revenue that could be utilized for education. Although estimates differ because it is impossible to determine just how popular gambling would become in Florida if the state changes its gaming laws. State economists believe a new gaming bill proposed in the Senate could produce from $500 million to $1 billion in additional revenue.
In 2007, Florida's Indian casino facilities produced $1.6 billion in revenue. The game of poker could see a major change if these talks result in new gaming laws. Currently, the maximum buy-in cost for all no-limit holdem cash games in the state is $100 and the maximum wager in any poker limit game is restricted to $5.
Poker tournament buy-ins is $100 but not much beyond that amount. The Senate proposal would take off these caps to permit high-stakes poker action. Poker is just one small portion of the Senate's new gaming plan. They also want to permit the Seminole tribe to offer games like craps and roulette to produce additional funding.
The Seminole tribe is the biggest Florida tribe permitted to conduct gaming in the state. But the Florida does not want any part of the Senate's gaming proposal. While both chambers in Florida are led by Republicans, the House has a different gaming plan. Democratic State Senator Steve Geller said that there is no chance that the Senate gaming plan will pass at the House.
Although the House has been hesitant to approve any form of expanded gaming, officials have produced its own proposal which would also represent a big change in Florida's poker laws, although in a more conservative scope. In the House gaming proposal, the maximum buy-in cost from $100 to $1,000 and the maximum limit wager would be improved from $5 to $50.
The poker differences in the two version of the gaming proposal, while not important, are not the major blocks when it comes to making a compromise on gambling legislation. At the center of the issue is Florida's 2007 gaming compact with the Seminole tribe, which gave the Indian tribe the power to offer card games like blackjack and baccarat.
While the Senate's gaming proposal wants to expand gambling in Seminole gaming facilities for a price-an additional $400 million a year-the House gaming proposal looks to scale down the tax rates for horse racing tracks and casino facilities while expanding the house of operation of poker rooms from twelve hours to twenty-four hours a day.
The House gaming plan would raise less for education-between $140 million and $260 million - compared with the Senate gaming proposal which also features gaming expansion for horse racing tracks. This would not be the first that poker rules were modified in the state of Florida. The current $100 maximum buy-in cost for no-limit poker games was approved in 2007.
May 04, 2009