A legislation that would have allowed intrastate online poker to be legal to Florida residents has died before making it out of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee.
The bill, known as Senate Bill 812, was supported by Republican State Senator Miguel Diaz de la Portilla. It would have allowed poker players in Florida to play against other Florida residents on an internet system operated by the state.
The bill had some big opponents, though, including the Florida Sheriff’s Association and the Poker Players Alliance (PPA). The Poker Players Alliance, a group that was formed “to speak with one voice to promote poker, and to protect the players’ rights” was afraid the bill would monopolize online poker in Florida because it limited their choices and player pool. In an email sent out by Martin Shapiro, Florida’s State Director of the PPA, the PPA stated:
“The proposal would create a state-sponsored monopoly which would be a huge step backwards for online poker players in Florida. This proposed legislation, should it pass, would strictly curtail Floridians ability to play online by limiting who you play with to only Florida residents. Ultimately this means fewer players, fewer games, fewer stakes/limits and less opportunity for you to play poker how you want, when you want.”
Voting resulted in a 2-2 tie, which killed the bill. The online poker bill would have seen all revenue from Florida online poker taxed at a rate of ten percent. It was estimated that the tax money could have brought in as much as $10.5 million a year for the state.