At the moment, much of the poker world is salivating over the realistic prospect of California legalizing and regulating online poker. The reason why is simple: California boasts a population of 38 million people and would offer a huge player pool. But there’s another big state that’s quietly considering internet poker too. Florida, which is home to 19.3 million residents, has now entered some discussions about online gaming.
The Florida Senate Gaming Committee recently held a meeting where they laid the foundation for a gaming reform bill that’s expected to be introduced some time in 2014. This legislation seeks to change Florida’s gaming industry in a variety of ways, such as allowing resort-style casinos and creating a commission that would preside over all forms of gaming in the state, other than the lottery.
Included during the talks about the new gaming bill was online poker. Several of the senators expressed their opinion that, unlike many forms of internet gaming, online poker actually involves skill. However, there were no concrete declarations that internet poker would be included on the bill. The draft is expected to be finished by late February, so the poker world will have a chance to see if online gaming makes the bill very soon.
Even if internet poker is included, there are still some challenges ahead, namely if the bill will pass. With this being an election year, Florida politicians may vote down the gaming legislation and discuss it more in 2015. This seems like a very possible scenario when you consider that existing groups like the parimutuels and Seminoles have been staunchly opposed to changing the current gaming structure.
Still, we can dream about what adding Florida to the list of existing US states offering online poker would mean. Assuming they legalized the game in 2015 and formed an interstate pact with states like New Jersey and Nevada, that would be a massive infusion of players as well as much bigger cash games and tournaments. Unfortunately, A LOT still has to happen before any of this becomes reality.