Published On: Wed, Jun 19th, 2019

Will Online Poker Be Coming to Florida?

Over the course of the past few years, many states have regulated online poker, with many more en-route to legalizing online casino games. With a huge online poker market, Florida is one state that would certainly benefit from the regulation of online poker. There is still a long way to go before lawmakers in the state regulate this market, but players and gaming experts remain hopeful that it will become a reality within the next few years. 

 

Current State of Poker in Florida 

At the moment, there are 27 live poker rooms across Florida. They are heavily patronized by players across the state, and there is certainly a large poker community that would embrace online poker. However, lawmakers across the state have yet to make any moves towards a regulated online poker market. 

Players come from all across America to play in tournaments in Florida. In fact, the Seminole Casino Coconut Creek is on the World Series of Poker circuit. The main event during the 2018-2019 series drew over 800 players and had a huge $1.2 million guarantee.  

So, once online poker becomes legalized in Florida, there will definitely be enough demand to meet the supply. There are thousands of dedicated poker players across the state, and they would be thrilled to be offered the opportunity to play poker from their computers and mobile devices. 

 

Major Developments in Florida’s Gambling Laws 

Poker laws in Florida haven’t seen much revision since gambling was legalized in the 1930s. Things only really changed in 2010, when no-limit poker was introduced. Before this, players were only permitted to buy-in to cash games for $100 or less. Since then, nothing much has changed, although there have been some attempts to legalized online poker in the state. 

Every attempt to legalize online poker in Florida has been shot down thus far. Even though there has been some interest from lawmakers in the state, it hasn’t been enough to move forward in turning the possibility of regulated online gambling into a reality. 

The biggest recent development in Florida’s gambling laws came in 2018, when Amendment 3 was passed. Entitled Voter Control of Gambling in Florida, the amendment has given state voters the right to approve any new casino gambling venues in the state. The term “casino gambling” is quite broad, so it could be extended to online poker and online casino games in the future.  

 

What Would a Legalized Online Poker Market Look Like in Florida?

If online poker is legalized in Florida, it would be similar to the regulated markets in New Jersey, Delaware, Nevada and Pennsylvania. In these states, only brick-and-mortar venues that currently have casino licenses can operate online casinos, and they have partnered with online poker operators like 888 and PokerStars to power their digital games. 

This is hugely beneficial to players, as they get to play with a reputable local brand as well as with an experienced online gaming operator. In Florida, it’s likely that venues like Derby Lane Poker Room, Casino Fort Piece and Oxford Downs would obtain online licenses and then team up with companies like PartyPoker and William Hill provide them with an excellent online gaming experience. 

In states where online poker is regulated, only players who are located within the state can gamble online. Geo-location technology is used to ensure that players are not trying to play poker online from outside of state lines. There are also a number of documents that players must submit to prove that they are the legal gambling age in their state. 

You may find a limited selection of games at regulated online poker sites. For example, Seven Card Stud, Texas Hold’em and Omaha are the only poker games available to players online in New Jersey. So, it’s unlikely that you would find niche games like RAZZ and Chinese Poker at online poker sites when Florida legalizes the activity. 

Another interesting thing about legalized online poker in the United States is that some states are part of the Interstate Online Poker Pact. This allows players to engage in cash games and tournaments with those located in other states. So, if Florida were to join in, you would be able to compete with players in Delaware, New Jersey, Nevada and Pennsylvania. This makes for a much larger player pool, more excitement, and larger guarantees. 

 

In the Meantime…

Online poker is not yet regulated in Florida, so online operators can’t obtain licenses to specifically operate in the state. However, there are still some players in unregulated states that manage to access offshore online poker sites. 

What this means is that they are able to play poker online with players from around the world. While these sites are not licensed in Florida, they are licensed in jurisdictions like Curacao and Kahnawake which look after players and ensure that operators adhere to strict measures that keep you safe while gambling online. 

Still, it’s important to remember that there are laws in place for states where playing poker online is illegal. For example, Section 849.08 of the Florida Statues says that unregulated gambling in the state is considered a second decree misdemeanor, which includes playing games on unregulated devices. So, you should exercise caution if you to decide to play poker online in Florida before the state regulates the activity. 

While online poker regulation is not on the cards just yet, we’re still holding out hope that it will happen sometime soon. Plenty of states have been working towards online gambling legislation and, as more states legalize these games, it’s likely that Florida will jump on the bandwagon, too.

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