Welcome to Play Poker Florida. Here you can find information on the legal status of online poker in Florida along with brand reviews, online poker bonuses and resources to help you make informed decisions on where to spend your poker bankroll.
Online poker and its regulation are presently being debated by several states. New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware have all regulated the activity and Florida is among a group of states that’s expected to legalize the activity by 2020.
At Play Poker Florida, our goal is to educate you regarding the issues surrounding online poker regulation and to keep you up-to-date regarding any new developments. In addition, we have provided you with resources and suggestions for making your voices heard in the fight for online poker in Florida.
Want to know which brands may operate in Florida? Check out our reviews of the sites we believe will launch once online poker is legal in Florida. Finally, if you’re looking to play mobile online poker, check out our section reviewing the likely Florida mobile poker apps.
While online poker regulation in Florida is a few years away, it is not too early to start fighting for the issue. Two years ago, there were zero regulated markets in the United States and now there are three thriving markets with more on the horizon. Florida can be that next market.
Continue reading to learn more about the history of online poker regulation in Florida. Make sure to bookmark this site and refer to it often as Florida begins their march to iPoker regulation.
Is Online Poker Legal in Florida in 2015?
The state of Florida was one of the first states to consider the issue of state level online poker regulation. During the 2011 legislative session, Rep. Joseph Abruzzo submitted HB 77, the Internet Poker Consumer Protection and Revenue Generation Act, with the purpose of legalizing iPoker and casino games.
Following the passage of the UIGEA in 2006, it was illegal for banks in the United States to process online gambling transactions. HB 77 would have legalized the game and allowed banks in that state to process gambling transactions. Unfortunately, the bill failed to emerge from committee.
Later in 2011, the U.S. DOJ clarified that the federal Wire Act only applied to sports betting. This caused several states to follow in Florida’s footsteps and examine online poker regulation. However, 2011 would be the last time that Florida would examine the issue.
A bill was rumored for 2012 but concerns over internet cafe’s that had been popping up all over the United States forced the issue to the back burner. Two years later, Governor Rick Scott dealt a virtual death blow to any upcoming online poker regulation by stating that he was against online gambling. Since that announcement, there’s been zero discussion by lawmakers concerning online poker regulation or at least the discussion has failed to become public.
Gov. Scott just began his second term as Governor in 2015. Due to this anti-iGaming stance, we feel that it is unlikely that a bill will even be discussed during 2016. The exception will be Daily Fantasy Sports. There is a bill currently being considered for submission that would regulate the activity, but it is also unlikely to pass due to Gov. Scott’s stance on online gambling.
Gov Scott will leave office in early 2019 due to term limits and it is our hope that his successor has a more liberal view regarding online gambling. With this in mind, don’t expect any significant legislation in Florida surrounding online poker until 2019 or 2020.
Florida Online Poker Predictions
The state of poker in Florida is a simple one. Live poker is legal in casinos and card rooms and home games are permitted provided that the host does not benefit from the game outside of winnings. Also, home game pots are not supposed to exceed $10 but it is a statute that is rarely enforced.
In terms of online poker, the state still falls under the UIGEA, which means that it is illegal for banks to process online gambling payments. Online poker classifies as gambling. Florida does not have any laws on their books prosecuting citizens that play online poker but most major sites choose to stay out of Florida.
Any site that accepts players from Florida is unregulated and typically uses payment processors that either bypass U.S. banks or they use underhanded means in order to get accounts funded. This is one reason why regulation is important. Regulation provides a safe environment that doesn’t force banks to bypass U.S. laws and provides protections for player accounts.
Over the next couple of years, the online poker landscape will change dramatically in the United States. We expect Pennsylvania and California to join the regulated market and possibly a couple other smaller states.
PokerStars will begin operations in New Jersey by mid-2016 and we expect them to be in at least three states by the time Florida regulates iPoker. In addition, we expect the interstate online poker network to expand once PA and CA pass iPoker bills. We could see as many as five states in the network before 2020.
As for Florida, we expect lawmakers to keep an eye on developments in states such as PA, CA, NJ and New York to see how they progress and what impact online poker has on tax revenue. If iGaming proves to be the boon in larger states as expected, we could see Florida push the envelope in 2019 to start the process of regulation.
On the other hand, if iGaming revenue flounders, this may convince lawmakers to sit back and wait longer. Our person belief is that PA, CA and NY will experience larger than anticipated returns for iGaming, which should prompt Florida to take action.