Since late 2011, several states have examined the issue of regulating online poker and general iGaming. Presently, only three states have regulated iPoker but many other are expected to come online in the next few years.
One of those states is Florida. The state considered legalizing online poker and casino games back in 2011, but the bill failed to gain traction. In 2014, Governor Rick Scott took a hard line stance to online gambling and revealed he would not support it. This stance is similar to the one held by billionaire Sheldon Adelson.
Gov. Scott began his second, and final, term as governor in 2015. This means that it will be early 2019 before online poker has an ally in the Governor’s mansion. This is one reason why some analysts believe that Florida will not regulate online poker anytime before 2020.
While that time-frame seem a long way off, realize that just four years ago that online poker was unregulated in all 50 states and that three of the industry’s premier sites were under indictment by the U.S. Department of Justice. Things can change in a short time and that is what we believe will happen in Florida.
Once online poker is finally regulated in Florida, there will be a flood of applications for operator’s licenses and significant vendor licenses from companies around the world. While it is too early to know exactly which companies will operate in Florida, we can look at other states and take some educated guesses as to who will apply and who will setup shop in Florida.
Below are brief introductions to sites that we believe are virtual locks to operate in Florida. We have also included links to our comprehensive reviews for each site to give you an idea of what to expect once they finally launch.
WSOP.com is the #1 online poker site in the United States thanks to their connection to the World Series of Poker. While Caesars doesn’t operate a casino in Florida, there’s nothing stopping Caesars Interactive Entertainment from partnering with a Florida casino or card room to operate WSOP Florida.
WSOP.com has been successful in other states due to robust spread of cash games and the best online poker tournament guarantees in the regulated market. They are also the only place where you can play online for a seat into WSOP Circuit Events and the World Series of Poker Main Event.
888 Poker Florida
888 Holdings is the only company to operate in all three regulated states and is expected to be one of the first companies to apply for a license once Florida regulates online poker. The company also provides the backend software for WSOP.com.
While CIE will setup their own contract for WSOP.com, 888 Holdings will likely partner with another casino to operate 888 Poker Florida or their All-American Poker Network. This flexibility gives them the opportunity to work with any sized client.
888 Poker Florida will offer a solid online poker experience and some of the largest daily guarantees for online poker tournaments.
PokerStars was recently granted a license to operate in the state of New Jersey, meaning that PokerStars is coming back to America. Now that a precedent has been set for the site, it should make it easier for them to expand into other states, including Florida.
If lawmakers decide to include a bad actor clause in legislation, it will be difficult for the site to expand into Florida. However, we don’t expect Florida lawmakers to include a bad actor clause, allowing PokerStars the opportunity to operate once online poker is regulated. PokerStars Florida will likely start at the top online poker site in the state thanks to their robust online poker variant offerings and their amazing spread of online poker tournaments including their popular Spin & Go events.