Florida wants to separate Dogs and Poker Rooms

While Florida may not be anywhere close to legalizing online poker, politicians from the Sunshine State do at least have the game on their minds. Specifically, the Florida House Regulatory Affairs Committee recently approved a gambling package that would allow poker rooms to be separate from dog racing.

Currently, poker rooms must be part of a dog track that holds an active race card. But as the Panama City News Herald reports, the Florida House’s proposed measure (HB 1223) offers dog tracks the right to do away with racing and keep their poker rooms.

This isn’t exactly the big news that would bring legal online poker to Florida, a very large state with almost 20 million residents. However, it would be interesting to see if standalone poker rooms fare better than they do when linked to a dog track. We shall see if the legislation garners enough votes in both the state’s House and Senate. Assuming HB 1223 does pass, here are some other main points that Florida residents will see happen.

Las Vegas-style Casinos (Possibly)

Florida attracts over 95 million tourists a year, so it’s little surprise that mega-casino resorts like the Las Vegas Sands have been trying to plant their corporate flag. HB 1223, sponsored by House Majority Leader Dana Young, would ask Broward and Miami-Dade counties to vote on allowing a $1.5 billion casino resort in the Miami area. “It keeps that issue on the agenda. It keeps it in play,” said House Rules Chairman Ritch Workman.

“That’s important, at least optically and literally for us having conversations up here.”

Slots separate from Dog Tracks

In addition to letting dog tracks decide if they want to keep poker and get rid of racing, they’d also have the option to keep slot machines too. The idea is to allow tracks to do what’s most profitable for them, rather than being forced to offer racing along with other forms of gaming.

Tracks can add Slot Machines

Dog tracks in Palm Beach and Lee counties would be able to add slots to their establishments if the House’s bill passes. However, this is on the condition that it would be permitted under the state’s compact with the Seminole Tribe of Florida.

All in all, HB 1223 seeks to move Florida away from the current model, which centers a lot of gaming around racing, and bring the state into a more-current casino-resort system. However, anybody who supports online poker might hope that the Las Vegas-style casino measure gets voted down. After all, this would thankfully keep anti-online gaming nut Sheldon Adelson and his Vegas Sands company out of the state.

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