Florida Internet Poker Legislation
See the new website about Florida Internet Poker Legislation: iPokerFlorida.com
I have prepared a draft bill for the licensing and regulation of online poker in Florida:
The bill is built on Representative (now Senator) Abruzzo’s HB 77, introduced in the Florida House in 2011. There are many changes, mainly for clarity, ease of implementation and a more robust system of player protections. Here are cliffs of the bill:
Title: INTERNET POKER LICENSING AND CONSUMER PROTECTION ACT OF 2016
Any person or business may apply to be licensed as an Internet poker network operator, as long they haven’t taken online gambling wagers from Florida in felony violation of state or federal law in the past 3 years.
Every licensed cardroom in the state that has at least 5 live poker tables in operation may apply for a license as a “network affiliate”, allowing them to run one or more Internet poker sites as portals (skins) to one or more of the licensed Internet poker networks. This means that only licensed cardrooms will have Florida-licensed Internet poker sites (running on the licensed networks). Network affiliates may combine to run a portal together.
Players are allowed to have one account on each portal of a network, but are blocked from playing from more than one of their accounts at a time in the same game (cash game table, or tournament).
Any nonbanking poker game is allowed.
Rake may be hourly, percentage, per-hand, or flat rate, but not based on the amount won or lost.
The gross receipts (rake & fees, minus player incentives like jackpots, bonuses, rakeback, etc.) of each poker network will be distributed each month as follows:
10% goes to the state as taxes. The remainder is split:
40% minimum goes to the network affiliates of the network, according to whatever the contract terms are between the affiliates and the network.
10% gets split evenly to all active network affiliates in the state.
4% must be spent by the poker network on advertising Internet poker within the state during the year.
1% goes to problem gambling.
The remainder is retained by the network operator.
Networks pay an annual $250,000 license fee to the state.
Network affiliates pay a $1,000 annual license fee to the state.
Applicants for a network license, after satisfying all investigations and platform testing, get a 30-day temporary license that allows them to register players, take deposits and service up to 100 players at a time (but the regulator can increase this to up to 500). Once the regulator determines that the poker network is satisfactorily operational, they issue a full 5-year license to the network.
For initial launch, the regulator will set a date when all the initial temporary 30-day licenses go live, and full 5-year licenses won’t be issued earlier than 30 days later.
Networks upon receiving an initial license make a $5M deposit with the state against future taxes (if they go out of business or lose their license, half of what remains is refundable).
Networks must apply to renew their license every 5 years.
Network affiliates renew their license every year along with their live cardroom license.
All player and jackpot funds must be held in separate banking accounts within the state of Florida or be covered by a surety bond, and protected from insolvency, business failure, loss of license, etc.
Players must be 18+ and located in Florida at the time of play.
Sites may take player registrations in person, by phone, email or online (but identity must be verified).
The Department of Parimutuel Wagering (which oversees Florida cardrooms) will be in charge of licensing and regulation, and will also have the authority to make agreements with regulators in other jurisdictions for player pooling on the poker networks.
Bots and similar software are forbidden.
Systems to detect cheating, fraud, theft, and anomalous play are required.
It will be illegal for a business to allow play in online poker from Florida players, for free or for money, unless the business is in compliance with all state and federal laws and tax regulations.