A new sweepstakes bill which was recently passed 108-7 by the Florida House, could make it difficult in the future to have online poker legalized and regulated in the state. The bill explicitly states that it is no longer legal for an electronic device to accept currency or coins, nor account numbers and codes, which would result in players receiving extra credits, prizes or anything else of value. An exception to his would be from electronic gaming devices which are situated on approved casino properties, tribal reservations or racetracks.
The reason that this bill was introduced was to close the loophole used by the hundreds of internet cafes across the state who serve as fronts for illegal online gambling activities. These cafes offer their players the chance to win prizes when they purchase internet air time, redeemable when entering a code. Players are then able to play machines that look and act like slots or video poker machines and win prizes based on their results.
Online poker proponents are afraid that the language of the new bill could be used to apply to online poker and other forms of online gambling, making it that much more difficult to have these forms of entertainment legalized in Florida. It means that portions of the latest bill would need to be repealed in order for any type of online poker legalization to take place in the future.
Florida passed this bill following the recent scandal involving Lt. Gov Jennifer Carroll, who resigned last week after being questioned by police for her role in the Allied Veterans of the World organization which, according to authorities only passed on $6 million of the $260 million it claimed was raised for charity. Sixty people have been arrested in this case, and charged with crimes ranging from illegal gambling to extortion.