Internet gambling - Florida

OPPAGA presentation date to Senate committee set

The Florida state legislature's Office of Program Policy & Government Analysis (OPPAGA) has announced that it is to present its final review of online gambling regulation pros and cons to the state Senate Regulated Industries Committee on the late afternoon of January 19th.

The presentation follows OPPAGA research and deliberations late last year which are commonly believed to have been prompted by Florida's need to close budgetry gaps.

In October and November last year Florida House legislators studied the contents of the review, which presents politicians with options and contingent advantages and disadvantages (see previous InfoPowa reports).

In the event that the state government prefers to take the lead from federal lawmakers instead of adopting an individual state approach to the legalisation of Internet gambling in general or poker in particular, then nothing need be done to change the present status quo. But the downside is that such a course could see the state presented with a federal solution that would not meet or suit state priorities.

In the event that a decision is taken to actively prevent online gambling, then there are difficult and expensive law enforcement considerations, quite apart from opposition from voters who may view online gambling as desirable.

Legalising online poker within the state has the advantage of regulatory control over the activity and the generation of tax revenues desperately needed to shore up the state finances. In this context it will be interesting to see whether the review has a better grasp of the financial benefits than it's previously stated: "...at this time no objective estimates exist to assess potential state revenues."

That statement last year created some waves, coming on the heels of an educated estimate by the Poker Voters of America organisation of $90 million a year from legalised online poker alone.

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