Back in March, we told you about Rep. Joseph Abruzzo’s attempt to bring intrastate online poker to Florida residents. That bill, HB1441, died in committee just two months after first appearing, but Abruzzo has since dug it up, dusted it off and wheeled it back down to the state legislature as HB77, the Internet Poker Consumer Protection & Revenue Generation Act of 2010.
The bill would initially call for three ‘hubs’ (online poker rooms), with multiple ‘affiliates’ (skins) feeding into these hubs. Florida’s land-based card rooms would serve as the affiliates, and would be the only avenue by which players could register to play. A Florida address would not be required to play, merely a physical presence in the state. Like Sen. Harry Reid’s proposed legislation would have done at the federal level, HB77 would explicitly make offering unlicensed poker to Florida residents illegal. If you operated such a site prior to the bill’s passage, you’d have to wait three years before applying to become a hub.
Given its previous version’s short life span, Abruzzo’s bill likely faces an uphill climb once the state legislature reconvenes in March. Those looking for favorable omens will cringe at the realization that HB1441’s number scheme contained two matching pairs of digits, whereas HB77 has only one. Oh well, perhaps Abruzzo’s been playing online in the interim, and has since learned how to bluff.