With New Jersey now just a signature away from being the first US state to offer legal online poker, Florida Rep. Joseph Abruzzo thinks his own intrastate poker bill will get a shot in the legislative arm. Abruzzo’s plan would allow the card rooms at Florida’s pari-mutuel racing facilities to act as portals feeding into three ‘hubs’. Abruzzo thinks his bill is the right thing for Florida, because unlike those rumored resort casinos Sheldon Adelson is supposedly bringing to town in a couple years, Abruzzo’s plan would start earning the cash-strapped state money as early as July 1. But in order to get traction, Abruzzo will have to convince the moral majority types that poker is good clean harmless fun. Problem is, recent headlines suggest anything but.
We’ll start with David Saab. The poker pro, who finished 46th at the 2008 World Series of Poker and won the Manila stop on the 2008 Asian Poker Tour, was just hauled before an Australian judge after being caught trying to smuggle 21kg of cocaine into Australia earlier this month. The drugs were hidden in crates of machine parts loaded onto a boat in Vancouver, then shipped to Sydney. If convicted, Saab and his two accomplices could face up to 25 years in prison. Australian prison.
Speaking of Vancouver, a man on the opposite coast of Canada has been dealt a rather cruel blow by a casino poker room. Emmett Peters, 57, was playing poker at Casino Nova Scotia earlier this month, when a waitress brought him another glass of ginger ale. Or so he thought. Turns out the waitress accidentally served Peters a beer, and Peters didn’t notice until he’d already taken a sip. Sounds like small potatoes, until you learn that Peters is a former alcoholic who hadn’t tasted booze in three and a half decades. Oops. Peters was so angry at seeing his sober streak come to an end that he smashed his glass, which got him banned from the casino for three months. That’s right, Emmett. It’s your fault.
Next up, we have the rather disturbing news that China’s Bureau of Standards, Metrology and Inspection (BSMI) has found that almost 20% of the poker cards manufactured in the country contain “an above standard amount of free-formaldehyde.” The national standard ceiling for formaldehyde is 75 parts per million, but some of the tainted packs showed levels in excess of 600ppm. (Read ’em and die!) Formaldehyde is listed by the World Health Organization as a possible leading cause of cancer-related death. Actually, Abruzzo could use this last one to his advantage. To our knowledge, there’s ZERO formaldehyde in online poker cards.