Argument over Online Gambling Bill in Florida House

By Debra SaundersGoogle

The Florida House of Representatives is set to vote on the Prohibition of Electronic Gambling Devices bill soon.  Though the bill, supported by Governor Rick Scott and his cabinet, is expected to clear the house, there remains serious doubt it will be able to pass the senate.  On one side of the debate is the argument that Florida internet cafes are raking in over one billion dollars annually in online gambling revenue without any kickbacks for the state.  On the other side of the debate are the Seminole Indians who claim that the bill will undue the existing agreement between their tribal casinos and the State of Florida.

Currently, Florida internet cafes are using an outdated sweepstakes law from 1971 in order to engage in what can essentially be defined as electronic casino games.  Barry Richard, the lawyer representing the Seminole tribe on this matter, explained that just because these internet cafes call what they are doing a sweepstakes does not mean it really is a sweepstakes.  He is seeking to outlaw what the internet cafes are doing without disrupting the tribal casinos’ status quo. 

Miami Republican Senator Miguel Diaz de la Portilla is one of the bill’s sponsors; he said that the new bill will have no impact on the Seminole Tribe casinos.  He explained that the internet cafes existed before the casino deal was struck with the Seminole.  Some casino reviews claim that the only reason the Seminole are against the bill is because they fear that as a result of the legislation they may lose their monopoly.  One casino guide pointed out that the sweepstakes loophole in not only used in Florida but is used in many states across the U.S.   

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