News from your Florida PPA State Director

By Poker Players Alliance
Sunday, November 22nd, 2009

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As recently announced, I have taken on the position as Florida State Director for the Poker Players Alliance. Since Florida is one of the most populous states in the nation and is on the verge of becoming one of the biggest poker destinations as well, there is a vital need for an active PPA membership. Below are the political and legislative issues I see for poker in Florida, and the actions you can take to help.

Uncapped Poker at Florida Cardrooms

This change was tied to the negotiations of a new gambling compact with the Seminole tribe, which has become stalled. However, it is likely that this change for poker, along with other changes in the laws for the pari-mutuels that were part of the same package, will be considered in a either a new separate bill in the next legislative session, or as part of package of gambling expansion at the pari-mutuels in a ballot initiative on next November’s election ballot.

Action Alert:
There is no current action required. I expect the state legislature to proceed on this issue with a positive resolution sometime next year. However, watch for further notice in case we do need to lobby our legislators. You can also keep up-to-date on the latest news on this issue on my 2+2 Forum thread.

Internet Poker State Licensing Program

Last spring a study of online poker activities in Florida was authorized by the state legislature with the intent to develop such a state program. The study is due to be completed by December 1st of this year, and it is possible that new legislation on this issue will be introduced in the spring Florida legislative session.

This licensing legislation will ensure that Internet poker remains available to Florida players despite the upcoming full implementation of the federal Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA). However, the legislation can two possible tacks: either as an open-access program that allows both in-state cardrooms as well as offshore sites to become licensed for Internet poker in Florida; or as a protectionist intrastate program that only allows in-state cardrooms to offer licensed Internet poker to Florida players. The first option, obviously, is the preferred method for poker players, and would also provide the opportunity for the existing Florida cardrooms to compete in the international Internet poker market. It falls upon the Florida PPA members to safeguard our playing options under the terms of these new laws.

Action Alert:
To prepare for the proactive stance we will likely need to make, I call upon you to help organize and expand the Florida PPA. You can volunteer now to help with some or all of these activities in Florida:
  • Distribute PPA pamphlets to poker players at home games, poker rooms, bar leagues, etc.
  • Meet with state lawmakers to discuss poker issues when necessary.
  • Mobilize your network of players for letter writing campaigns, petitions, etc. when needed.
Federal Licensing Option

The current bills being considered by the U.S. Congress to license and regulate Internet poker at the federal level include an option for each state to opt out of the program. This is a necessary provision on the federal level to preserve states rights. As players, we want to ensure that Florida does not opt out of a federal program.

Action Alert:
It is not too early to let the Florida state legislators know that you do not want Florida to opt out. Send the PPA letters to your lawmakers, and ask your friends, co-workers and family to do the same: http://capwiz.com/pokerplayersalliance/home/

Charity Poker Tournaments

Under current Florida law, poker tournaments held as a fund-raising activity for charitable organizations is unlawful, even when there are no cash prizes and the prizes are donated. This law was framed before the popularity and wide acceptance of poker tournament play and is rather outdated as there is no good reason to prohibit charity poker tournaments today.

Action Alert:
This issue will be taken up sometime in the future. You can let me know now that you will be available for lobbying when the time comes.

Home Game Limits

Florida law allows poker to be played in home games as long as it is a “penny-ante” game, which is defined as a game “in which the winnings of any player in a single round, hand, or game do not exceed $10 in value.” This $10 cap is rather outdated and no doubt makes most home game players into criminals. This cap should be raised to at least $100 for a single hand, and a $50 limit per person for a home game tournament buy-in, which today are reasonable limits for a social home game setting.

Action Alert:
This issue will be taken up sometime in the future. You can let me know now that you will be available for lobbying when the time comes.

To organize and activate the Florida PPA membership, these are the volunteer positions and activities I am looking for now:
  • Pari-mutuel/casino Cardroom Liaison Coordinator
  • Parti-mutuel/casino Contact Volunteers (need one for each location)
  • Bar League Liaison Coordinator
  • Bar League Contact Volunteers (need one for each area)
  • Legislator Contact Coordinator
  • Legislator Contact Volunteers (need at least one for each Florida county)
  • General Volunteers
Please e-mail me if you are willing to participate. The stronger our membership, the more political clout we can wield to influence our Florida lawmakers.

Aces Up,

Martin Shapiro
Florida State Director
Poker Players Alliance
[email protected]

The Poker Players Alliance
Dedicated to Protecting America’s Favorite Card Game

The Poker Players Alliance is a nonprofit membership organization comprised of poker players and enthusiasts from around the United States who have joined together to speak with one voice to promote the game and to protect poker players’ rights. Visit us at theppa.org

[Press Release] Martin Shapiro Named Florida State Director for Poker Players Alliance (11/02/09)

By Poker Players Alliance
Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009


[FL] South Florida Sun-Sentinel – Mardi Gras Racetrack poker room to go 24 hours (06/24/08)

By Nick Sortal
Tuesday, June 24th, 2008


Slipping through a loophole, Mardi Gras Racetrack & Gaming has received state approval to operate a 24-hour poker room.

The first non-Indian poker room in Florida to go 24 hours opens July 1.


[FL] The DeLand-Deltona Beacon – Sumter County says no to gambling (06/20/08)

By Pat Hatfield
Friday, June 20th, 2008


Voters in Sumter County said a firm “no” to a quarter-horse track and poker room proposed by Green Bridge Co.

The company, based in Bettendorf, Iowa, is the same one that wants to build a quarter-horse track and poker room in DeBary.


[FL] South Florida Sun-Sentinel – Seminoles big-money poker tourney angers racetracks (05/27/08)

By John Holland
Tuesday, May 27th, 2008


The largest poker tournament in Florida history comes to Broward County this weekend, a tribute to the games popularity and to the near monopoly power of the Seminole Tribes casino empire.

As many as 210 players will pay $3,000 apiece to enter the three-day event, which begins Friday at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood. The entry fee and potential first prize of more than $125,000 — exact figures depend on the final player count — dwarfs what is allowed by state law at Browards racetrack casinos and is made possible by the recent gaming compact between the tribe and Gov. Charlie Crist.

Seminoles big-money poker tourney angers racetracks — — South Florida Sun-Sentinel.com

[FL] The Gainesville Sun – Ocalas poker room deals a good opening (05/24/08)

By Anthony Clark
Monday, May 26th, 2008


ORANGE LAKE – More than 50 people – with no official public notice – were lined up for this week’s opening of the new card room at Ocala Poker & Jai Alai, newly renamed to add its new emphasis on poker.

Within an hour, 10 tables were full of eight to 10 players each. The players, almost all of them men of various ages, were considering their cards, watching other players’ faces, chatting about the game, bantering about past games, clicking poker chips together – on a weekday afternoon.


[FL] Poker bill could mean longer gaming hours

By Evan S. Benn, The Miami Herald
Thursday, April 3rd, 2008

Poker rooms could stay open later and dormant jai-alai frontons could become greyhound racetracks under two bills that won approval from a Senate committee Tuesday.

The poker bill paves the way for high-stakes and celebrity tournaments at parimutuels and would expand gaming to 18 hours a day on weekdays and 24 hours a day on weekends. Current law allows card rooms to operate for no more than 12 hours a day.

The bill, sponsored by Senate Minority Leader Steve Geller, would allow parimutuels to host and broadcast celebrity or charity poker tournaments like the ones that have become television mainstays in recent years.

They also could have high-stakes tournaments in which up to 1,000 players each pay up to $10,000 in entry fees.


“You have tournaments that are spread across the world, in Las Vegas, Atlantic City, but currently those tournaments are illegal in Florida,” said Geller, a Hallandale Beach Democrat. “We think this is a great way of generating free publicity for the state.”

The high-stakes tournaments would be allowed twice a year, and the charity or celebrity tournaments would be allowed six times a year under Geller’s bill.

The legislation requires parimutuel facilities to give at least 70 percent of proceeds from the celebrity events to qualified charities.

Geller attempted to pass similar legislation about expanding card room hours last year, but he said the measure failed in the House.

The Senate Regulated Industries Committee voted 8-2 in favor of the bill, which now faces two more committees.

A House companion measure has not yet been heard by any panels in that chamber.

A separate bill sponsored by state Sen. Dave Aronberg, a Greenacres Democrat, won 10-0 approval from the Regulated Industries Committee on Tuesday.

Aronberg’s bill would allow some jai-alai frontons to convert their parimutuel permits to greyhound racing, so long as the facilities have not hosted any jai-alai games within 10 years.

There are other criteria jai-alai facilities must meet in order to be considered for the dog-racing permit, including having no more than two parimutuels in the county.

As a result, the only facilities that would be eligible are Palm Beach Jai-Alai, Volusia Jai-Alai and Tampa Jai-Alai.

Click here to go to the article and read more.

[FL] Police arrest a full house

By Jim Harrington, Clearwater Citizen
Thursday, January 17th, 2008

Four people have been taken into custody on illegal gambling charges, stemming from a police raid at a Drew Street residence on Jan. 16 at 12:30 a.m.

Sascha N. Kauper, 33, of Palm Harbor was charged with two counts of keeping a gambling house. Robert Nicola Gill, 26, of Tampa was charged with two counts of being an employee of a gambling house and Chastity Ann Baur, 30, of Tampa was charged with one count of being an employee of a gambling house.