he legislation outlines a fully regulated system of online gambling in the state. If approved by lawmakers, Florida would be the first state to use rules from the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 to help regulate Internet gambling.
The UIGEA was put in place by US lawmakers back in December 2006 with the intent of ridding the country of online gambling. In the years that have followed, the industry has grown instead of shrunk.
One area of the UIGEA allows for states to lawfully regulate and conduct intrastate Internet gambling, such as poker. Abruzzo's legislation, which was filed Friday, takes advantage of that clause.
The Bill filed Friday would allow for Internet hub operators to run the online poker sites. In order to gain a license, hub operators would have to be chosen by the state, and some strict guidelines are outlined.
First, the operator would have to have a business license in Florida. Second, they would have to be licensed in one or more US states. Next, the operator must be licensed to offer online poker in a country outside of the US.
If those stipulations are met, an application fee of us$ 500,000 would be paid to the Pari-Mutuel Wagering Trust Fund of the Department of Business and Professional Regulations. If approved, the licensee would then have to pay a us$ 1,000 annual license fee.
Once the online poker site is set up, there are also strict rules in Abruzzo's proposal. The minimum gambling age would be twenty-one, and safeguards against any form of money laundering must be in place. The Internet hub operators must also fully insure the all software being used is up to regulation standards.
Safeguards for players have been one of the main reasons that Representative Barney Frank has proposed legislation to overturn the UIGEA. Currently, millions of people in the US are gambling online at sites that are not regulated by the government.
In Florida, any licensee would have to ensure that the player is protected not only against fraud, but also against themselves. Gambling addiction is one of the top problems for lawmakers looking to expand, and Abruzzo has covered that in his Bill.
The Internet hubs must put limits on how many deposits and how much a player can deposit each day. In addition, a limit must be placed on how much a player can lose in a set amount of time. A time limit on how long a poker player can play in one session will be required as well.
The percent of taxes on the winnings is always another issue that lawmakers grapple with when creating gambling laws. In the Internet Poker Consumer Protection and Revenue Generation Act of 2010, Abruzzo has laid out a plan for twenty percent of the winnings each month to paid in taxes. Whether or not the legislation filed Friday passes or not will depend on lawmakers' ability to see the future potential and reconcile their differences on the Internet gambling issue.
One thing that is certain, however, is that Rep. Abruzzo has covered all of the bases that typically get these type proposals thrown out, paving the way for Florida to become the first state in the US to regulate online gambling.