hat are the main advantages of the bill for the state of Florida?
The main advantages are the following: One, it will legalize, regulate and bring in revenue dollars for the state of Florida without raising taxes. A portion of these resources will go to education and health. Besides, it is also an advantage for the consumer protection. Right now, we have identified over a million players playing online poker overseas, which is technically illegal, and the consumers do not have any level of recourse if they get in a problematic situation, so this is also a consumer protection bill, because it will bring them an avenue of legal recourses.
Do you think this bill will have influence in other states?
Sure. We were the first state in the nation that actually filed legislation, but many others are following, like Iowa, California, and there’s a list of states that are definitely joining and jumping on the train and looking at this type of legislation. However, when I say: “We are the first state to do a state bill”, we have to consider that the government has a bill in the congress, and that’s a concern for Florida, because if the federal government passes a law, the federal government will receive a bulk of the revenue. If we do it as a state, the state of Florida will get its own state dollars, so I think it’s imperative that we pass this legislation and collect the tax dollars for the state of Florida. This is gonna take a few years, but when I took this legislation on, I did it in mind that it’s gonna take a few years to actually get it passed. This is a two-year project in which I’m working on. The process to make a significant reform changed, such as legalizing online poker, won’t change overnight, so I have in mind that it will take, hopefully, by this time next year.
And talking about consumer protection. Does the bill also detail any measure with regards to people with gambling problems?
Absolutely. This will help our gambling addicts in the following areas: One, unlike the illegal player overseas, we are gonna do a few things: if the player is gambling too much, it will automatically be cut off. Secondly, if people play too many times, they will also be cut off. So there are mechanisms in place within the system itself that won’t let a consumer play out of control. That is, in my opinion, the strongest enforcement it must have.
What is the current situation of the bill in the congress?
We have to refer it to a committee. It is currently in the insurance, in business regulation, so it is commonly refered to a committee in which many of the people who oppose to it stay in the process in which they may not even refer to a committee, and that is not the case. We have to refer to a committee.