Florida House seeks expanded poker

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Josh Hafenbrack of the <a href="http://www.sun-sentinel.com/entertainment/custom/gambling/sfl-poker-stakes-legislature-f04pnapr09,0,401246.story">South Florida Sun-Sentinel</a> is reporting that the Florida House has unveiled its gambling plan … and its great news for Florida poker players.

A bill working its way through the Florida Senate essentially lifts most restrictions on gambling in Florida, including limits on poker bets, buy-ins and tournament entries. But few people expected the conservative House to allow anything more than the bare minimum in order to reach a compact with the Seminole Tribe.

However, the plan Hafenrack says was unveiled Wednesday does much more than for the state’s rounders. It raises bet limits to $50, raises the buy-in for no-limit Texas Hold’em to $1,000, allows poker rooms to remain open 24 hours a day and allows quarterhorse tracks to offer thoroughbred racing and open poker rooms. The House plan also lowers taxes on slot machines and licensing fees.

The House plan is actually more generous than the Senate’s on hours of operation. The Senate allows for 18 hours a day, and 24 hours on weekends and holidays. But most poker room managers Ante Up have talked with say they’d be unlikely to deal for 24 hours except on weekends, so essentially the difference is minimal.

Nothing is guaranteed in the Legislature, of course, but it appears the House has set the bottom of its bar high enough to appease most Florida poker players, and any negotiation should be likely to raise that bar.