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Online Poker Legislation Could Open Up Seminole Gambling In Florida

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Lawmakers in Florida are kicking the tires on a plan to bring regulated online poker to the state through pari-mutuel facilities. The legislation, if passed, could hurt pari-mutuels much more than it will help.

The Seminole Indians are always the wild card when it comes to gaming in the Sunshine State. By law, the Seminoles are permitted to offer any form of gambling that is legal in the state. That means that if online poker legislation is passed, the Seminoles could automatically earn the right to offer Internet gambling.

Through the course of history, the Seminoles and their team of lawyers have made every attempt to find gaming laws they could exploit. Most recently, the Seminoles began offering blackjack at their Hard Rock Casino in Hollywood, despite the fact that they had not completed a compact with the state.

Fearing they would lose in court, the state decided to negotiate a compact, which was completed last year, instead of trying to shut down the blackjack games at the Hollywood casino. The precedent in the state is that the Seminoles will find any and all loopholes in gaming laws.

If the pari-mutuels were given the right to offer online poker rooms through third party sites, the Seminoles would likely do the same. The Seminoles may even have their sites up and running before the pari-mutuels. That would create an unregulated Internet gaming industry for some online gamblers in the state, while others would play at the regulated pari-mutuel sites.

Florida lawmakers appear serious about bringing online poker in a regulated form to the states millions of online gamblers. Another risk they take by doing so and not including the Seminoles is possibly a battle over the Seminole gaming compact.

Indian tribes all across the US have used new gaming laws to try and eliminate revenue payments to the state. It is unclear if the Seminoles would seek that type of option considering that they currently have a cordial relationship with the Florida government.

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