For years now, growing revenues from poker play at racetracks have been adding millions to Florida’s tax coffers. The surging popularity of Texas Hold ‘em and tournament poker has added even more fuel to the growth of Florida tax earnings, until now.
Recently, some racetracks decided to up the ante and challenge legal limits on amounts wagered in poker play. Initially, state courts didn’t object to the challenge, allowing the Florida state Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering to increase betting limits at authorized sites. When no-limit wagering at poker tournaments made its debut, however, officials decided to step in and cease all tournament poker activity indefinitely.
Though cash games (mostly low limit) can still be played at the racetracks, some sites, such as Dania Jai-Alai and Melbourne Greyhound Park, have already started to see a drop in patronage. Other card rooms, particularly in southern Florida, reported no significant changes thus far as a consequence of the legal ruling.
There is tremendous competition for clientèle in the gaming industry, mainly from cruise ships, tribal casinos, and online gambling sites. Understandably, then, the ban on poker tournaments has many Florida card room managers concerned. Most of them, however, are hesitant to contest the issue openly since they have a vested interest in the promotion of gambling in the state.