January 25, 2010

Florida looking into regulating online poker

Lawmakers in the state of Florida are looking into the possibility of legalizing and regulating online poker for local residents. Analysts in the Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability (basically the state government’s research branch) have decided that it’s time to make a decision, and they are considering three possibilities: allow online poker, ban online poker, or wait to see what the US government decides to do about online poker sites in the United States.

One of the primary arguments for regulating online poker is that it would be too difficult to try to implement any sort of ban. This has been demonstrated by the US government’s inability to prevent players from gambling on websites that are hosted in other countries. In fact, the current “ban” on internet gambling in the United States does not actually aim to prevent players from gambling online; instead, it only goes after banks in an attempt keep players from funding their accounts, because that is one small portion of the picture that the government can actually control.

Alex Regalado, one of the analysts looking into the possibility of legalizing online poker in Florida, talks of difficulty they would face trying to ban online poker sites. "Because they’re in other countries,” he says, “the law enforcement doesn't reach there."

In a recent report presented to the Senate Regulated Industries Committee, Regalado continues: "A law to prohibit Internet gambling could be difficult to enforce as anyone with the appropriate equipment and Internet connections can play online poker in the privacy of his or her own home."

Further arguments suggest that by allowing and regulating online poker in Florida, legislators could cut down on the use of unregulated sites that some players frequent. Regulation is important in the online poker industry because it ensures fair play, secure software, and safe financial transactions.

Meanwhile, the US government is facing similar questions in its debates over American online gambling laws. It is too early to say who will decide on the issue first.

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