Charity Poker Bill Introduced in Florida

On Monday, new legislation was introduced in the state of Florida that would provide specific organizations with the ability to run poker tournaments with low stakes. Because the state of Florida still considers poker a game of chance and not skill, charity poker games are within the category of illegal gambling laws. If the new HB 799 is enacted, the restrictions would be changed somewhat and such games could take place.

Floridapolitics.com reports that the new bill was introduced and is being pushed by Representative Elizabeth Porter. If passed, the measure would allow for organizations such as charities, non-profits and veterans associations to host charity poker tournaments if the buy-in is set at $200 or less. The bill has a stipulation that a minimum of 40% of the prize pool must be paid to the players participating but the percentage paid out cannot surpass 80%.

Other stipulations include that the person hosting the tournament must be an individual of the community where the organization is located and be a member of the organization. The individual is not allowed to be compensated for their efforts.

The bill also includes rules for the games, with a provision in place that will prohibit any organization from refusing to allow a poker player to compete based on several criteria including marital status, handicap, nation of origin, age, race, color, sex, pregnancy or religion.

The rules for poker are already quite clear in the state so this new bill would provide an outlet for charity organizations to take part in tournament gaming. Indian casinos and pari-mutuel operators can offer cardrooms while poker home games are restricted to penny-ante games which means that the pot size cannot exceed an amount of $10.

It will be interesting to see if this measure is able to pass muster as the state is already considering what to do in another gambling matter, with negotiations ongoing for a new gaming compact between the Seminole Tribe and the state.

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