The quick passage by the Florida House of Representatives of a measure designed to rid the state of gambling-parlor “internet cafes” has caused concern among the state’s online poker players, worried that the legislation’s language, in addition to the targeting of the internet cafes, will also result in a legal ban on online poker.
HB 155, the latest Florida House version of the bill, passed easily on Friday by a 108-7 vote. A similar bill, SB 1030, is currently under review by the Florida Senate Rules Committee, but is expected to receive similar rapid approval once it reaches the Senate floor.
The concern, first raised by Martin Shapiro on poker forum 2+2, is the broad definition of “slot machine or device.” In conjunction with other parts of the bill, these definitions appear to have the effect of defining all manner of devices and all games involving elements of chance—including skill-based ones—as part of the “slot machine” definition.
In addition, the bill attempts to define every possible avenue through which value can be transmitted: money, credit, allowance, etc. The bill’s inclusion of the word “information” in this category even stretches the value definition beyond physical items, in an attempt to short-circuit previous legal end runs by the internet cafes using electronic codes for access and credit.