Hurricane Hold'em hits Florida July 1

The Beach!
Calm before the poker storm

It wasn't exactly a ringing endorsement. But Florida Governor Charlie Crist has at least given a tacit thumbs up to an increased poker presence in state, letting Bill 752 - which ups betting limits to $5 and finally allows for No-Limit Texas Hold'em at licensed card rooms - pass into law unsigned.

How it works in Florida: If, after a designated amount of time, a bill approved by the House remains unsigned but has yet to be vetoed, it passes into law.

So it's official. Senate Bill 752 - originally introduced and approved April 27, upping betting limits to $5 and finally legalizing No-Limit Hold'em in licensed pari-mutuel card rooms - is now law.

The payout for poker players: Betting limits increase to $5 from $2 in limit poker games, and No-Limit Texas Hold'em cash games are now allowed, with a maximum $100 buy-in and no limit on winnings.

Higher buy-in tournaments are also now allowed, card rooms can open on non-racing days, and jackpots and other giveaways are on the table now too.

Only downside: The fee card rooms have to pay to license poker tables goes up.

But that likely won't bother card room owners too much, who have seen steadily declining profits at race tracks over the last few years and see small stakes poker games as a necessary profit buffer during the downtimes between heavy racing seasons.

It's also the biggest boost to the poker business since four years ago, when betting limits were raised to $2.

The new regulations come into effect July 1.

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