Two states look at expanding poker

The Winning Hand

Both Florida and Colorado are looking at measures that could expand the game of poker in both states.

According to the Palm Beach Post, the Florida Senate has approved allowing around-the-clock poker play on weekends and 18-hour days during the week in the state.

The Senate approved the change in hours last week as part of a larger pari-mutuel measure, but it has yet to be approved by the House.

The Senate will soon be considering expanding what poker rooms can offer in the way of tournaments as well. Poker rooms may be permitted to host two high-stakes, televised poker tournaments each year, like those put on by the World Poker Tour. They could also be able to host six celebrity charity tournaments each year.

Senate members pointed out that the changes are necessary for the casinos to compete with gaming facilities on Indian reservations.

The reservations were recently allowed to expand their poker operations, while the non-reservation cardrooms are restricted to a 12-hour day.

In Colorado, Sen. Ron Tupa has proposed a constitutional amendment that will eliminate the $5 bet limit on table games in Colorado casinos.

According to local media, the senator said changing the bet limits is one easy area to find additional revenue for the state.

His proposal doesn't suggest a new limit for the bets on table games such as poker and blackjack. Instead Tupa is waiting to see what his fellow lawmakers have to say about the limits and what they could potentially use the extra money for.

Tupa's proposal will need to be approved by two-thirds of the members of the state House and Senate to make it onto the November ballot.

Even just doubling the wager limit to $10 for blackjack, poker and slot machines could bring in an additional $13.7 million in state taxes in the first year, according to the legislature's chief economist, Mike Mauer.

Changing the betting limits could also help offset the dip in revenues that casinos saw in March. Some people in the gaming community are pointing to a recent smoking ban as the cause of a 15% drop in revenue during the month. The state extended its pre-existing smoking ban to cover casinos effective Jan. 1.

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