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Legislation for Poker & Income Taxes for Poker Players Discussions of various poker-related laws and steps players can take to push for better laws.

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Old 11-14-2011, 07:25 AM   #1
PokerXanadu
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Florida Home Games Legislation

I am starting a campaign to change Florida law to raise the wagering cap for legal home poker games, and can use help from other Florida players.

Currently, the law reads:

Quote:
(a) "Penny-ante game " means a game or series of games of poker, pinochle, bridge, rummy, canasta, hearts, dominoes, or mah-jongg in which the winnings of any player in a single round, hand, or game do not exceed $10 in value.
which I want to get changed to:

Quote:
(a) "Penny-ante game " means a game or series of games of poker, pinochle, bridge, rummy, canasta, hearts, dominoes, or mah-jongg in which the wager of any player in a single round, hand, game or tournament does not exceed $100 in value.
The first step is finding a Florida congressional member who will introduce the legislation. I have written to my Representative and my Senator (see below) to request their involvement. Anyone who wants to get involved, please write something similar to your representatives to ask them to introduce legislation this congressional session. Find your representative (click the tab at left to Find Your Representative). Please post here or PM with a copy of your letter. You can write to both your FL Representative and your Senator as well.

The main points to push are:

1. The current statute is outdated and makes almost all social home poker games illegal.

2. There is currently no clear legal distinction for Florida poker players to judge at what stakes they should limit their home game and at what stakes they are required to attend a licensed cardroom instead.

3. The current outdated law makes it difficult for law enforcement to distinguish between a harmless social game and a commercial underground game.

Once we find a representative to introduce the legislation, we can start lobbying for it.

Quote:
Dear Representative Hooper:

As a resident of District 50 in Clearwater, I am writing to ask you to introduce a bill in the Florida legislature this session to update current Florida gambling law regarding penny-ante home games of poker and similar social games, specifically section 849.085 of the Florida statutes.

Current Florida law provides that no participant of a legal penny-ante game may win more than $10 in a single round, hand or game. Although I have been unable to determine when this law was enacted, I believe it is sufficient to say that it is outdated. Due to inflation since the enactment of this statute, the $10 cap makes it virtually impossible to play a recreational home poker game of reasonable stakes while staying within the law.

As an example, it is usual to play a home poker tournament where the players buy in for $25 each, with seating for 20 players – which is two tables to start. Almost anyone can afford $25 for an evening of entertainment. It is standard practice to award the prize pool in a poker tournament to about the top 10 to 20% of the entrants, in order of finish (poker tournaments are played until all players but one lose all their tournament chips). In this example, there is $500 in the prize pool with prizes for the top four players of $200 for first, $125 for second, $100 for third and $75 for fourth.

Under Florida law, this tournament would be illegal. In fact, you couldn’t legally run such a home game tournament with much more than a $1 per person buy-in. Certainly this is an unreasonable cap today, especially considering the current popularity of poker.

I propose changing the current $10 win cap to a more reasonable $100 maximum bet or buy-in. With this larger cap, Floridians who play in penny-ante home games will be able to have a completely legal game, without the worry of being raided by the police for illegal gambling. Changing the cap in this manner would allow for legal penny-ante games, while still disallowing the higher stakes games, that are better suited to licensed cardrooms for security and regulation purposes, to be played in home games.

Specifically, I ask that legislation be introduced that changes the wording of Statute 849.085(2)(a) to the following:

“(a) "Penny-ante game " means a game or series of games of poker, pinochle, bridge, rummy, canasta, hearts, dominoes, or mah-jongg in which the wager of any player in a single round, hand, game or tournament does not exceed $100 in value.”

Having a realistic cap would have the additional benefit of a reasonable and clear definition for Florida poker players of which stakes they are allowed to play at home and which stakes they are required to attend a licensed cardroom to play. Since nearly every recreational home game currently played for money is illegal under the current $10 cap, enforcement of the law is close to non-existent in the state as it is too difficult to distinguish between a friendly social game and an underground commercial game. The new $100 cap would help law enforcement to know what poker games outside the cardrooms are prohibited as well as give players a clear guideline to the proper restrictions for their social home games.

I thank you for taking the time to read this, and look forward to your reply. I would be particularly interested in speaking with you directly on this issue as it is of concern to myself and my friends, all voters who enjoy our recreational games of poker. Please also tell me the best method to arrange such a conversation in person.

Last edited by PokerXanadu; 11-14-2011 at 08:03 AM.
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Old 11-14-2011, 11:48 PM   #2
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Re: Florida Home Games Legislation

Good luck!
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Old 11-16-2011, 02:03 AM   #3
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Re: Florida Home Games Legislation

the term penny ante game should probably be changed to low stakes non-raked game or something similar to reflect that it's lower stakes than what casino's in the state offer and that no social game can collect a rake or fee to spread the game.

at 100$ buyins it probably won't be considered penny ante by the average rep or senator.

personally i'd rather see the betting limit strickened from the verbage all together and only reflect that a game host can not collect a rake or fee. atleast then in the event of a legal debate the amount of money in play won't be a deciding factor on if you are breaking an arbitrary law where for one person or group of people $100 represents a lot of money and to another person or group it represents very little.
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Old 11-16-2011, 04:34 AM   #4
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Re: Florida Home Games Legislation

A high stakes UNraked game is illegal in Florida?

Almost positive this is not the case in Louissianna , what about other states ?
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Old 11-16-2011, 04:56 AM   #5
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Re: Florida Home Games Legislation

Nice effort. If you need any help from the advocacy group I'm creating just PM me.
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Old 11-16-2011, 05:36 AM   #6
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Re: Florida Home Games Legislation

Quote:
Originally Posted by techvoodoo View Post
the term penny ante game should probably be changed to low stakes non-raked game or something similar to reflect that it's lower stakes than what casino's in the state offer and that no social game can collect a rake or fee to spread the game.

at 100$ buyins it probably won't be considered penny ante by the average rep or senator.

personally i'd rather see the betting limit strickened from the verbage all together and only reflect that a game host can not collect a rake or fee. atleast then in the event of a legal debate the amount of money in play won't be a deciding factor on if you are breaking an arbitrary law where for one person or group of people $100 represents a lot of money and to another person or group it represents very little.
I went with a minimal verbiage change approach from the current statute. I think it will be much easier to get that accepted than a major overhaul. The current law does cover no rake or fee later on in the provision. You can read the whole thing here:
http://www.gambling-law-us.com/State-Laws/Florida/

Once I find a sponsor for the bill, we can discuss the best approach, i.e. whether to do just a cap increase or remove the cap, etc. I think removing the cap is not an option - the licensed cardrooms would never allow such to pass.

One of the other provisions of the current statute I'd like to change is the prohibition against any sort of advertising of the game. This provision is just too broad as who is to say what is or what is not advertising. If I e-mail my friends or post on a forum that I will be holding a home game next Saturday, is that advertising and therefore illegal? But I'll wait to bring that up once a sponsor is found.

Specifically, I'd like to change this:
Quote:
(d) A person may not solicit participants by means of advertising in any form, advertise the time or place of any penny-ante game, or advertise the fact that he or she will be a participant in any penny-ante game.
to:
Quote:
(d) A person may not solicit participants by means of commercial or paid advertising in any form including advertising the time or place of any penny-ante game, or advertising the fact that he or she will be a participant in any penny-ante game.
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Old 11-16-2011, 05:44 AM   #7
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Re: Florida Home Games Legislation

Quote:
Originally Posted by THAKID View Post
A high stakes UNraked game is illegal in Florida?

Almost positive this is not the case in Louissianna , what about other states ?
Social gambling (including unraked poker) is not prohibited by LA law as long as it is not conducted in public. It is illegal in many other states:
http://www.gambling-law-us.com/State-Law-Summary/
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Old 11-16-2011, 01:20 PM   #8
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Re: Florida Home Games Legislation

I think just making it clear that the old laws are just that old and archaic(as well as unclear and illogical).... And that Other states have adjusted them by banning raked games and allowing social games of any kind would be the best strategy
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Old 11-16-2011, 03:11 PM   #9
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Re: Florida Home Games Legislation

Quote:
Originally Posted by THAKID View Post
I think just making it clear that the old laws are just that old and archaic(as well as unclear and illogical).... And that Other states have adjusted them by banning raked games and allowing social games of any kind would be the best strategy
I like this.
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Old 11-16-2011, 03:20 PM   #10
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Re: Florida Home Games Legislation

Quote:
Originally Posted by THAKID View Post
I think just making it clear that the old laws are just that old and archaic(as well as unclear and illogical).... And that Other states have adjusted them by banning raked games and allowing social games of any kind would be the best strategy
Maybe. Once I get a sponsor for the legislation I'll discuss with them the best strategy, as they will probably know more about that for my state legislature than me. The first step is still to find a sponsor. Anyone else interested in writing to their FL representatives to help find one?
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Old 11-16-2011, 03:26 PM   #11
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Re: Florida Home Games Legislation

Glad your doing it, but have to ask

Why?

U want to run a home game ?
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Old 11-16-2011, 05:29 PM   #12
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Re: Florida Home Games Legislation

Quote:
Originally Posted by THAKID View Post
Glad your doing it, but have to ask

Why?

U want to run a home game ?
I used to host them. None lately, but have friends who do them once in a while.
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Old 11-16-2011, 08:18 PM   #13
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Re: Florida Home Games Legislation

Sent a copy of your letter to Representative Abruzzo of District 85. I'll let you know if I hear back.
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Old 11-16-2011, 08:45 PM   #14
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Re: Florida Home Games Legislation

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Originally Posted by mmmmcake View Post
Sent a copy of your letter to Representative Abruzzo of District 85. I'll let you know if I hear back.
Great!
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Old 11-16-2011, 10:14 PM   #15
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Re: Florida Home Games Legislation

Good luck, Floridians.
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Old 02-24-2013, 09:32 AM   #16
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Re: Florida Home Games Legislation

Bump,

So whats the next step?
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Old 02-24-2013, 09:36 AM   #17
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Re: Florida Home Games Legislation

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Originally Posted by jaxtraw View Post
Bump,

So whats the next step?
The next step is still the first step: finding a State Representative who will sponsor the legislation. This requires individuals to contact and meet with their own Representatives. If there is a bite (a Rep who says they would consider it), I'd be happy to travel for a meeting.
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Old 02-24-2013, 10:04 AM   #18
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Re: Florida Home Games Legislation

It is Ted Deutch, he seems to be pretty decent. What was the response from your rep?
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Old 02-24-2013, 10:08 AM   #19
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Re: Florida Home Games Legislation

Quote:
Originally Posted by jaxtraw View Post
It is Ted Deutch, he seems to be pretty decent. What was the response from your rep?
None. But he wasn't a good prospect anyway. Let me know if you get anywhere with Ted Deutch.
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Old 02-25-2013, 01:27 PM   #20
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Re: Florida Home Games Legislation

As someone trying to do something similar in my state, good luck.
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Old 02-25-2013, 02:28 PM   #21
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Re: Florida Home Games Legislation

"Penny ante" is arbitrary and I think 100 dollars is dangerously low. Even if a .25/50 cent game, I've seen pots exceed 100 dollars quite a few times in a night.

If you have to use an arbitrary limit, I'd raise it past 100 dollars, although I see how non-poker players would think that a few hundred dollars is a lot bigger than it seems.

Good luck, though!
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Old 02-25-2013, 04:15 PM   #22
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Re: Florida Home Games Legislation

Quote:
Originally Posted by Boney526 View Post
"Penny ante" is arbitrary and I think 100 dollars is dangerously low. Even if a .25/50 cent game, I've seen pots exceed 100 dollars quite a few times in a night.

If you have to use an arbitrary limit, I'd raise it past 100 dollars, although I see how non-poker players would think that a few hundred dollars is a lot bigger than it seems.

Good luck, though!
There are over 25 commercial poker rooms in FL. I think their opposition to anything over $100 would be too great to overcome.
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Old 02-25-2013, 04:18 PM   #23
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Re: Florida Home Games Legislation

Quote:
Originally Posted by THAKID View Post
A high stakes UNraked game is illegal in Florida?

Almost positive this is not the case in Louissianna , what about other states ?
I'm from Missouri and when riverboats came in, the language allowing home games got taken out.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Boney526 View Post
"Penny ante" is arbitrary and I think 100 dollars is dangerously low. Even if a .25/50 cent game, I've seen pots exceed 100 dollars quite a few times in a night.

If you have to use an arbitrary limit, I'd raise it past 100 dollars, although I see how non-poker players would think that a few hundred dollars is a lot bigger than it seems.

Good luck, though!
That may be true, BUT it seems like allowing each round to reach $100 would cover it if pre-flop is a round, the flop is a round, etc.
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Old 02-26-2013, 10:26 PM   #24
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Re: Florida Home Games Legislation

Quote:
Originally Posted by Boney526 View Post
"Penny ante" is arbitrary and I think 100 dollars is dangerously low. Even if a .25/50 cent game, I've seen pots exceed 100 dollars quite a few times in a night.

If you have to use an arbitrary limit, I'd raise it past 100 dollars, although I see how non-poker players would think that a few hundred dollars is a lot bigger than it seems.

Good luck, though!
The language PX wants to propose would say that no single wager is to exceed $100. So a pot reaching that amount would be fine, provided no one person commits more than $100 to the pot. Actually, I guess it'd depend on how you define "wager". Would a wager be the amount bet over the course of a hand, or in a single betting round?

Last edited by Freewill2112; 02-26-2013 at 10:28 PM. Reason: Edit: never mind...it's"round, game, hand, or tournament."
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Old 02-27-2013, 02:19 AM   #25
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Re: Florida Home Games Legislation

Quote:
Originally Posted by Freewill1978 View Post
The language PX wants to propose would say that no single wager is to exceed $100. So a pot reaching that amount would be fine, provided no one person commits more than $100 to the pot. Actually, I guess it'd depend on how you define "wager". Would a wager be the amount bet over the course of a hand, or in a single betting round?
Yes, that's correct. My language means that each player in a hand could put up to $100 max into the pot for the hand.
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