Florida Bill Prohibits Electronic Gambling
By Jana Sedlakova
Governor Rick Scott has signed a bill which has effectively banned online gambling in Florida. For some time it has been ambiguous as to whether remote gambling was legal or not. This new measure was carried out with the minimum of publicity.

A three year period of investigation into a charity called Allied Veterans of the World in Florida preceded the ban. Allegedly, the group failed to apply its earnings to charitable causes and the resultant public outrage has led to the resignation of Lieutenant Gov. Jennifer Carroll. Governor Rick Scott commented:
“Local, state and federal law enforcement officials just held a press conference in Orlando, announcing that 57 individuals were charged with illegal activity linked to a $300 million conspiracy orchestrated by Allied Veterans of the World.”
“Law enforcement officials executed 57 arrest warrants yesterday [Tuesday 12 March 2013] in 23 Florida counties and five additional states for individuals involved in the Allied Veterans conspiracy. They did a great job on this investigation and we appreciate their work.”
House Bill 155 was passed on 4 April 2013 by a margin of 36:4 votes. It can be found here

The Bill reads “Prohibition of Electronic Gambling Devices: Revises provisions relating to drawings by chance offered by non-profit organizations, game promotions in connection with sale of consumer products or services, amusement games or machines, amusement centres, racketeering activity, & promotional offers; provides that violations are deceptive & unfair trade practices; and provides legislative findings & declarations.”
The loss of jobs and revenues will be substantial. Reportedly some 14,000 jobs are to go. Rick Scott would allegedly not comment on the job losses as he has a prominent job creation agenda. This bill came after proclaiming 55 new jobs in the Lakeland area and several other employment initiatives are listed on his site.
According to a Miami Herald article published on 11 April 2013, the implementation of new rules, that practically limited the operation of arcade games and absolutely banned online gambling in an instant, has already resulted in closing down around 1,000 Internet cafes and more than 200 arcades. 
Opponents are already set to challenge the new law and the arcade industry is said to be in the process of seeking legal help.
Gale Fontaine, President of the Florida Arcade Association in a press release expressed disappointment at the “Florida Senate’s dismissal of amendments to protect hundreds of law-abiding, tax-paying arcades. Today’s action means amusement arcades, which have been operating legally for almost 30 years, will be forced to shut down. In addition to affecting Florida’s more than 200 senior arcades, children’s amusement arcades also face similar problems under this legislation. Forcing arcade customers to only use a coin and not a dollar bill to start a game and prohibiting customers from redeeming points for a retail gift card, could mean bowling alleys, malls, airports, restaurants, skating rinks, movie theatres and retail stores will feel the impact of this measure.” Source: Capital Soup.com, 4 April 2013 
This is perhaps surprising news as since 2011 individual US states are allowed to have intrastate online gambling operations and the momentum is clear from the developments in New Jersey, Nevada, Delaware and others. Some online gambling service providers have already secured remote gambling licenses in Nevada.
New Jersey passed online gambling legislation in February this year, closely followed by Nevada. In Hawaii interstate compacts and player pools might become reality. However, it also has been reported that a number of legislative changes have previously been put forward for adoption in Hawaii but without any practical success. Similarly, Massachusetts has been reported to have proposed two bills. One promotes legalisation of online casino games and the other an online lottery whilst both permitting interstate compacts. Mississippi and Pennsylvania are also reported to have proposed online gambling legislations. 
Florida has thus rather bucked the trend. Whilst the movement is slowly shifting towards intrastate regulation of online gambling there are some exceptions. It is, however, unlikely that this would have negative impacts on developments in other US states. Whether legal action will be taken to challenge the implications of the new bill remains to be seen.