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Florida Poker Rooms See Mini-Boom Since Law Change

Majority Of Rooms See An Increase In Revenue

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In case you haven’t noticed, there’s a poker surge going on in the state of Florida. Ever since the state government decided to lift a buy-in cap that restricted no-limit games to just $100, business has been, for the most part, booming.

Since the July 1st law change, poker rooms at pari-mutuels are reporting an overall revenue increase of nearly 35 percent. The biggest poker rooms, such as The Isle Casino and Racing and the Palm Beach Kennel Club, are reporting numbers closer to 50 percent.

Take a look at some of the numbers from the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering below.

Casino Property June 2010 July 2010 August 2010
Palm Beach Kennel Club $759,827 $1,153,314 $1,016,972
Pompano Isle Casino and Racing $797,462 $1,099,886 $1,077,415
Magic City Casino $418,787 $632,108 $573,836
Gulfstream $273,593 $428,353 $436,725
Mardi Gras $434,233 $413,632 $345,863
Calder Race Track $349,264 $315,609 $286,233
Dania Jai-Alai $144,946 $137,778 $101,196

It should be noted that the increase in revenue is largely attributed to the longer hours at each property and not a rake increase. Poker rooms can now stay open as long as 18 hours on weekdays and 24 hours on weekends. Prior to the law change, they could only stay open 12 hours a day.

“The biggest factor for us has been the increase in hours,” said Mike Smith, Director of Poker Operations for The Isle Casino and Racing. “We probably would’ve have done just as well even if they had not raised the limits. The rake doesn’t really have much to do with it. In fact, we’ve changed our rake process so that it is more favorable to the players.”

The Palm Beach Kennel Club Has 60 Poker TablesOf course, it doesn’t hurt that the increase in limits has attracted more clientele. “Numbers are up across the board,” said Tim Wright, Poker Room Manager for the Palm Beach Kennel Club, the largest poker room in the state of Florida. “We’re seeing an increase in players, which has obviously translated into increased revenue for other areas of the property, such as food and beverage.”

Properties which experienced a slight decrease in revenue cited their proximity to 24-hour Seminole gaming. The Seminole tribe is using the bump in limits to attract high end customers who will spend more at their resorts and play blackjack in their pits.

The Seminoles operate seven casinos in cities such as Okeechobee, Clewiston, Coconut Creek, Hollywood, and Immokalee. Their two biggest properties were acquired in late 2006, when the tribe spent $965 million on the Hard Rock Cafe, including hotels and two casinos located in Hollywood and Tampa.

In August, the World Poker Tour announced that it was bringing a $10,000 main event to the Hard Rock Casinos in Florida. The tournament will take place in late April and will rotate between the two properties for at least the next five years.

Florida is now a prime target for many of the leading poker tours operating in the United States. Rumors have been circulating that both the World Series of Poker Circuit and PokerStars North American Poker Tour will be announcing new stops in the near future.

While Florida legislators legalized penny ante poker in 1989, they capped all pots at $10. The laws would loosen up a little over the years, but it never went as far as most serious poker players would’ve liked.

In 1996, state-licensed pari-mutuel facilities were allowed to begin spreading poker games with the $10 cap. In 2003, a new law passed that scrapped the $10 cap, but still forced the max bet in any action to be only $2. In 2007, no-limit hold’em was finally introduced, but with the $100 max buy-in, even for games as high as $5-$10. It wasn’t until July that the caps were lifted entirely.