Blackjack and Online Gambling Could be Effected by Florida Elections

Yesterday Florida hosted their primary elections for the upcoming November general election. Up for grabs in the general election will be a seat in the Senate and the governor’s chair. And the winners of both could have a big impact on the future of blackjack in the state of Florida and on online gambling for the nation.

Naturally the Republican and Democrat split can be also put like this: anti-gambling and pro-gambling.

The Republican candidate for governor is Rick Scott, who is not in favor of expanding the casino offerings in Florida. This could mean that when the five year blackjack exclusivity in the Seminole compact expires, Scott might not allow for further negotiations, possibly pulling blackjack out from under the Seminoles. He could also pull back the extended hours and higher limit on poker that pari-mutuels now have.

On the other side is Alex Sink, the Democrat candidate. Overall, the Democrats have a more liberal view of gambling within Florida, seeing it as a source of income and an addition to the tourist industry, which has been down—it seems that Disney is monetarily out of reach for some families and that Harry Potter is not drawing as much tourism as expected.

And there is a third governor candidate—Charlie Crist is running in the Independent party. And after his battle with state lawmakers over the Seminole compact we all know what his stance on blackjack and casinos in that state is. Maybe next time he will be able to definitely send the money to Education.

Let’s not forget the Senate race. This comes down to Marco Rubio, Republican, and Kendrick Meek, Democrat. And this race could have an impact on the future of legalizing online gambling and regulating it.

Rubio is strongly against online gambling. However, Meek, being a Democrat could vote in favor of Rep. Barney Frank’s bill to repeal UIGEA and set up a structure of regulating online gambling in the U.S. If Frank has to table his bill until next year, the Florida Senate seat will have an impact on what is looking like a close race to approve Frank’s bill.

Those in favor of online gambling and Floridian blackjack players will be keeping an eye on the upcoming November Florida general election.

Blackjack Origins

Every now and then it is good to take a step back and appreciate where something came from. Like a birthday—you celebrate where you came from once a year.

This is not a birthday post for blackjack, but more of an appreciation. Kind of like when you go to a museum or paid attention in history class to a lesson that you liked. Not everyone knows where blackjack game from, what its history is. Studying a casino game is one thing, but true appreciation comes from knowing the game. And that includes its history. So today we are going to take a look at the history of blackjack.

I know that Captain Jack Sparrow liked to blame things on the French. But in this case blaming the French for blackjack is a nice thing indeed.

While blackjack has a bit of a murky past—seems no one really kept track of things like we do today—but the most agree that blackjack originated in France from a couple of other card games: Chemin de Fer and French Ferme.

Wherever and however it actually came about, we do know that I was showing up in French casinos in the 1700s. At least that is when it was first documented as being somewhere. In the French casinos it was then called Vingt et Un, which is French for 21.

At some point 21 crossed the Atlantic and made it to the United States in the 1800s as that is when it was first document as being played here. In the western U.S. gambling—and blackjack—was legal between the 1850s and 1910.

In 1910 casino games and gambling were declared felonies. But in 1931 Nevada had a change of heart and made gambling and casino games legal again. And that is when blackjack began to reign as one of the most popular casino games.

The 1980s brought blackjack to Atlantic City. And it has continued to spread from there. Twenty states now have legalized gambling with more doing so as they are drawn to the money that could be made from taxes to fill in their budget holes. In addition there are seventy Native American casinos spread out around the United States as well.

Blackjack has come a long way since it first showed up in French casinos in the 1700s.

Barney Frank, a Step Closer to Legalizing Online Gambling

Barney Frank’s bill, HR2267, which would legalize and regulate online gambling in the United States, is taking a step forward. And hopefully this means that we are one step closer to being able to play online blackjack in the States.

Tomorrow, July 27th, HR2267 moves into markup. When a bill is in markup it is discussed, amended and rewritten if necessary. In the case of HR2267 it is intended to find ways to appease those who are opposed to it. But the point of the bill is still to regulate online gambling.

If Frank can get HR2267 to pass in the House and Senate, and get it signed into law, every state would be able to choose if they would like to regulate online gambling in their state. Having regulated online gambling not only would legalize it for US citizens, and bring in much need revenue on both the state and federal levels.

How much money?

Well the Joint Committee on Taxation has figured that by legalizing online gambling and regulating it that could make about $42 billion for the government over the course of ten years. As for the states, they would be looking at about $30 billion going into their coffers.

And I do not know of a state that does not need the revenue.

But first HR2267 must overcome its opposition. It seems that the most opposition comes from religious conservatives who feel that online gambling would corrupt Americans. In response Republican Congressman John Campbell had this to say:

“I don’t gamble. I don’t partake in it, but freedom is not about legislating what I like to do. Freedom is about allowing Americans to do what they want to do.”

And in that statement, Campbell hits it on the head. Professional poker player Annie Duke was right behind Campbell, saying, “HR2267 provides this freedom in a safe and regulated environment and I urge everyone on this Committee to support this common sense policy. However, you feel about gambling on the internet, I would suggest that gambling with freedom is far more risky.”

Hopefully HR2267 on legalizing online gambling and regulating it can be moved through markup by Frank and on to the House. Americans want to play their blackjack, poker, slots and more online, and with this country being founded on freedom, why should Americans be told how to spend their entertainment money.

Attracting New Players to Play Blackjack

Blackjack is a well established casino game. The reason for this is because this is an easy to learn casino game, and it has the reputation of being beatable. But along with these positives about blackjack new players are not as easy to come by as you might think.

Casinos of late seem to be focused on their bottom lines. It is all about bringing in the money. Especially with the economy being in that state it is. As a result some pretty awful house rules have sprung up and table minimums have been raised.

Nowadays you walk into a casino and mind the blackjack minimum on a game in which the dealer can hit soft 17 is $25. No new player or a person who is thinking of learning the game will pony up $25 to learn to play. Those would be some very expensive lessons.

But all those high rollers who are out at the blackjack tables are not going to be around forever. Eventually the house rules will get to the point of ridiculousness that those blackjack players hop over to online casinos to play—which would be a boon to the United States if lawmakers remove their personal feelings about gambling, put the needs of the country first and legalize online gambling.

Or the high rolling blackjack players will keep playing until they die. But since the younger new players were too intimidated by high table minimums and shoddy house rules to learn how to play blackjack, there will be no one to replace the high rollers who have gone to the great blackjack table in the sky.

What are some of the things that casinos could do to make it a little easier for new blackjack players to learn the game? Here is a list:

Offer blackjack lessons. In the evening. Most people work during the day so obviously they cannot make a morning blackjack class. Blackjack class is not an acceptable reason to call out of work. Evening blackjack lessons would allow for more new blackjack players to learn the game.

Put a learners’ table out on the floor. Designate it as a special table with either funny money or a very low minimum so that new blackjack players feel comfortable in making the wagers necessary to get the playing experience they need to move up to higher table limits.

These tables should have a friendly dealer who conducts the rounds at a slower pace and answers questions about blackjack rules. The point here is to let players learn how to play the game, not try to squeeze money out of them. If the casinos really desire to squeeze money out of players, wait until they know how to play the game and are comfortable playing with higher limits.

And will someone get these new blackjack players some basic strategy cards please!

Casinos seem to believe that blackjack is beatable and that they should not encourage new players out of fear that they will lose money to blackjack players. However, few players have the drive and discipline to put in the effort to truly beat the game. Casinos will still make their money off of blackjack players.

More Blackjack for Pennsylvania

On Thursday of last week three brick and mortar casinos in western Pennsylvania opened the blackjack tables, drawing patrons away from the long haul drive to Atlantic City to enjoy some blackjack.

Unfortunately for Atlantic City the run of Pennsylvania casinos is not at an end yet. This past Tuesday, July 13th, saw the opening of blackjack tables in three eastern Pennsylvania casinos.

Blackjack players all over Pennsylvania are very excited with the addition of their favorite casino game in six casinos. This follows months of back and forth political arguments earlier this year about whether or not the State would allow table games like blackjack, roulette and craps to be added to their game offerings. But the demand was there and the income to the State in gaming taxes was needed. Everyone wins. Well, except for Atlantic City.

For decades Atlantic City was the mecca of East Coast gambling in the United States. But with the down turn in the economy and a lack of funds trickling down the government hill, states began looking at other ways to bring in money.

Pennsylvania is not the only state to look to gambling. Florida recently settled a long standing dispute with the Seminole tribe about blackjack there. Florida will be making $1.5 billion over the next five years from their deal with the Seminoles.

But with the addition of blackjack to the casino games at the Rivers, Meadows and Presque Isle Downs casinos in western Pennsylvania and the Mohegan Sun, Mount Airy and Hollywood casinos in eastern Pennsylvania could spell even more trouble for Atlantic City.

Not only will the time-honored East Coast gambling destination be competing with these six improved casinos next door, they might also be competing against online gambling. New Jersey is looking at legalizing online gambling for New Jersey residents that would make the competition even greater for Atlantic City.

While Pennsylvania blackjack players are quite happy with the new table games in six of their casinos, we shall have to see how Atlantic City fares over the next few years. Will it be able to keep itself afloat or will it sink in the ocean that is the gambling industry.

Seminole Compact Takes Effect

It is July 1st and that means one thing for the Seminole Tribe. Well, okay, it means two things but as a blackjack player I am really only concerned about one of those things.

The Seminole compact that took a Tolkien amount of time to be agreed upon is now in effect. This means that blackjack tables are now legal in five of the seven Seminole casinos. Of those five brick and mortar casinos, three are located in Broward County, one in Immokalee and the fifth casino can be found in Tampa.

The debate on whether the Seminoles would be allowed to have blackjack tables had been an ongoing since 2007 when Governor Charlie Crist signed a compact with them that would allow them blackjack at all seven of their casinos. State legislature quickly said that was not legal.

Ever since the blackjack tables were alternately called legal and illegal. This past May the Seminoles, Crist and state legislatures finally came to an agreement: the Seminoles would be allowed exclusivity on blackjack with five casinos being allowed the tables. The Seminoles will also have a twenty year exclusivity on Vegas style slot machines. In exchange the Seminoles will be playing $1.5 million over five years.

Now if the deal is broken by pari-mutuels being allowed blackjack in less than five years or Vegas style slot machines in less than twenty years, the respective portion of the Seminoles’ payment to the state will cease.

Naturally the pari-mutuels were not pleased. As a result they will have higher limit poker tables, later hours of operation and some breaks when it comes to the taxes they are paying to the state.

This is definitely a good day in terms of casino news. So Florida blackjack players go celebrate the Seminoles’ success by playing a few rounds at one of the five casinos. Not a Floridian? Pack your bags, visit Disney and then hope over to Tampa and enjoy the blackjack!

Rhode Island Blackjack Hits Another Snag

Lawmakers in Rhode Island are certainly taking their time in deciding what to do with a bill about expanding the gambling offerings in two slot parlors. The two slot parlors are the Newport Grand and the Twin River in Lincoln.

The bill would allow for gambling expansion, which includes adding blackjack tables. But it seems that either lawmakers are a bit intimidated by blackjack, or there simply are not a lot of blackjack players in Rhode Island.

The bill would allow the state to determine how many blackjack tables there would be, their placement, their rules and odds, and to collect receipts from blackjack.

In 2006 citizens were allowed to vote on an amendment that would allow the Narragansett Indian Tribe to become partners with Harrah, and open a casino in West Warwick. The citizens voted no.

So lawmakers are aware that Rhode Island citizens are not crazy about the idea of having full casinos within their state. However, the state is hurting for money like a good number of states. And like those states, the lawmakers are eyeing revenue from legalized gambling to fill in some of the holes in the budget.

But lawmakers are not being too nasty about this and trying to force this through. There have been several revisions of the bill since it was first voted on. And for once the lawmakers are being considerate. They are going to have another review before voting.

But some citizens are not happy even with the lawmakers taking time to review the bill again. Barry Flynn, a resident of Newport, referred to the lawmakers as “petulant children.” All because the state is looking for ways to try to fill in the budget holes so that the state does not have to fire state employees and cut programs.

Seems to me that the citizens should calm down and wait to see what the lawmakers say after reviewing the bill again. They may find issue with it themselves this time. It seems to me that some of these citizens are behaving like petulant children, judging before actually seeing what Rhode Island lawmakers are thinking of doing.

Hopefully an agreement can be reached and blackjack can be brought to Rhode Island. After all, the state needs money, and blackjack in acasino would be a fun way for the state to pull some in.

Will New Jersey have Online Blackjack?

Even if the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) now in effect California and Florida have been looking into making online gambling legal within their states for state residents. They are looking into it mostly as another source of income, which is much needed.

But while California has been going round and round in talks with tribes in their state, and Florida has been going back and forth with the Seminoles, New Jersey has snuck in under the radar.

On Thursday a bill, proposed by Senator Ray Lesniak, that would regulate online gambling within the state for New Jersey residents passed a committee vote 3-1. With the bill passed it can now go to the entire Senate for discussion and hopefully a vote that will allow for online gambling in New Jersey.

The way the bill works is to allow licensed casinos the ability to create sites online that allow for gambling online. Casinos must be licensed because without that license, according to federal law, they would not be allowed to offer online gambling. But since casinos in Atlantic City are licensed…well, you see where I am going with this.

Should this bill be passed into law, New Jersey would be the first state in the U.S. to have regulated online gambling. It is estimated that this could bring in $45 to $55 million in revenue. It could also give new life to the casinos in Atlantic City who have been struggling along the last couple of years. These casinos could be looking at around $250 million in new revenue by having regulated online gambling from their casinos.

As for the residents of New Jersey, they would be the first U.S. citizens to legally be allowed to gamble online. This means that online blackjack could very well be a reality for fans of blackjack in New Jersey.

UIGEA Implemented Today

Well, it is the beginning of June. And that means that the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) is now in effect.

But really do not expect things to change for those who play in online casinos and gamble online. The actual implementation and action of UIGEA does not rest on the shoulders of those of us who play blackjack online, or slots online, or poker or any other online casino game. That is correct. The UIGEA does not actually focus enforcement on the players.

Rather the enforcement and implementation rests in the hands of financial institutions, such as banks and credit card companies. Under UIGEA banks and credit card companies are the ones responsible for stopping all transactions to and from online casinos.

And that is why those who play online casino games will probably not be as affected by the UIGEA as they might think. See, online casinos are on the clever side. They use coding so that banks and credit card companies will not recognize that the funds to or from an online casino will not be recognized.

The UIGEA says, in short, that banks, credit card companies and other financial institutions cannot knowingly process transactions to or from online casinos. But if, thanks to the coding used by online casinos, banks and credit card companies do not recognize that the transactions are going to and from online casinos then they will not be able to stop them. And because they are not knowingly processing the transactions, it makes them ‘not guilty.’

Take MasterCard for instance. A few months ago MasterCard quit processing transactions in which players were trying use their cards to make deposits to an online casino. However, players are still able to make deposits to their playing accounts. This is because MasterCard does not know that these transactions are to an online casino because of the coding online casinos are using.

So I am not saying that the UIGEA does not change anything, we will certainly see its impact, the UIGEA will probably not have the effect that lawmakers had intended.

So we can all hope that Rep. Barney Frank will succeed in passing his bill on regulating online gambling. If his bill passes then the UIGEA will be over turned. But we will have to wait as he is waiting. And analysts believe that Frank will now hold off on trying to overturn the UIGEA in hopes that voters will become upset with the UIGEA and vote in against the Republicans in November. Until then it seems that we will have to watch ourselves with our online gambling.

New Jersey Might Be First State to Regulate Online Gambling

New Jersey is one of the leading regulators of the brick and mortar casino industry. So it isn’t any surprise that those in the U.S. are eyeing them as the potential first to regulate online gambling for their state.

In fact, there are two bills in the state’s Senate and Assembly. And they both have bipartisan support too.

What these two bills are aiming to do is allow brick and mortar casinos the chance to apply for licenses to operate some online gambling services, which are to include online blackjack.

The way the bills are structured is that brick and mortar casinos that would like to add online gambling services to their casinos games would have to pay a $200,000 licensing fee for the first year. This would be followed by $100,000 renewal fee every year thereafter, as well as having the profits from online gambling games taxed 20%.

There are those that are opposed to these bills, saying that by legalizing and regulating online gambling within New Jersey the amount of people addicted to gambling will increase. However, to address these concerns, the two bills also have in them that $100,000 each year will be put into programs to prevent gambling addictions and to help those with gambling addictions.

You have to love a bill that wants to legalize online gambling and is still concerning itself with gambling addiction.

Recently California tried to put through a bill that would legalize online gambling in their state, but was met with opposition from tribes in the state. The bill never passed.

New Jersey has a more favorable chance of getting their bills passed because they don’t have any tribes within their state that are recognized by the federal government.

We’ll have to sit back and see how this one plays out. But here’s to hoping that New Jersey can get these bills passed and be the first state to legalize online gambling. Perhaps if the federal government sees states beginning to legalizing online gambling, they’ll work on it themselves.