Card Room at Tampa Bay Downs to Add to Purse Fund

Purses at Tampa Bay Downs should receive a boost this year with the opening of a new card room that will contribute 47% of net proceeds to the track's purse fund.

The card room's opening, which will come upon the start of the Tampa Bay Downs live meeting Dec. 13, coincides with state legislation passed in August. The new law removed a stipulation that required Thoroughbred tracks to choose between offering customers either simulcast wagering or card rooms.

Racetracks in Florida can now operate card rooms from noon until midnight on live racing days. Officials at Calder Race Course and Gulfstream Park were not immediately available to comment on any plans they may have to add card rooms.

In addition to the purse contributions, the Florida breeders' fund will receive 3% of net proceeds from the card room.

The card room at Tampa Bay Downs will be located on the second floor of the newly renovated "Silks Card Room." It will have 14 tables and will feature a variety of games, including Texas Hold Em' and Seven Card Stud.

Other changes made to card room rules effect pots, which had been limited to $10 in the past. The state's Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering has estimated pot sizes, with a new per-bet limit of $2, could grow to a maximum of $200 depending on the type of card game and the number of rounds of play.

The division estimates the total card room gross receipts for the state may increase from a projected $3.1 million to approximately $10.5 million.