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Online Gambling in Florida

Online gambling is not legal in Florida. Although there is no specific law addressing online gambling, however the gambling statute in section 849.08 states:

"Whoever plays or engages in any game at cards, keno, roulette, faro, or other game of chance, at any place, by any device whatever, for money or other things of value, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree."

In 2021, the Seminole tribe signed a compact with the state permitting mobile sports betting. The tribe also launched the Hard Rock Sportsbook app, which lasted for 34 days before a federal judge ruled it out for IGRA violation. If the compact had gone through without a hitch, it would have been the bedrock of online gambling in Florida. Hopefully, online sportsbooks may become legal by 2025.

How to Gamble in the Sunshine State

Although the fate of online gambling is uncertain, you can still take part in casino games via local establishments. The Seminole Tribe has about six casino properties, while the Miccosukee Tribe has one establishment that offers gaming products and services. In addition to the Tribal casinos, there are card rooms, racetracks, and racinos across the state where in-person gambling is permitted. 

Before you can play at these retail casino establishments, you have to be located in the state and have reached 21 years of age. Here are the various retail casinos where you can experience the best gambling adventure in the state.

  • Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa 
  • Seminole Casino Coconut Creek 
  • Seminole Classic Casino 
  • Seminole Casino Brighton 
  • Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood 
  • Seminole Casino Immokalee 
  • Victory Casino Cruises 
  • Miccosukee Resort and Gaming Center 

Gambling in Florida

The thrill of winning a game of chance with little effort makes gambling a favorite pastime for many individuals. With the advent of online gambling platforms, punters can now wager at their convenience without visiting designated gambling houses. However, for Florida residents, there seem to be some discontinuities that obstruct the gambling rhythm in the state.

Online gambling in the Sunshine State is in a grey area. Residents are unclear about its legal status because the law does not explicitly permit it, and it is ever-changing. However, individuals, organizations, and the state government seem to have some personal interest in gambling.

Tribal casinos were introduced in the late 1980s. They initially started by offering slot machines, table games, etc. currently, Florida has about seven casinos, with six of them controlled by the tribe. In addition, gamblers were able to play poker in card rooms. Interestingly, gamblers can also take advantage of social casinos and sweepstakes.

Regardless of whether you're a fan of iGaming or in-person casinos, knowing the gambling standards of a region is crucial. Are you visiting Florida soon, or perhaps you are a resident? Our detailed guide will provide relevant information on the state of online gambling, legal products, and services in the Sunshine state.  

Overview of Gambling in Florida

Florida is the home of Hollywood, Disney World, exotic seasides, and other tourist attractions. But it does not rank high as a top gambling state because of its limited number of casinos, vague laws, and gambling ordinances. Currently, there are no online platforms for residents to play casino games.

Seven tribal Casinos, twenty-six Racinos, and one Casino Ship make up the state's gambling market. The Seminole Tribe owns six out of the seven casinos, while the Miccosukee Tribe operates the last one. The Seminole casinos offer Class III or Vegas-style games to punters and are given the sole responsibility of offering this product in the state. In contrast, the Miccosukee tribe displays traditional Class II games in their casino.

Racinos are facilities that offer pari-mutuel gaming and cardroom poker services. Unlike the casinos, which are only on tribal lands, they spread across the state. The new compact signed in 2021 permits the Tribe to sign deals with the pari-mutuel operators to offer products. Casino Ships sail players to international waters where betting restrictions are lax. Here, they offer wagers on varied games.

Florida Gambling Laws

Gambling laws regulate the gambling activities of a state. In the U.S, every state has the authority to make ordinances that control land-based and online gambling in their region. For example, the Florida gambling laws are written in three Florida statutes.

Gambling in chapter 849 under Crime (Title XLVI) addresses rulings on keeping a gambling house, gambling by a juvenile, and penny-ante games. Prohibition decrees on Chain Letters, Pyramid clubs, slot machines, and printing lottery tickets are also stated. Again, Gambling by Charitable Organisation, and confiscation of property violating the gambling statutes, are outlined.

Pari-mutuel wagering is in chapter 550 under Regulation Of Trade, Commerce, Investments, And Solicitations (Title XXXIII). This chapter oversees betting on horses, greyhounds, jai alai, and licenses for operating a pari-mutuel facility. Also, the duties of the Division of Pari-mutuel Wagering of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation are outlined.

Penalties for conducting unapproved races, using medication to win races, etc., are stated. The tasks and authority of the Compact committee and the voting conditions also make up the pari-mutuel wagering law. This chapter has an amendment following a 70 percent vote by citizens in favor of banning dog racing in the state. 

State Lottery laws dictate the purpose and functions of the lottery department, prohibition of adolescent participation, and penalty for the illegal sale of tickets. Also, Yearly review of financial reports, public education funding through revenues, etc. The state lotteries law occupies chapter 24 under Executive Branch (Title IV)

The statutes mentioned above apply only to non-tribal licensed operators. The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, authorized by the U.S. Congress in 1988, legislates the tribal operators. However, the Seminole tribe signed a "compact" with the state legislature allowing the tribe to offer Class III games. In return, the tribe pays revenues to the state.

History of Florida Gambling Laws

Gambling was illegal in Florida until 1931 when the state passed legislation permitting horse and greyhound racing.

  • 1935 - Slot machines and jai alai became legal
  • 1937 - Ruling on Slot machines revoked
  • 1970 - Bingo becomes lawful
  • 1979 - The Seminole Tribe bingo halls legalized
  • 1981 - Penny-ante poker becomes legal
  • 1986 - Voters endorse the legalization of lottery
  • 1996 - Poker permitted in existing pari-mutuel establishments 
  • 2004 - Slot machines become lawful again
  • 2007 - Legalization of No-limit Texas Hold'em. Stakes in pari-mutuel establishments increased to $5. Poker contests with higher wagers are allowed.
  • 2010 - The state and the Seminole tribe sign a compact 
  • 2017 - The state and the Seminole tribe signed a new compact after the expiration of the old one
  • 2018 - Banning live greyhound racing
  • 2021 - A new compact permits exclusive rights to offer sports betting and casinos to the Seminole Tribe. But, a federal court struck it down, citing a breach in the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.

Legal Gambling Activities in Florida

Lottery

Florida is one of the biggest consumers of lottery ticket sales in America. In essence, the lottery is legal. The state has operated the lottery agency since January 1986. It offers local and multi-state games like Powerball, Cash4Life, and Mega Millions. Adults over 18 years can buy lottery tickets from the 13,000 retailers across the state. Punters cannot buy or subscribe for tickets online. 

Cardroom Poker

Over 400 poker tables at licensed racinos and Indian casinos are spread across the state. Poker has undergone different legal changes since its introduction into Florida in 1996. In 2003, the state increased the pot limit from its initial $10 and augmented the playing hours. Four years later, the state introduced No-limit Texas hold 'em and Poker Tournaments with bigger bets.

Social Gambling

Floridians can gamble at home if they do not want to visit a gaming facility. But, the game must be "penny-ante," i.e., lower-stakes poker. Winning must not exceed $10 per player or round. Also, the participants will use a player's house or rental home as a venue for the game.

Charitable Gambling

Charities and non-profit organizations organize live bingo games to raise funds for a community project. But, there are certain restrictions to it, such as it being hosted twice weekly. 

Horse Racing

Bets on horses have been in existence in Florida since 1931. It is one of the biggest betting entertainment in the state, but in recent years, its popularity has waned. Visit a pari-mutuel facility to wager on inter-tracks and off-track horse racing.

Jai Alai

Spanish-originated jai alai is the fastest ball sport in the world. Florida legalized jai alai in 1934, but it has been in existence in the state since 1924. Today, the game is near-extinction in Florida, and only a few pari-mutuel facilities offer wagers on the sport.

Casino Games

The Seminole and Miccosukee tribes operate the casinos in Florida. The tribes offer players a variety of slots, baccarat, and blackjack games. However, craps and roulette are illegal in the state and are not played in these casinos.

Florida Gambling Governing Body

The Florida Gambling industry has tribal and non-tribal/commercial operators.

The Florida Gaming Control Commission 

The Florida Gaming Control Commission (FGCC) regulates commercial establishments. FGCC works under the Department of Business and Professional Regulations. The Department of Legal Affairs Office of the Attorney General established FGCC in 2021 with the following functions:

  • To regulate authorized gambling, including slot machine establishments, pari-mutuel wagering, and card rooms.
  • To relegate unlawful breaches of state gaming laws to the state attorney.
  • To inspect all issues about the Division of Pari-mutuel Wagering under the DBPR.
  • To supervise the gambling treaty under the Federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.

Seminole Tribal Gaming Commission

In October 2014, the Seminole Indian operators became self-regulated. According to the IGRA (1988), tribes can become self-regulatory if they meet the requirements of IGRA, NIGC, and tribal laws. The Tribal gaming commission has the following duties:

  • Issuance of gaming permits to operators
  • Supervises the tribal casinos under the IGRA and tribal rules
  • Publishing news releases, yearly reports, self-regulation certifications, etc.
  • Make annual repayment to the state at the expense of supervising the activities of the State Compliance Agency.

Florida Lottery Agency

The state operates the Florida lottery, and the Secretary of the Department of Lottery heads the agency. The secretary has the power to create bureaus and assign responsibilities to them. Among the offices is the security division which ensures that the integrity of the lottery is upheld.

The lottery department handles:

  • Overseeing and conducting the operation of the lottery.
  • Presenting monthly and yearly reports to the appropriate authorities.
  • Keeping weekly records of all lottery tax transactions.
  • Demanding a stipulated amount from aspiring vendors to run their application process.
  • Ensuring availability of tickets for each game to the public by entering contracts with retailers.

Legal Operators vs. Illegal Operators of Online Gambling

Internet gaming offers you a distinct level of euphoria at your convenience. However, the thrill may turn sour if you do not use the services of the right kind of operator. Website reviews ensure punters stay clear of illegal sites and have an excellent gambling experience. Thousands of gambling sites exist online. However, only a handful ensure that you're safe while betting. So before you sign up with an online betting site, take note of these:

  • License and Regulation: a good betting site is duly certified and regulated by a verifiable gaming authority. Internet gaming sites must have a watchdog that ensures they remain fair to the public. Before you get lost in the excitement of the welcome bonus, check if the site has a license to operate in the preferred territory. If gambling is illegal in your region, looking for a licensed operator would be unnecessary because there won't be any.
  • Security: A good gambling site should have good protection to ensure players are not ripped off their hard-earned money. For instance, the technology innovation has brought about the SSL encryption software, a sound firewall system. Additionally, players should avoid sharing personal and bank information if they are unsure of the platform's security.

With the above criteria, you would be gambling at a safe and secure operator. Playing at a legal online casino is the safest way to go about your online gaming adventure. However, we do not recommend any offshore casinos for several crucial reasons. For example, illegal offshore sites are not regulated or supervised. As a result, most punters lose their money playing on such sites.

Offshore illegal operators understand that punters love freebies. So they create unimaginable and huge bonus offers to lure gamblers into their trap. Sometimes, due to lack of proper Regulation, players get ridiculous wagering requirements before getting their winnings. Such trends are not found with legal operators. You can be sure that the state has its eyes on every online casino via its commission.

Although land-based casinos may seem antique to some, it is currently the safest place to gamble the moment due to the several legal roadblocks affecting online gambling, and playing in offshore casinos is risky. Thus, it is best to enjoy the games at your favorite in-person casinos while we expect an overturn of the court ruling.

All brick-and-mortar gambling sites in Florida are legal and regulated by different gambling commissions. Thus, they ensure that your bets are safe and secure. Also, gaming is more fun when playing with other punters in front of a cheering audience.

FAQs

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Robert is responsible for all content on BettingGuide US. Robert previously worked as a poker dealer during his college years at MIT where he studied Computational Science and Engineering. With a great interest in gambling, Robert likes to go in-depth when writing so that you can make a wiser choice when choosing an operator.

Last updated: 6/2/2022