The history of state-sanctioned gambling in Florida dates back to 1931 when local legislators legalized on-site betting on dog and horse racing as well as jai alai. Nowadays, most facilities that offer these services also host slots and even poker rooms. Additionally, the Sunshine State houses independent bingo halls and card rooms that offer competitive poker.
Tribal gambling was introduced to Florida with the federal Indian Regulatory Gaming Act of 1988. The local tribes established eight casinos that host legal slots and table games. Seven of these casinos are operated by the Seminole tribe, and the eighth is owned by the Miccosukee tribe. The Florida Lottery has a monopoly on lottery games. Charitable gambling is allowed.
Florida legislators haven’t moved to legalize online gambling yet, although this may change soon. The local gambling industry has experienced steady growth over the past few years, generating over $300 million in annual revenue to the state, giving local politicians have an excellent reason to allow casino operators to expand to the internet. Such a move would be unlikely to generate any public backlash; however, most state representatives are skeptical about disrupting the status quo.
On the other hand, the Seminole tribe does not seem interested in sports betting legalization. According to Gary Bitner, the tribe’s spokesman, this form of gambling isn’t being considered by the Seminoles due to unspecified “legal and legislative hurdles.”
Gambling within the borders of the Sunshine State is covered by Florida Statutes 849.01 et seq. and 550.001 et seq. The minimum gambling age is 21 for casino games and 18 for lottery games, horse racing, dog racing, bingo, jai alai, and poker.
Florida Casino Laws
In Florida, land-based casino games are available exclusively at racetracks and tribal casinos – independent card rooms are prohibited from offering slots or even table card games that are played against the house. Five out of eight tribal casinos offer 1,000+ slots. These gambling establishments are located in Tampa, Coconut Creek, Hollywood, Miami, and Immokalee.
Residents don’t have access to any regulated internet casinos, and it’s way too early to speculate which iGaming companies would be interested in launching Florida-licensed sites if legal internet gambling became a reality. As it stands, law-abiding Florida-based iGaming fans are stuck with social sites.
Offshore casino platforms tend to accept Florida residents, but playing real money games is a violation of Florida’s gambling laws, which define gambling as “playing or engaging in any card game or game of chance, at any place, by any device, for money or another thing of value.”
Florida Poker Laws
Florida is full of land-based card rooms and is considered a major US poker hotspot. Unfortunately, local fans don’t have access to any state-sanctioned sites that would allow them to take their hobby online. If you want to play poker over the internet in Florida without breaking any laws, your primary option is to join a poker-friendly social gaming platform, such as Zynga. The alternative is to use offshore poker rooms, but that could put you in legal jeopardy as these platforms’ legal status is the same as that of offshore casino sites.
Florida Sports Betting Laws
Betting on traditional sports is still illegal in Florida, and the idea of introducing this form of gambling to the Sunshine State seems to be facing more resistance than any potential iGaming bill. Betting on dog and horse racing is legal, and both off-track and inter-track wagering is allowed but unavailable over the internet. Florida residents who want to engage in online sports betting can take advantage of offshore sportsbooks, although the legality of this is questionable.
Florida Daily Fantasy Sports Laws
The Daily Fantasy Sports situation in Florida is very unstable. Section 849.14, which defines illegal gambling, does not feature an exemption for games of skill. What’s more, in 1991, Attorney General Robert A. Butterworth issued an official Advisory Legal Opinion which explicitly stated that DFS contests should be considered illegal within the borders of the state.
Nevertheless, both FanDuel and DraftKings offer their services to Florida residents, who are estimated to account for 3-5% of these sites’ user bases. When asked by Forbes, both companies refused to comment on this issue. To further complicate matters, Florida authorities are not looking to turn this into a legal battle at the moment, and local Republicans have been pushing for DFS legalization. Although their attempts haven’t yielded any results so far, they are likely to continue.
This lack of certainty forced Yahoo DFS to withdraw from the Florida market in 2015. Small operators, such as DraftOps and StarsDraft, also play it safe and refuse to accept Florida-based DFS fans.
Florida hosts a state lottery that operates a wide range of draw, scratch-off, and fast play games, although none of them are available online. If you want to play Mega Millions or Powerball in the Sunshine State, you need to visit one of the 13,000+ licensed retailer shops as the official Florida Lottery website serves for information purposes only.
Florida Bingo Laws
Live bingo games in Florida are operated by both charitable organizations and commercial bingo halls, but none of the entities that run them are allowed to make them available online. Bingo sites that accept Florida residents are all operated by offshore companies, the use of which can be risky.
Top Florida Legal Sites
According to Section 848 of the Florida code taking part in unlicensed land-based gambling is a second degree misdemeanor. However, the state does allow home games and doesn’t have any regulations that could be directly applied to online play. Consequently, Florida-based gambling enthusiasts are pretty much free to play on offshore sites, especially since the local authorities aren’t interested in finding a potential loophole that could allow them to prosecute individual players.
Florida Online Gambling FAQ
What types of gambling are available in FL?
Licensed gambling in Florida is predominantly about the local tribal casinos, as there are no commercial gambling establishments located within the borders of the state. Other than that, Florid operates its own lottery and has pari-mutuel horse betting. Charitable gambling is allowed and is fairly popular. Online gambling is the only form of playing for real money that hasn’t been regulated so far.
What laws cover online gambling in FL?
All real money games are regulated by Section 848 of the Florida code. It would be possible to argue that some of those laws apply to playing games of chance over the internet, but the local authorities simply aren’t interested in exploiting a legal loophole to punish individual punters or poker enthusiasts. Despite the fact that offshore sites are fairly popular among Florida residents, no online players have been fined or charged with a misdemeanor so far. In our opinion this is sufficient to consider Florida to be an offshore gambling-friendly state.
Is real money online gambling legal in Florida?
The short answer is yes. The long answer is that it would be theoretically possible to argue that the general land-based gambling regulations apply to online play, but this kind of approach has never been tested by the local law enforcement since the chances of getting an actual conviction are very slim.
Which offshore gambling sites accept Florida residents?
Florida-based gambling enthusiasts are free to join all the US-facing real money iGaming platforms, including Bovada.
What are the most popular banking options supported by Florida-facing sites?
We definitely recommend using a debit card or a credit card and sticking with the most reliable brands, such as Visa and MasterCard. Please note that offshore gambling sites tend to use a different method for cash-outs – in most cases, you’ll receive a traditional bank wire transfer once your request has been processed.
Does Florida offer any intrastate online gambling?
No, unfortunately, Florida doesn’t have any licensed sites that operate exclusively on the intrastate market.
Is it likely for Florida to regulate online gambling?
While various Florida lawmakers have tried pushing for a local iGaming bill, there’s simply no denying the fact that the current Florida governor is opposed to new online gambling-friendly regulations.
FL Gambling Resources
Florida iGaming Expansion Could Come Down to Governor Race – Bluff Magazine: http://www.bluff.com/news/florida-igaming-expansion-could-come-down-to-governor-race-61873/