The history of brick and mortar casinos in Florida goes back to the years of the Great Depression. Today, America’s Sunshine State has nearly 150 casinos, spanning from the panhandle to the southernmost tip of the mainland, and everywhere in between. What was once known solely for its beautiful beaches and tourist attractions, Florida is quickly evolving into a mecca of gambling never before seen this far south of the Mason-Dixon line.
The following few sections will delve much deeper into the inner-workings of Florida’s many casinos.
Florida Online Casinos
The Florida Code states that taking part in unlicensed gambling activities is a second-degree misdemeanor, but fortunately this doesn’t seem to extend to playing for real money over the internet. The local authorities have never tried prosecuting individual customers of offshore gambling sites, so the issue of the legal status of iGaming in Florida has never been tackled by a local court. All things considered, most experts agree that playing on offshore poker, casino, and sports betting sites is 100% safe in Florida, at least for the time being.
Choosing the right site is one of the most important decisions that you’ll have to make before you start enjoying your favorite games in an online environment. In most cases, the best course of action is to go for the platform that attracts the highest traffic.
This is particularly important for poker enthusiasts, as the amount of active players determines the quality of cash games and tournament prize pools. If you’re looking for a casino or sportsbook, choosing a large, reputable site also has a number of benefits, as usually, you’ll get more games, better bonuses, or better prices than in the case of smaller sites.
The United States has seen several changes when it comes to gambling, in particular, online gambling. Today, the United States Department of Justice enables gambling and online gambling to be regulated at the state level and believe it or not states other than Nevada and New Jersey have taken advantage of their ability to allow gambling.
In 2006, The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act deemed it illegal for banks to process wire transfers related to online gaming if they are unlawful under both federal and state laws related to online gaming. However, due to this key detail and others within the bill many online casinos are made available to players throughout the United States due to their operations being hosted offshore.
Furthermore, in order for an online casino operator to start in the United States, they need to acquire a license from the state. As of today, Florida’s online gambling market is unregulated. Therefore, the market is loose, to say the least.
Below we’ll discuss major events that have occurred over the years in Florida and what the current state of online gambling looks like today.
Florida Online Gambling
Presently, there is no mentioning of online gambling in any Florida gambling laws. Meaning it is legal to participate in online gambling in the state of Florida. As you can imagine this is subject to controversy due to the gray area online gaming operates in. To better understand that current state of regulation let’s take a look at key events throughout history.
In 1932, the state first legalized pari-mutuel gambling to help stimulate the struggling state economy during the 30’s. But by the end of the decade slots were first legalized and then outlawed and no longer available in the state of Florida.
By 1979, The Seminole Native American tribe built their first bingo hall on their reservation and attained almost instant success. There was a major legal backlash to attempt to shut it down but to this day Native American casinos still operate in Florida.
In 2004, Miami-Dade and Broward counties legalized slot machines and this not only helped the Native American establishments but spurred further growth and new casino properties in and around Miami.
Six years later in 2010, state law was passed to allow no-limit poker to be played in casinos and gambling in the state started to become even more popular.
By 2013, a key piece of legislation passed pertaining to online casinos and gaming as Internet cafes were banned from allowing online gambling. At the time Internet cafes were important to online gaming as they were operating as fronts for gaming. But even more important the bill was written so broadly that many in the press, various lawyers and officials maintain that the bill states any networked machine or device used for gambling could violate the law and subject to charges for a second-degree misdemeanor. Therefore, an argument can be made that computers at public libraries could be liable for misuse and even personal property such as desktops, smartphones, etc. are classified as network devices when connected to the Internet.
Since the law in 2013 was enacted over 1,000 Internet cafes in Florida have closed or been shut down due to violations. But despite the aforementioned wording and gray area, there are still online casinos (mainly offshore) willing to accept players from Florida and many residents who actively gamble online.
There is no known case in Florida where a resident has been charged with a crime related participating in online gambling, including online poker. It can most likely be attributed to the discrepancy pertaining to the definition of devices, but also it can be argued that the state has more important matters to pursue. Seeking out players who wager on online blackjack games doesn’t seem like the number one priority for law enforcement officials in Florida.
If land-based casinos aren’t your preference or easily accessible and/or you prefer to play online as a resident of Florida, you are most likely going to remain in the clear. It is recommended that you be mindful of further legislative developments if and when they occur. However, if history is any indication the state government in Florida doesn’t seem too concerned with online gamblers. You should perhaps shift your focus to ensuring you are utilizing a trustworthy offshore casino and not risking your money by gaming on unregulated sites.
Online Casino Operations in Florida
Until there is a clear path in place for online casino operators to obtain a license from the state residents of Florida who wish to operate an online casino are subject to charges related to illegal gambling operations.
If you play online in Florida chances are you are playing on a casino powered by Real Time Gaming (RTG) as they are well-known for their presence in the American online gaming market.
It is recommended that you check out Bovada, BetOnline or Slots.lv as these are generally regarded as trustworthy offshore online casinos and are currently accepting players based in Florida. Other viable online casino options include Lucky Red Casino, Club World Casino, Las Vegas USA Casino, Manhattan Slots, Aladdin’s Gold Casino and High Noon Casino.
Online Sportsbooks in Florida
Much like offshore casinos, Florida does not have any legislation in place that prohibits its residents from accessing offshore sportsbooks. Thus, as a Florida resident, you will not be legally punished for participating in sports betting through offshore sites. It is recommended to check out the sportsbooks on Bovada, BetOnline, Sportsbetting.ag, and 5Dimes Sportsbook.
Online Poker in Florida
In 2011, state representative Joseph Abruzzo introduced a bill that would regulate online poker games and websites throughout the state. Per the bill and Abruzzo, Florida was poised to receive 10% of all revenue generated via online poker. Unfortunately, the bill was never passed in 2011 as it died in the Senate Criminal Justice Committee.
But Abruzzo would later try again in 2012. This time The Seminole Tribe voiced heavy resistance to the bill as they most likely feared it would compete with their interest in the gaming market, particularly due to their land-based casino presence, as they represent the largest Native American gambling interest in the state. Yet again Florida failed to pass official legislation to regulate online poker and as of today little has changed.
Again, just as the technicalities and vagueness apply to online gambling, in general, the same rules apply to online poker. Since no prosecution has occurred and no legal precedent has been set Florida residents can, in fact, register and partake on US-facing poker websites.
Sites such as Lock Poker, Carbon Poker, Bovada, Sportsbetting.ag, and BetOnline all attract and accept online poker players from Florida.
It is strongly recommended to be mindful of the sites you choose to sign up for and play on as a Florida resident, or US-resident in general for that matter. Make sure you research and ensure the site is not going to compromise your money.
Regarding any legal implications, as the evidence suggests it is clear that the state of Florida is not concerned with residents gambling online, playing online poker, or wagering on sports online. Especially if the sites adhere to the law, are based offshore, and are able to accept US-based players.
It seems widely accepted that there is no major concern with residents who choose to participate in online gambling and therefore it can be said with confidence that until further regulation is introduced or current law is put to the test you can play with confidence.
Casinos in Florida
Every casino in Florida, along with its associated Floridian city, is listed as follows:
Calder Casino & Race Course-Miami Gardens
Casino Miami Jai-Alai-Miami
Creek Entertainment Gretna-Gretna
Dania Jai-Alai-Dania Beach
Daytona Beach Kennel Club and Poker Room-Daytona Beach
Derby Lane-St. Petersburg
Ebro greyhound Track-Ebro
Flagler Dog Track and Magic City Casino-Miami
Fort Pierce Jai-Alai & Poker-Fort Pierce
Gulfstream Park Racing and Casino-Hallandale Beach
Hamilton Jai-Alai and Poker-Jasper
Hialeah Park Race Track-Hialeah
Jacksonville Kennel Club-Orange Park
Jefferson County Kennel Club-Monticello
Mardi Gras Casino-Hallandale Beach
Melbourne Greyhound Park-Melbourne
Miccosukee Resort and Gaming Center-Miami
Naples/Fort Meyers Greyhound Track-Bonita Springs
Ocala Poker & Jai-Alai-Ocala
Orange Park Kennel Club-Orange Park
Palm Beach Kennel Club-West Palm Beach
Pensacola Greyhound Track-Pensacola
Pompano Park-Pompano Beach
Sarasota Kennel Club-Sarasota
Seminole Casino Big Cyprus-Clewiston
Seminole Casino Immokalee-Immokalee
Seminole Coconut Creek Casino-Coconut Creek
Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Hollywood-Hollywood
Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Tampa-Tampa
Tampa Bay Downs-Tampa
Tampa Greyhound Track-Tampa
Victory Casino Cruises-Cape Canaveral
Gambling in Florida
Much like in Connecticut, land-based gambling in The Sunshine State is pretty much all about the local tribal gambling establishments. You won’t find any commercial casinos or card rooms in The Sunshine State, but that shouldn’t stop you from enjoying your favorite slots and table games in a live casino environment.
Other than that, Florida offers pari-mutuel horse race betting and operates its own lottery. Online lottery ticket sales aren’t allowed and the bill that was supposed to introduce them died in the Senate Committee in 2014.
The state doesn’t have any regulated iGaming sites, so most of the local online gambling enthusiasts rely on offshore casinos, poker rooms and sportsbooks that accept US-based customers.
Casinos in Florida tend to fit neatly into 2 distinct categories, racinos and Native American casinos. Racinos dominate Florida’s casino offering, making up more than 3/4s of the total casinos in the state.
Florida currently bans the operation of casinos outside of Native-American reservations. In 1988, the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act was passed, granting class two gambling licenses to all Native-American tribes within the US. Since then, several popular casinos have been established in Florida, such as:
- The Hard Rock Hotel and Casino located in Tampa
- The Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Hollywood located in Hollywood
- Seminole Casino Brighton located in Okeechobee
- Miccosukee Resort and Gaming located in Miami
- The Big Cypress Casino located in Clewiston
Both of the Hard Rock Hotel and Casinos are operated by the Seminole tribe and are the two largest gambling establishments in Florida. The Miccosukee tribe lacks the gambling compacts that the Seminole own, and as a result, are only allowed to operate class two games (slot machines and keno).
Players may gamble on card games such as Blackjack and poker, but traditional table games like Craps and Roulette are not permitted. To play the full range of table games, players must board a boat which sails out to international waters. Once outside of Florida’s jurisdiction, wagering on games of chance becomes legal. Popular ports for the cruises-to-nowhere include:
- Fort Lauderdale
Racinos are, as you might have guessed, greyhound courses or horse tracks that are accompanied by gambling facilities such as slots, blackjack, and/or poker. Because every racino is different, some may only offer slot play while others will give off the look and feel of the casinos you would find in larger gambling destinations such as Atlantic City or Las Vegas.
Florida Native American Casinos
The other predominant type of casino found in Florida are those owned and operated by Native American tribes. Casinos like Seminole Casino Hollywood are owned by a particular Native American tribe and are situated on their reservation. Because Indian reservations are treated as their own sovereign regions, the law of Florida which prevented casinos did not stop the Native Americans from constructing their own.
A lot of the Native American casinos in existence in Florida today are similar to the resort casinos you will find lining the Las Vegas strip. Equipped with a casino, hotel, spa, restaurants, shops, and other attractions, Native American casinos tend to blow the socks off of the racinos that make up a majority of Floridian gambling destinations.
Florida Cruise Ships with Casinos
The last type of Floridian casino is the casino cruise. On boats that are really nothing more than floating casinos, gamblers will be taken out to sea where the law of the land has no say in whether they gamble or not. For cruises on Florida’s west coast, gamblers will be taken 9 miles out into the Gulf of Mexico while cruises on Florida’s east coast need to only travel 3 miles out into the Atlantic Ocean. These cruise casinos have all the table games and slots you would expect to find at any casino, floating or otherwise.
Flordia Sportsbooks & Sports Betting
Even though the US Supreme Court recently ruled in favor of sports betting legalization on a state-by-state basis, the chances of sports betting coming to Florida are low. The Native-American tribes currently hold gaming compacts with the state, which would be rendered void if sports gaming became legal.
In November 2018, the citizens of Florida will vote on amendment 3, which would modify the way gambling is defined in the state constitution. If passed, the general populace will gain the ability to build momentum on the legalization of sports gambling.
Even if everybody in the Sunshine State supported sports gambling today, it would take until 2020 before the needed legislation could be implemented.
eSports and fantasy gambling
Florida law does not differentiate between wagers made on electronic sports (eSports) and traditional sports. As a result, eSports gambling is currently illegal in the state.
Since 2015, Florida legislators have made several big pushes to legalize daily fantasy sports (DFS) gambling. The most recent attempt took the form of Senate Bill 840, which has yet to make it past the Conference Committee. One of the biggest challenges Florida faces with DFS gaming is whether to classify it as gambling. Legislators haven’t figured out a way to work around the explicit punishments defined in the Florida gambling laws on illegal gambling and bookmaking. Many hope that if voters successfully pass Amendment 3, they will then vote on an amendment legalizing DFS gambling.
Florida permits gambling on horse racing. Players may only place pari-mutuel wagers on thoroughbred races, quarter horse races, and harness races. These wagers can be made both off-track and inter-track.
Thoroughbred racing is the most popular form of horse racing in Florida, and the state boasts some of the best thoroughbred racing tracks in the country, namely:
- The Calder Race Course located in Miami
- Gulfstream Park located in Hallandale
- The Tampa Bay Downs located in Tampa Bay
Additional horse racing tracks can be found in:
- Hallandale Beach
- Miami Gardens
- Pompano Beach
Any race track with a greyhound permit may host dog races. Similarly to horse race gaming, pari-mutuel wagers can be made both off-track and inter-track.
Poker Games in Florida
In 2010, the $2 maximum poker bet rule was eradicated, clearing the path for most Native-American casinos to host serious live poker tables. Popular poker rooms in Florida include:
- The Big Easy Casino located in Hallandale
- Creek Entertainment Gretna
- The Daytona Beach Racing and Card Club
- The Ebro Poker Room
Social gambling is allowed as long as the poker game uses penny-ante style wagering that does not exceed $10. Poker games of this nature must be hosted in a private residence.
Florida currently runs an in-state lottery, which offers popular games such as:
- Pick 2, 3, 4, and 5
- Fantasy 5
- Lucky Money
- Florida Lotto
The Sunshine State also allows a variety of multi-state lotteries, including:
- Mega Millions
Half of the prize is awarded to the lottery winner, 39% of the money pool goes to Florida in the form of state taxes, and the remaining amount is claimed by lottery operators. All lottery proceeds gathered by Florida go to the state public education fund, which is used primarily for the construction and maintenance of schools. Lottery prizes over $600 may be subject to garnishment if the winner is delinquent on their taxes or owes child support. Winners must claim their prize within 180 days or forfeit it.
Florida Bingo Games
Charitable organizations that qualify for exemption from federal income taxes may host charity gaming events. Any organization that runs an illegal bingo operation with jackpots over $250 is convicted of a first-degree misdemeanor.
The Seminole tribes opened a high-stakes bingo hall in 1979, which still operates today and offers large bingo prize pools. Several other popular bingo parlors exist in Florida, including:
History of Florida Casinos
The history of Florida casinos can be linked directly to the grip the Great Depression had on the United States during the early 1930s. In 1932, the state of Florida legalized pari-mutuel betting in a large part of the state as a way of driving up revenue during a time when revenues were mostly drying up. This move was quickly followed in 1935 by the legalization of slot machines, a law that would eventually be repealed in 1973.
1979 marked the first year in which Indian bingo halls were legalized, a move that would see many Floridian Indian tribes turn to gambling as a way of bringing in revenue. Even today, most casinos in Florida are owned and operated by a variety of different Native American tribes.
In the 1980s, many Floridians circumvented the lack of traditional brick and mortar casinos by hitching a cruise on the many gambling vessels dotting the state’s ports. These cruises served the sole purpose of taking passengers out to sea and allowing them to freely gamble before returning to port a few hours or days later. Cruises like this still exist today and are a fun, interesting way to gamble.
Despite the state of Florida having a large gambling presence by the 1970s, state voters shot down measures to legalize casino gambling in 1978, 1986, and again in 1994. Ten years after the 1994 gambling legalization bill was shot down, Florida voters finally said yes to the legalization of casinos. Today, Florida is ranked the state with the 4th largest casino offering in the United States. Casinos can be found in every region of the state and are being built with increasing frequency.
Florida Gambling Rules & Facts
Before going to Florida and gambling, there are a few rules worth mentioning. For one, the gambling age changes depending on what type of gambling you would like to do.
-Due to the wording of Florida gaming law, betting on the result of a trial is treated as illegal.
-Illegal gambling outside of a tribal reservation is considered a second-degree misdemeanor, while any bookmaking is a third-degree felony.
-Florida residents may own and operate a slot machine within their home as long as the machine was manufactured 20+ years ago.
– If you are 18, playing poker is acceptable, but putting coins into a slot machine and pulling the reel is not.
– Games like blackjack and roulette also require you to be 21 before you can place a wager.
– As is the case for almost all of the United States, Florida’s drinking age is 21.
– With regards to sports betting, it is not allowed in Florida casinos, though it is available, in abundance, on the many casino cruises offered all year long.
Florida Online Gambling FAQ
How Do I Get Started?
Most Florida-friendly operators won’t require you to be physically present inside the state, so all you need to do is visit the site that you want to play on, click on the registration button and fill out a simple form by entering some basic personal information. Please note that making a real money deposit will require you to pass a simple identity check. If you want to make a deposit once your account has been validated, simply open the cashier menu, pick the banking method that you’d like to use and finalize your payment.
How Do I Get My Money if I Win?
The funds tied to your gambling account remain at your disposal, so you’re essentially free to withdraw them whenever you want. Requesting a cash-out is as simple as opening the familiar cashier menu, picking the payout method and confirming the transaction. Please note that withdrawal requests usually take up to 24 or 48 hours to process and can be canceled on your request within this timeframe. If you go for a wire transfer, you’re pretty much guaranteed to receive your money within 2 weeks.
What is the minimum age to gamble online in Florida?
18 for offshore sites and all forms of land-based gambling.
How do I open an account?
Visit the site that you’re interested in, fill out a registration form and confirm your identity by submitting a scan or photo of some sort of ID document.
Where can I open my account from?
In most cases, you should be able to register from anywhere in the United States.
From where can I access Florida online gambling sites?
Florida-facing sites can be accessed from anywhere in the united states. Keep in mind that you’re likely to be charged with a felony if you try playing real money games in Washington or Utah and you get caught.
Where can I familiarize myself with the official regulations over gambling in Florida?
Section 848 of Florida Code.
How do I deposit to my online gambling account?
The most common payment method is to use a standard credit card payment, but you can also use cash transfer services, eWallets, and cryptocurrency (bitcoin) to fund your gaming account.
How do I withdraw my winnings?
Most sites support withdrawals via bank wire transfer, check by courier, or cryptocurrency.
Is my money safe?
Yes – if you don’t play on sites with a questionable reputation. All of the Florida gaming sites listed here are 100% trustworthy.