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History and Online Gambling Laws in Florida

While it’s an indisputable fact that residents of Florida have gambled in some form or another since the state was founded, gambling legislation only made an appearance in the 1930s. 

In 1931, horse and dog racing were the first forms of legal wagering. They still run today in the form of pari-mutuel betting. By 1935, both jai alai and slot machines joined the ranks of legal gambling, but the law in favor of slot machines was reversed by 1937. 

The gambling front was exceptionally quiet until 1970 when the popular game of bingo was legalized. During this decade, the majority of the Florida electorate was united against casinos. In 1981, several retirees were arrested for running a low-stakes poker game. A second political push to legalize casinos was once again rejected in 1986, but in the same year, the Florida Lottery was born, and it began running in 1988. By this time, the native tribes achieved the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, allowing the Seminole tribe to operate video lottery machines. 

In 1994, a third attempt to legalize high-stakes gambling was rejected. But, by 1994, poker was legalized in a pari-mutuel capacity and with a $10 pot limit. The rules were made more generous in 2003, and were raised to ‘no limits’ by 2010. The following year, in 2004, a constitutional amendment to allow slot machines at pari-mutuel facilities was narrowly approved in Broward and Miami-Dade.

The real game-changer came in 2010, when the then Governor Charlie Crist entered into a compact with the Seminole tribe. This allowed them the exclusive right to operate slot machines and banked card games outside pari-mutuel venues in Broward and Miami-Dade. By 2014, Broward had five casinos, and Miami-Dade had three. 

In 2022, Florida entered into a new Seminole Compact that will replace one previously deemed to be illegal. It became completely approved throughout 2021 and 2022, allowing the Seminole Tribe complete control of sports betting throughout Florida. In addition, the compact allows the tribe to offer craps and roulette at all its casinos, as well as add three casinos on their property in Broward County. 

When Could Online Gambling Become Legal in Florida?

Online gambling is experiencing a lot of stops and starts in Florida. The unusual path to legalization is the result of a divided state. While the government seems keen to set online gambling in motion, they operate on a very narrow majority that’s constantly being challenged by opposition groups. This state of affairs is highly evident with online sports betting. A 2021 compact between the state and the Seminole tribe was signed by the governor. It was filed but not yet finalized. However, operators were allowed to enter the market. Unfortunately, the compact was legally challenged and overturned.

Operators like DraftKings and Hard Rock pulled the plug on their operations, and hefty fines were issued. But the short-lived Floridian online sports betting industry isn’t dead yet. The decision was appealed and, after several months in limbo, it was legalized once again in September 2022. At the time of writing, sportsbook operators are yet to return to Florida.

Land-based and Online Casino Games in Florida

There are several land-based casinos in Florida, but they’re all operated by Indian Tribes. More accurately, the Seminole Tribe operates all but one of the land-based casinos scattered across two counties. The only remaining land-based casino is run by the Miccosukee Tribe, who appear to have happily taken only a very small piece of the gambling pie. These casinos offer every form of gambling entertainment you can think of, with Vegas-style entertainment made up of slots, poker rooms, and table games like roulette, blackjack, and baccarat

Gambling online brings a whole new set of challenges. It’s not regulated by the state of Florida, so residents are not technically allowed to play games for real money online. Of course, several offshore sites target players from Florida and it’s very easy to set up and fund an account. Doing so is entirely at the player’s own risk, although the state of Florida tends to go after operators and not players. The fact that you probably won’t get caught isn’t a great reason to break the law. 

Florida Online Slots

Technically, slot games are only legally allowed in tribal casinos throughout the counties of Broward and Miami-Dade. At these establishments, you’ll find a range of exciting video slots and jackpots to try your luck on. 

If online slots are what you’re after, your only legal recourse is to pay a visit to a social casino where you can spin the reels in exchange for virtual coins and tokens. You won’t be able to gamble real money, but you will have the opportunity to pick up exciting prizes and enter tournaments that sometimes offer real cash rewards.

Online Poker in Florida

Florida has been very clear about the fact that they don’t regulate or authorize online poker in any way. On the other hand, land-based poker is all the rage. Almost every casino in the state has card rooms and poker tables hosting Texas Hold’Em, Omaha, Three-Card, and every other style of game. Florida also legalized no-limit poker

Back in 2012, there was a push for legalizing online poker sites, but not enough lawmakers were in favor of the change. This was supported by land-based casino owners who are always loath to share their monopoly on the gambling market. 

Florida Lottery

The Florida Lottery was established in 1986, and has been a popular part of Floridian gambling culture ever since. Initially, the standard draw games were the only type of games available, but great demand fed the need to add more variety. Games like Cashpop, Fantasy 5, and Jackpot Triple Play enjoyed lots of popularity, and soon scratch cards were introduced to offer an instant win option

In 2013, the Florida Lottery joined the Multi-State Lottery Association and began offering Powerball, Mega Millions, and, later in 2017, Cash4Life. With its healthy stream of revenue, the lottery is a great supporter of charitable causes and educational scholarships.

Roulette in Florida

Roulette is available at pretty much every land-based casino in Florida. You’ll find both American and French styles, as well as multiple bet limits to suit all betting strategies. What you can’t do is play roulette online for real money. Florida holds a pretty black-and-white position when it comes to its stance on online roulette - and it’s not welcoming.

 Instead, Floridians can legally seek out social casinos which host roulette games and play for fun. But don’t worry, ‘fun’ doesn’t mean ‘without rewards’, and you’ll be in with a chance to win special prizes with every spin. Check out our list of recommended sites above.

Online Blackjack in Florida

The situation with blackjack is very much identical to that of roulette. They’re both welcome to be played for real money in Florida’s land-based casinos, but there’s no legal precedent to playing online blackjack for real money. Many of the casinos in Florida have over 200 table games on offer, so you won’t be left out in the cold if you’re looking for a seat at a blackjack table. 

If you’re unwilling to travel, a social casino is the next best thing. Look out for one that offers blackjack games and put your best strategy to the test for rewards and coin wins.

Live Dealer Games in Florida

Live dealer or live casino games are streamed in real-time straight to your device from gaming studios. If you’re based in Florida and don’t plan to relocate any time soon, you’re unlikely to experience live dealer games legally. Until Florida opens its doors to online casinos, games that are strictly in the domain of these sites will be banned

Currently, there’s no such thing as a social live casino, which really takes the last option off the table. Should Florida have a change of heart and welcome online casino gambling, the excitement of live gaming on the go will finally be open to state residents.

Can You Bet on Sports and DFS in Florida?

There’s a huge distinction between daily fantasy sports (DFS) and sports betting, particularly with regard to how they’re approached by the law. While both require a legal structure, DFS is far less regulated, with several states allowing residents to engage with these games with far less concern than in full-blown sports betting.

In Florida, the legality of DFS is murky, while sports betting has been through the wringer and is only now becoming properly embedded in the state. It’s not entirely clear why fantasy sports get a much easier time than sports betting, but it might have something to do with the fact that fewer people would be interested in DFS over sports betting.

Daily Fantasy Sports Betting in Florida

Okay, so here’s the only time the Floridian law gets a little grey. Even though major DFS operators like DraftKings, FanDuel, Yahoo Daily Fantasy Sports, and Underdog allow players from Florida to sign up, the legality of it all isn’t completely certain. Florida is silent on the matter of DFS. Technically speaking, since there’s no mention of it in the gambling regulations, it’s probably not allowed. 

That being said, many players choose to take this silence as tacit acceptance. This blase attitude stems from the fact that Florida only goes after operators, leaving individuals to play in peace. Whether or not this makes it worth the risk is entirely up to you.

Horse Betting in Florida

Horse betting has a long history in Florida, and was the very first wagering method legally allowed in the state. Today, it remains a thriving industry - one of the largest in the country in fact. While Florida racing doesn’t closely rival New York or Kentucky, the state still hosts prestigious events like the Pegasus World Cup and the Florida Derby. Wagers can be placed live at the race tracks, or at one of Florida’s many pari-mutuel venues.

If you prefer to sort everything out online, then you can also check out dedicated Floridian betting sites like TVG Facebook, AmWager or DRF Bets.

Which Online Sportsbooks Will Launch in Florida?

This is only a partial guess. Since Florida already had a brief stint where sportsbooks were operating in the state, we can get a great idea as to which bookies are interested in the market. BetMGM and DraftKings were the two biggest operators to offer their services. Unfortunately, they were badly burned financially when Florida repealed the law allowing them to be there in the first place. 

Now that the state is reinstating the legal operation of sportsbooks, our hope is that the industry giants will return, but there’s no guarantee that they haven’t permanently written off the experience as a bad one.

What Sports Can I Bet On When Florida Legalizes Sports Gambling?

The year 2023 might very well be the year Florida has an online sports betting industry that’s here to stay. Hopes were raised in 2021 when betting giants like BetMGM and DraftKings started operating in the state, offering competitive odds on all kinds of sports and college teams. However, the dream was short-lived and the operators were forced out when the legal bill was repealed. 

Now that it’s been reinstated, Florida can look forward to the return of sports betting, but it’s unclear which operators will be back the second time around. Whichever ones take up their place in the newly regulated state, there’s no doubt they;ll be offering odds on all the top sports like the NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL. Sites will also allow bettors to wager on college football and college basketball, hockey, rugby, cricket, and so much more.

Deposit and Withdrawal Methods in Florida Gambling Sites

Since Florida doesn’t yet allow online casinos, and sports betting sites are still ironing out the last few details, it’s impossible to predict exactly what payment options will be available. However, we can take a look at the legal horse betting sites and popular payment methods in general to make an educated guess at what will be available.

  • Credit and debit cards like Visa, MasterCard and Discover. These are a solid option if you don’t want to use an intermediary eWallet, or if you prefer to use credit.
  • Bank wire or bank transfer. This usually takes a little longer and you should watch out for any associated fees.
  • Prepaid cards. Some sites will have branded prepaid cards, which come in handy if your bank doesn’t transact with betting sites.
  • Online banking directly to your gaming account. This is an easy way to track your transactions online.
  • BetCash. This allows you to use your checking account to withdraw your winnings.
  • PayNearMe. This allows you to fund your account by using cash when you visit a CVS, Family Dollar or 7-Eleven and follow the easy steps.
  • PayPal or Play+ (or some other eWallet). Using digital wallets are a super quick way to cash in and cash out on your betting account. 

Gambling and Betting Bonuses in Florida

If you’re looking to pick up promotions, your two options are on pari-mutuel betting sites or at social casinos. Florida’s land-based casinos are unlikely to offer bonuses in the traditional sense, but you’re likely to pick up a few benefits if you’re a regular. Standard bonuses available to Floridians usually include welcome offers offering match bonuses, risk-free bets (often up to $200), and even cashback offers where you get a percentage of your non-winning bets back. 

If you’re playing at social casinos, then special offers are likely to revolve around free coin wins, entries into competitions, and access to special tournaments with real prizes. Whichever bonus or promotion you choose, always take a very close look at the terms and conditions to make sure you’re absolutely clear about what you’re signing up for.

Who Regulates Casinos in Florida?

The Casino Regulatory Body that focuses on all gambling-related matters is the Florida Division of Consumer Services. 

The Future of Betting and Gambling in Florida

To a certain extent, Florida is working towards a regulated gambling landscape, but it’s proving a challenging prospect. That’s largely because there’s an exceptionally strong anti-casino movement that frequently lobbies the government in attempts to block legal amendments and water down existing gambling allowances. They’ve been successful for several decades, even halting the original bill to legalize sports betting. 

Today, the Seminole Tribe has succeeded in winning its case in favor of online and in-person sportsbooks in the state. So, while it appears that sports betting will be in place and thriving by the end of 2023, online casinos don’t currently share the same path. Considering the strong sway that the local tribes hold within Florida, it’s unlikely that an online casino license will pass muster any time soon. It is possible that the land-based casinos will eventually launch an online presence, but this is a lengthy process in itself. 

Florida Online Gambling FAQ

Is it legal to gamble on sports in Florida?

As of 2022, it officially became legal to gamble on sports in-person and online in Florida. While the law is confirmed, the operators have yet to start offering their services to residents, so it looks more likely to be 2023 when the full infrastructure is up and running.

Can online gambling eventually become legal in Florida?

While the day has finally dawned for online sportsbooks, online casinos remain firmly illegal. Several attempts to legalize them in the past have failed, and there’s no hint of the issue being revisited any time soon.

Is it legal for a US resident to gamble online?

That would depend on what state the resident finds himself in. States like New Jersey are very open to all kinds of online gambling, while states like Colorado and Florida restrict online gambling to sports betting only. Other states in the US don’t allow any kind of online gambling at all.

Can you gamble at any type of online casino in Florida?

Online casinos are completely illegal in Florida, but social casinos are allowed. You’ll be able to access the casino experience on the go, without risking any of your funds.

Where can I gamble in Florida?

Gambling in Florida is restricted to two counties - Miami-Dade County and Broward County. Once you’re in either of these locations, you’ll need to seek out land-based casinos set on tribal land. The majority of Floridian casinos are managed by the Seminole Tribe,

When will online gambling be legal in Florida?

That’s a tough question to answer, because making things like online gambling legal generally requires changes to amendments and complex licensing structures. These things are loaded with red tape and bureaucracy, taking years to resolve. Florida is already half-way there, having legalized online sports betting, but there’s still a lot of work ahead if online casinos should ever be legalized too.

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Loren Oller
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I consider myself to be an avid guitar player, sports enthusiast, and a big fan of blackjack and social casinos. My task is pretty easy to resume.. make sure you are well informed on all US casinos that might interest you. I've been writing reviews based on my experiences for a while and I'm happy to say that my work will truly help you even if it's just by telling you the legal gambling laws of a state or the top games that are trending right now!

Reviewed by Julia Attard

Senior Author With experience in content management, Julia is passionate about creating content for the English-speaking gaming markets of CasinoTopsOnline. When she isn’t working, you’ll find Julia reading a book on the beach, watching sports or baking something in the kitchen! Read More
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