Is it Legal to Gamble in Flordia?

The Sunshine State has gone back and forth in terms of how they regulate the gambling industry. The gambling laws here are ever-changing, as citizens and lawmakers battle each other to push their various agendas. All of this fuzz makes it difficult for the average gambling fan in Florida to stay on top of things.

To help you get a better understanding of the gambling laws in Florida, we’ve put together this overview that contains all the legal stuff that you need to know before you hit the casino floor.

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History of the Gambling Laws in Florida

Only a few states in the US have such a complex and colorful gambling history as Florida. Things have now settled, though, and all gambling activities have succumbed to the law. The state’s land-based gambling landscape is now incredibly well-regulated.

Florida’s casinos go back to the late 1800s when Henry Flagler built the first (illegal) casino at St. Augustine, catering for the high rollers of the day.  But the gambling industry in the state rose to prominence over a one hundred years later, after 2004 when slots were legalized, paving the path for tribal casinos to form.

Here’s a timeline of the significant legal events which have reshaped the gambling industry in Florida.

1888: Henry Flagler opened the first casino in St. Augustine called Bacchus Club Casino.

1920: Boilita, a Cuban number game, became popular in the state. Many gambling establishments are formed to accommodate this, attracting members of the mob.

The 1930s: The Mob controlled a network of illegal gambling houses, speak-easies, and so on. A significant part of the law enforcement was on a payroll.

1935: Slot machines were legalized, but they were banned after a vote two years later.

1978: Voters rejected the referendum on permitting casino establishments to form in Broward and Miami-Dade counties. The same referendum got defeated again in 1986 and 1994.

1979: The Seminole tribe opened its first bingo hall. There were several attempts to close it down, which finally ended with a ruling in the US Court of Appeals.

2004: Broward and Miami-Dade were allowed to open their casinos, and the referendum finally passed after the games were limited to slots. Seminole tribes also got implicit permission to expand their slots offerings. This triggered a boom in the Florida Tribal casinos that we are still witnessing 15 years later.

2010: The lawmakers allowed poker establishments to increase the maximum permitted bet, which was $2 at the time. This decision almost instantly led to a boom in live poker venues throughout Florida.

2013: Internet cafes, which had hosted casino games, were banned. At the same time, the state accidentally banned all phones, computers, and tablet devices, as they can serve as gambling means.

According to the state of Florida, if the chance element is inherent (in a game of chance), it is considered gambling. Betting on skill games is not permitted unless there are specific exemptions under the law stating otherwise. One such example would be the bowling tournaments where hosts are allowed to issue real-money prizes. Furthermore, certain free-to-enter lotteries are also permitted. Poker and card games are allowed as long as they are played with minimal stakes.

Casino games: There are several world-class casinos in Florida, established on Tribal lands. These include Hard Rock Casinos and many more. There’s also an option to go on “cruises to nowhere” and play casino games in international waters, including roulette and craps which are not offered in land-based casinos. Also, you can find slots casinos in Broward and Miami-Dade counties.

Online gambling: Operating web casinos in Florida isn’t permitted, but that doesn’t mean that playing at one is banned. Players from Florida are allowed to play at any online casino they want, provided that the venue accepts customers from Florida. More and more offshore casinos are accepting players from the States, so these should be the first port of call for Florida-based subscribers.

Live poker: Live poker is permitted, and there are several poker rooms associated with racetracks and Tribal casinos. The maximum betting amounts allowed went to $100 in 2018, and since then the poker industry has flourished in Florida. Numerous prestigious poker tournaments are held here, as well as regular cash games. Online poker games are not legal, as these are covered by the 2012 law. The gambling legislation in Florida is broad enough so that games of skill are also included, although there haven’t been any documented cases of arrests for playing poker games.

Sports betting: sports betting is allowed on horse and dog racing, through pari-mutuel machines. Residents from Florida are also able to bet on Jai-Alai — a ball game played in a three-walled court.

Lottery: Lottery is allowed in Florida. Apart from the state lottery, Florida residents can participate in inter-state games such as Powerball.

Bingo: Charity bingo games and raffles are permitted in Florida, and you can also play bingo for more substantial prizes in the Seminole tribal establishments.

Where to Gamble in Florida?

Florida residents can play in one of three available casino types — casino cruises, casinos owned by Indian tribes and pari-mutuel casinos in Broward and Miami-Dade counties. Below, you’ll find information about each type.

Casino Boats

The casino boats in Florida offer gamblers the opportunity to board ships that cruise in international waters where gambling is legal. From the East coast, these boats travel three miles out into the Atlantic Ocean, and from the West Coast, the boats travel nine miles out into the Gulf of Mexico.

Most of the boats offer craps, blackjack, roulette, slots, and video poker. Some boat casinos also offer pai gow poker, mini-baccarat, Caribbean stud poker, three-card poker, let it ride, bingo, big 6 wheel, and sports betting.

The minimum drinking age on all boats is 21. Due to security restrictions, you must present a photo ID at all casino boats, or you will not be allowed to get on board.

Victory Casino Cruises

Victory Casino Cruises is the top-rated option in the region. Known as one of the biggest cruise ships in the US, Victory I cruise casino features luxurious restaurants, bars, and a world-class casino. The ship is packed with gaming across four decks, with room enough to take up to 1,200 passengers out to sea.

Victory Casino Cruises showcases over 600 slot machines and 27 casino games, including live roulette and craps tables, offering the most authentic Las Vegas-style casino experience in Florida. There’s also a sportsbook lounge where you can place bets on football, basketball, and other popular slots.  Players at the casino can earn Reward Points merely for playing slots and casino games, and redeem the points for perks like free food, free drinks, free gifts, and even dollars taken off your final bill.

Pari-Mutuel Casinos

In 2005 and 2008, voters in Broward and Miami-Dade county have passed referendums for allowing slot machines within that county. Apart from slots, South Florida’s pari-mutuel establishments also offer poker. Admission to all casinos is free and they are allowed to be open a maximum of 18 hours per day during the week, and 24 hours during the weekends and some holidays. The minimum gambling age is 18 for pari-mutuel betting, and 21 for gaming machines.

Calder Casino

Located in 21001 NW 27th Ave, Miami Gardens, Calder Casino is a modern casino establishment offering all the latest slots, electronic table games, bingo, and fantastic promotions. More specifically, there are over 1,100 Vegas-style slots on the spacious casino floor, as well as several variants of poker, blackjack, roulette, and bingo. If you sign up for the casino’s loyalty card, you’ll receive $20 of free play money. On top of that, Calder Casino runs over 15 promotions that can further boost your bankroll.

Indian Casinos

The Seminole tribe owns seven of the eight Tribal casinos in Florida, and the eighth is operated by the Miccosukee Tribe’s reservation. The Seminole tribe signed a compact with the state that allows them to offer traditional Class III gaming machines. On top of that, five casinos owned by the tribe are also allowed to offer table games. These include several poker, baccarat, and blackjack variants.

The Miccosukee Tribe didn’t sign a compact with the state, therefore, they are only allowed to offer Class II gaming machines at their casino. Class II video gaming machines look like slot machines, but they are actually bingo games.

Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino

Located on 1 Seminole Way, Hollywood, Seminole Hard Rock is the biggest casino in Florida. This gigantic resort is located only minutes from Fort Lauderdale’s world-famous beach, and features over 450 luxury rooms and suites, award-winning restaurants, a lagoon-style pool, Hard-Rock inspired spa and a premium casino floor. The 30,000 square-foot casino offers guests an extensive selection of over 3,000 slot games, 200 table games, and 45 poker rooms. Featuring live dealers, guests can choose from pai-gow poker, baccarat, casino war, Spanish 21, and Let it Ride.

FAQ

Is gambling legal in Florida?

Most forms of gambling are legal in Florida, including casinos, bingo, lottery, horse and greyhound racing.

What is the minimum gambling age in Florida?

The minimum gambling age for casinos and racing is 21, and 18 for lottery and bingo.

Is daily fantasy sports legal in Florida?

Not according to a 1991 state opinion from the state attorney general. However, several daily fantasy sites dispute this finding.

Is poker legal in Florida?

Yes, it is! Numerous gambling establishments in Florida have poker rooms.

Is there a bet limit in Florida?

No, there isn’t.