Gambling in Florida has been legal in various forms since 1931, but what’s available continues to be as diverse as the state of more than 21 million.
Tribal casinos came to Florida in the late 1980s, offering table games and slot machines. There are currently seven such casinos – six operated by the Seminole Tribe of Florida – which comprise all of the standalone venues not associated with horse or former dog tracks.
Poker in Florida is legal in card rooms.
Online gambling in Florida is not authorized, but residents can take advantage of sweepstakes or social casinos, where they can play slots or poker for prizes instead of money.
Additionally, some casino-style gambling is available on small day-cruise boats once out in international waters and Princess Cruises will offer larger casinos and sports betting on the ocean liners.
Sports betting could be coming in 2021 or 2022 – barring legal challenges and federal hurdles – after the state and Seminole Tribe of Florida agreed to a new compact that included the pastime.
Florida has not legalized online gambling. State law is vague, and does not address internet gambling at all. Though this is a legal gray area, there are no legal online casinos in Florida. Police actively pursue and shut down unauthorized gambling sites in the state. A provision in a 2021 compact would have allowed the Seminole Tribe of Florida to negotiate to offer online casino gambling in Florida, but the controversial addition was stricken before the Florida Legislature considered the document in a special session.
No. Online casino gambling is not legal in Florida and not addressed in state law. The same is true of daily fantasy sports. Though social casino and DFS are popular, online casino is considered illegal and actively shut down by law enforcement. Social and sweepstakes casino games are not considered gambling.
In 1991, the state Attorney General argued that it was illegal, but Florida has not followed up with any action.
In Florida, the options for social gaming are similar to other states, with Chumba Casino, Luckyland Slots, and Global Poker available.
In social casinos, players can enjoy many of their favorite casino games – like slots, blackjack and video poker – and win real cash prizes without actually gambling. That’s because this format has players redeem “sweeps” coins won playing online against their friends – then they collect real cash prizes.
The Seminole Tribe also has a social casino site.
Real money online casinos require players to deposit money into a gaming platform, which they will use to wager on various games. That is considered gambling and is not legal in Florida.
In social or sweepstakes online casinos, players purchase virtual currency, often in the form of “gold coins,” for play, but that currency cannot be redeemed for real money. Entering contests is free.
Entries into sweepstakes are made with sweeps coins, which have no inherent value. Sweeps coins won as prizes can be redeemed for real cash prizes.
Then there’s MyVegas, which is the MGM Resorts site. MyVegas is notable because of its system for awarding real, redeemable comps to players. Although Floridians would have to travel to redeem these comps, real rewards can still be obtained without cost.
Like online casinos, online slot play is not permitted by state law. However, social games like Chumba allow sweepstakes slots. Until real money online gambling is legalized in Florida, these types of games are the only options.
The expansion of gambling has for the last several years focused on the possible advent of legal sports betting in Florida – including online. That it allowed in the new 30-year C0mpact agreed to in 2021. Some of the same factors that made legalizing sports wagering a tricky proposition pertain to bringing online gambling to Florida, particularly the Seminole Tribe of Florida.
The group, which owns and operates six casinos in the state, has a virtual monopoly on casino-style gambling – now including of roulette and craps – and would want to be a major player in Florida both sports betting and online casino since founding Hard Rock Digital late in 2020. The Seminoles, who own Hard Rock International, want to use the new digital arm to expand their sports betting and iGaming reach globally. That certainly would include their home state.
A quick Internet search for Florida online casino options will reveal a laundry list of websites seeking your business. They look legitimate. That’s the idea. But, they are not legal.
Geolocation technology prevents reputable online casino companies from allowing players from outside the jurisdictions where they are regulated. Therefore, only offshore, unregulated platforms, companies that are not guaranteed to pay you winnings or allow you to withdraw funds are available to Floridians. It is not legal in Florida to play these sites. Social and sweepstakes will often look similar, but if they ask for a deposit, it’s a no-go.
Online gaming in Florida is illegal, but if legalized, it would probably fall under the auspices of the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulations.
Currently, the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulations Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering regulates:
In addition, Broward and Miami-Dade counties authorize slot machine gaming at pari-mutuel facilities called “racinos.’ Tribal gaming is regulated separately from the state through a contract with the government that is called a Compact.
Each year the state Department of the Lottery sets out a regulatory plan for the lottery’s activities.
It seems clear that a new regulator is required for sports betting. Under the bills that have been brought before the State Senate, the regulator would be part of the Department of the Lottery, and the lottery would be the final authority for the issue of licenses.
Regulating online sports betting is a major change from anything Florida gaming regulators have undertaken. The lottery will have to recruit new staff skilled in the problems of online gambling and sports betting in particular.
|Permitted/Offered?||Notes & Restrictions|
|Land-based Gambling||Yes||Restricted to tribal lands and cruises|
|Online Gambling||No||Expected to be offered soon – favorable legislative environment|
|Lottery||Yes||State lottery, Mega Millions and Powerball offered|
|Charitable or House-based Gambling||Yes||Bingo only|
|Minimum Gambling Age||21 for casino gambling, both online and live; 18 for horseracing|
Adults can play poker in Florida at 18, but all the sports betting bills introduced – and those for iGaming – would put the age limit at 21 and up, which is in line with the vast majority of other states.
All seven of the casinos in the state of Florida are owned and operated by tribes, six of those by Seminole Gaming.
Florida’s interwoven relationship with several tribes – particularly the Seminole tribe — has allowed for the expansion of gaming in Florida. And, unlike other reservation lands, many tribal properties are near or inside major metropolitan areas in the state.
The Seminoles have operated some form of gambling in Florida since 1981 when they began offering bingo at their Tampa-area reservation (one of six reservations in the state). Today, the tribe owns and operates seven different casinos. These include two Seminole Hard Rock locations in Tampa and Hollywood.
In 2009, Gov. Charlie Crist signed a bill into law that relaxed rules on much of gambling, particularly with regard to poker. Those six Seminole casinos, one Miccosukee-run facility, and several casino cruise boats offer slot gamblers more than 25,000 machines and over 750 table games upon which to play.
Additionally, players can find more than 800 Florida poker tables in cardrooms and racinos throughout the state. There are also various so-called “racinos” with limited options at horse and former greyhound tracks.
Florida casinos are allowed to offer craps or roulette if the 2021 Compact is ratified by the Department of the Interior.
|Property||Location||Address & Phone||Number of Slot Machines||Poker|
|Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Tampa||Tampa||5223 Orient Rd, Tampa, FL 33610|
|Seminole Coconut Creek Casino||Coconut Creek||5550 NW 40th St, Coconut Creek, FL 33073|
|Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Hollywood||Hollywood||1 Seminole Way, Davie, FL 33314|
|Miccosukee Resort and Gaming Center||Miami||SW 177th Ave, Miami, FL 33194|
|Seminole Casino Immokalee||Immokalee||506 S 1st St, Immokalee, FL 34142|
|Seminole Classic Casino||Hollywood||4150 N State Rd 7, Hollywood, FL 33021|
|Seminole Casino – Brighton||Okeechobee||17735 Reservation Rd, Okeechobee, FL 34974|
According to its website, the Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling “was established in 1988 as a gaming neutral educational and advocacy corporation that serves as the designated authority under state contract on gambling addiction.”
The group’s missions is to:
“Increase public awareness regarding the risks and consequences associated with gambling, provide assistance to problem gamblers, their families, and others adversely impacted and advocate for programs, services, funding, and other supports to address population-specific needs.”
Call 888-ADMIT-IT for help.
Retail casino gambling, pari-mutuel horse racing and an FL state lottery are currently the only legal forms of gambling in Florida. A successful constitutional amendment in 2018 was written to curtail further expansion of gambling in the state by putting any growth to a state-wide vote.
In a very diverse demographic state split nearly evenly politically, a consensus is difficult on almost anything, much less gambling.
Amendment 3 stated:
“This amendment ensures that Florida voters shall have the exclusive right to decide whether to authorize casino gambling by requiring that in order for casino gambling to be authorized under Florida law, it must be approved by Florida voters pursuant to Article XI, Section 3 of the Florida Constitution. Affects articles X and XI. Defines casino gambling and clarifies that this amendment does not conflict with federal law regarding state/tribal compacts.”
One of the tourist centers of the country, the state teems with tourists and sports fans looking for legal options to bet on the many Super Bowls, college bowl and spring training games held in Florida.
Passing a sports betting bill was contentious, but Gov. Ron DeSantis hammered out a new deal with the Seminoles that passed both houses, despite numerous misgivings from legislators who support gambling, overall.
Wagering in the state began with dog and horse racing, followed by jai alai, all in the 1930s. Whereas horse racing remains not only an important part of the economy, but to Florida gambling, jai alai is quickly fading into oblivion and voters chose to outlaw greyhound racing beginning in 2021, turning such storied venues as Derby Lane in St. Petersburg into card rooms. So-called racinos are located within race tracks across the state, also offer these gambling amenities.