Florida is home to many forms of legalized gambling. It enjoys a near-monopoly as the states it borders, as well as others in the Deep South, have little or no gaming options.
The forms of legalized gambling available in Florida cover most of the spectrum and include some forms over the Internet. There is even talk of adding more casinos in southern Florida.
The oldest form of gambling in Florida is racing. It is home to more greyhound tracks than any other state. There are 12 dog racing venues, as well as five that specialize in horses. Many tracks also offer Jai-Alai, a rarity in the U.S.. Florida racetracks offer off-track betting parlors. These venues are open outside of racing season.
Racetrack Gambling Games
In addition to betting on races, tracks may offer card games. This includes player-to-player poker and house-banked games that use cards. Pai Gow Poker, Ultimate Texas Hold’em, Three Card Poker, Four Card Poker and Casino War, referred to as One Card Poker. Due to Florida law, are all spread in card clubs.
Florida voters approved a state lottery on November 4, 1986. It was the first of its kind in the South. It became the most successful in history overnight. The Florida Lottery started out with only scratch-off tickets. In-state and interstate lotto drawings were later added. Tickets are only sold at retailers. They may not be purchased over the Internet.
There are casinos located throughout Florida. Most are located on Seminole tribal land. Seminole casinos hold an exclusive right to offer blackjack, craps and roulette. Seminole casinos also spread house-banked poker games, live poker, slots and video poker.
Part of the Seminole’s exclusivity agreement does not apply to Dade and Broward County. These casinos may offer slots, video poker, live poker and electronic table games. Most of these casinos are located in or near Fort Lauderdale and Miami.
The Seminoles and charities are permitted to offer bingo. It is not permitted in any commercial form outside of these venues.
Florida Internet Gambling
There is only one form of explicitly legal online betting in Florida. It involves online horse racing wagers. Sites like TVG and TwinSpires accept Floridians.
Daily fantasy sports sites operate in Florida. There is a debate about whether these sites are legal. Attorney General Robert Butterworth opined that fantasy sports were illegal in 1991. Butterworth felt like the games were betting on a contest of skill, something specifically illegal in Florida. A federal grand jury is investigating the industry at this time in Florida. Most daily fantasy sites, including DraftKings and FanDuel, remain in the Florida market. StarsDraft and Star Fantasy Leagues do not operate in Florida due to these pending issues.
There was an odd version of internet gaming that was once legal. These places of business were known as internet sweepstakes cafes. Customers would buy time on computer terminals. The player would receive free play on casino-style games that not coincidentally equaled the amount paid for the internet access.
These became video poker parlors in the eyes of state lawmakers. There was a campaign funding scandal involving companies and individuals involved in this industry in 2013. This pushed the state legislature to ban the games later that year. The wording of the law also forced some subscription poker and skill game sites to leave the state.
Online gaming works — it’s been licensed in Europe for years, and in the US it’s already licensed in New Jersey, Nevada, and in Delaware. If you are a resident of the fine state of Florida, don’t just sit there — make your voice heard.