Florida is home to numerous betting options both online and in the real world. Legal online gaming in Florida now includes horse racing betting, greyhound betting and everyday fantasy sports. In the physical realm, Florida has horse racing betting, bingo, traditional casinos and jai alai betting.
Sports gambling in Florida does not appear likely at the moment. The country has long been eyed as a major potential market for sport betting, but changes to state law have made any upcoming gaming expansions harder as they currently take a statewide referendum initiated by petition.
Legal Online Betting Options
Let’s start with a fast collection of authorized Florida gaming websites and then dig into all the details below.
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Horse and Greyhound Betting:
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Horse and Greyhound Racing
Online horse racing and greyhound gambling are legal in Florida for decades and a variety of major racing websites accept clients from the Sunshine State. BetAmerica, TwinSpires and TVG all accept Florida customers and are licensed directly here in the United States.
In November 2018, Florida voters approved Amendment 13 to end greyhound racing. The change made greyhound racing and betting on live greyhound races held in Florida illegal beginning on January 1st, 2021.
Present racetracks will nevertheless be permitted to provide poker and other games after the change takes effect, however they’ll no longer be able to sponsor live greyhound races. This amendment has no impact on internet greyhound racing, which will remain legal because the change only seeks to stop wagers put on races held at the country.
The legal problem for fantasy sports in Florida is complicated and uncertain, but many daily fantasy websites have served the state for years with no hindrance from officials.
Multiple attempts to officially legalize dream sports in Florida have failed over the years due to disputes on how the action should be categorized and the intricacy of tribal gambling contracts between the state and the Seminole Tribe of Florida.
A 1991 Attorney General opinion lumped season-long dream sports in with gambling and opined that it is most likely illegal under state law, but the view is obsolete and doesn’t maintain legal weight. Just as lawmakers want to clarify the legal status of fantasy sports, progress has been slow. In the meantime, Florida residents are accepted at both FanDuel and DraftKings:
Florida gambling law allows games of ability only if entry fees do not directly contribute to the prize pool. This means is that it is legal to pay an entrance fee and compete for a set prize, but not to perform at a competition where all the entrance fees are accumulated to form the prize pool itself.
For example, it would be lawful to host a paid-entry golf championship if the organizers place fixed prizes which do not change no matter the number of people enter the tournament. The exact same tournament would cross the line into illegal territory if prizes were decided by pooling entrance charges and paying the winners a proportion of the prize pool.
A 1990 comment from the Attorney General summed it up as follows:
«Thus, I am of the opinion that a contest of skill, such as a hole-in-one golf competition, in which the contestant pays an entrance fee, which doesn’t make up the prize, for the opportunity to win a valuable prize by the practice of skill, doesn’t violate the gambling laws of the nation. To the extent that previous views of the office may be inconsistent with the conclusion reached herein, they are modified.»
WorldWinner.com, that is now the largest skill gaming website, accepts residents of Florida but limits them from certain contests where the prize pool is not fixed. Follow the link below to read more about WorldWinner:
What about the lottery?
Florida DOES NOT sell lottery tickets on line nor does it offer a subscription service. Of course, you could always try your luck at unauthorized lottery resellers that you may find online. I don’t suggest going that path though. It’s still illegal to sell lottery tickets on the internet in Florida so any site involved in the company is totally unregulated and probably located overseas.
Nobody actually knows how safe or legit overseas lottery resellers are. They claim to have a team of agents located around the world whose job it is to go about and purchase lottery tickets on behalf of consumers. The problem is there is no way to confirm how it actually works.
If you want to play the lottery, then it is best to just go buy your tickets in person. You truly don’t wish to leave the destiny of your $40 million dollar in the hands of some overseas, quasi-legal site. States do have the authority to sell tickets on the internet, but Florida doesn’t yet do that.
Sports Betting at Florida
Sports gambling is illegal for aside from 2 exceptions: jai alai betting and cruise ships which sail into international waters to provide sports gambling.
The exemption for jai alai gambling dates back to a time in Florida through which jai alai was much bigger than the vague sport it’s today. Jai alai arrived to Florida in the 1920s, and the state became somewhat of an epicenter for jai alai players around the world because of warm weather year-round and effortless accessibility from Spain and Latin America, where jai alai is popular.
Through its heyday, jai alai was exempted from state and federal sports gambling prohibitions. Jai alai preserved a strong presence in Florida through the 1970s but entered a continuous decline in the 1980s amid increasing competition from professional sports clubs, the lottery and South Florida casinos.
Nowadays, jai alai is a rather niche game and there are just a couple of busy frontons in operation today. For the most part, jai alai survives now primarily because of Florida gaming laws that require card rooms to offer some form of parimutuel wagering (for instance, jai alai, greyhound racing or horse racing gambling ). Therefore, most jai alai frontons exist chiefly to facilitate other forms of gambling.
The other»exception» into Florida’s sports betting prohibition occurs on the cruise ships managed by Victory Casino Cruises. Victory Casino Cruise ships depart twice each day from Port Canaveral. These ships sail out into international waters, open a casino and sportsbook to get a few hours and then come back to shore later that exact same day.
So far as a widespread legalization of sports gambling, Florida doesn’t appear likely to expand its gambling options any time soon. There haven’t been any attempts to introduce sports gambling legislation and there haven’t been any recent efforts to legalize sports betting.
A report by Eilers & Krejcik Gaming listed the 32 states likely to legalize sports betting within five years of a Supreme Court ruling overturning the federal prohibition of sports gambling. Florida wasn’t included in that list, but it had been included in a supplemental collection of 12 additional states likely to legalize sports betting within seven decades of such a ruling.
Will Sports Betting Ever Be Legalized in Florida?
Aside from the exceptions mentioned previously, sports betting remains prohibited in Florida and that’s unlikely to change any time soon. Florida has a complex mix of competing interests between lawmakers, Tribal issues as well as the Disney company that all have their own opinions on the growth of gambling.
The chances of Florida legalizing sports betting any time soon took a hit in 2018 when voters approved a ballot measure that essentially stripped off the state legislature from authorizing any gaming expansion, such as sports gambling.
Previously, the state legislature might have possibly drafted a law to create Florida sports gambling legal. Under the new amendment, Florida citizens would have to initiate a campaign to collect signatures to put the issue into a statewide referendum. Subsequently, Republicans would have to approve that referendum by 60% to make sports betting legal. It’s possible, but not very likely at this moment.
Is it lawful to bet online in Florida?
It depends on what your definition of»legal» is. A couple of forms of internet betting are explicitly legal in Florida (horses, greyhounds, fantasy and skill). It is clearly illegal to run an internet casino, card room or any other company that accepts wagers without the proper licensing.
What isn’t clear is whether or not it is a crime to place bets online at unlicensed gaming websites. The main text from Florida’s gambling laws reads as follows:
«849.08 Gambling. Whoever plays or engages in any game at cards, keno, roulette, faro or other game of chance, anytime, by any device whatever, to get cash or other thing of value, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the second level…»
It appears pretty apparent that this legislation makes it a misdemeanor offense to participate in obvious gambling games such as slot machines, slots, blackjack, craps and so on. The part that states»by any device whatever» is readily translated to include the internet. However, the state hasn’t prosecuted one individual for the mere act of putting bets online. Hunting down individuals playing blackjack on their computers just isn’t a priority.
Online poker is a different issue. The above mentioned law does not explicitly mention»poker» although it does say»any game .» But — there’s always a however — the phrase»other game of chance» appears to suggest that just games of chance have been prohibited. If poker isn’t a game of chance, this law doesn’t apply.
It does not end there, folks. You and that I may not consider poker a game of chance, but certain state and federal laws most definitely do specify poker as exactly that. Florida law doesn’t define games of chance nor does it cite poker and there is no case law to fall back on.
Someone would need to push the matter before we ever get Florida’s opinion on the situation of poker being ability or fortune. This likely will not happen any time soon because nobody is searching down poker players either.
What the Future Holds for Internet Gambling in Florida
A growing number of states are in the process of legalizing online casino and poker games after a federal judge ruled in 2011 that the Wire Act of 1961 only applies to sports betting. Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey have already legalized internet poker, casino games or both. State legislators in Florida haven’t yet moved to change anything. No legislation is pending at this time.
It does not look like anything will probably be changing in Florida any time soon either. The country is mostly opposed to the growth of internet gambling. Back in April of 2014, Florida governor Rick Scott voiced his opposition to enlarging online betting at the national level with a letter directed to the House and Senate Judiciary Committees.
In the years since, there haven’t been any real attempts to alter Florida gambling laws. The current status quo appears quite likely to remain as it is for the foreseeable future.
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