Florida is home to numerous betting options both online and in the actual world. Legal online gambling in Florida currently includes horse racing betting, greyhound gambling and everyday fantasy sports. In the physical realm, Florida has horse racing betting, bingo, conventional casinos and jai alai betting.
Sports betting in Florida does not appear likely at the moment. The country has long been eyed as a significant potential market for sport gambling, but modifications to state authorities have made any future gaming expansions more difficult as they currently require a statewide referendum initiated by request.
Legal Online Betting Options
Let’s start with a fast list of legal Florida gaming websites and dig into all the details below.
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Horse and Greyhound Racing
Online horse racing and greyhound gambling are legal in Florida for decades and a number of big racing websites accept clients from the Sunshine State. BetAmerica, TwinSpires and TVG all accept Florida customers and are licensed right here in the United States.
In November 2018, Florida voters approved Amendment 13 to end greyhound racing. The amendment made greyhound racing and gambling on live greyhound races held in Florida illegal starting on January 1st, 2021.
Existing racetracks will nevertheless be allowed to provide poker and other games after the change takes effect, but they will no longer be able to sponsor live greyhound races. This modification also has no impact on online greyhound racing, which will remain legal because the change only seeks to prevent wagers put on races held in the state.
The legal situation for fantasy sports in Florida is complex and uncertain, but most daily dream websites have served the state for decades with no hindrance from local officials.
A number of attempts to officially legalize dream sports in Florida have collapsed over the years due to disputes on how the activity ought to be categorized and the complexity of tribal gambling contracts between the state and the Seminole Tribe of Florida.
A 1991 Attorney General opinion lumped season-long fantasy sports in with gambling and opined it is most likely illegal under state law, but the opinion is obsolete and doesn’t hold legal burden. 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 gaming law permits games of skill only if entry fees don’t directly contribute to the prize pool. What this means is that it’s authorized to pay an entry fee and compete for a fixed prize, but not to perform at a competition where all of the entrance fees are collected to form the decoration pool itself.
For instance, it would be legal to sponsor a paid-entry golf championship in the event the organizers place fixed prizes which don’t change no matter the number of people enter the championship. That same tournament would cross the line into illegal territory if prizes were decided by pooling entry fees and paying the winners a proportion of the prize pool.
A 1990 comment from the Attorney General summed it up as follows:
“Accordingly, I am of the opinion that a contest of skill, such as a hole-in-one golf contest, in which the contestant pays an entry fee, which does not constitute the prize, for the opportunity to win a valuable prize by the practice of skill, does not violate the gambling laws of this nation. To the extent that previous views of this office may be inconsistent with the conclusion reached herein, they are hereby modified.”
WorldWinner.com, which is currently the largest skill gaming website, accepts residents of Florida but limits them from certain contests in which the prize pool is not fixed. Follow the link below to read more about WorldWinner:
What about the state lottery?
Florida DOES NOT sell tickets on line nor does it provide a subscription service. Of course, you could always try your luck at Experienced lottery resellers which you can find online. I don’t suggest going that route though. It is still illegal to sell lottery tickets on the internet in Florida so any website involved in the company is completely unregulated and probably located overseas.
Nobody actually knows how safe or legit overseas lottery resellers are. They claim to have a staff of representatives located around the globe whose job it is to go about and purchase lottery tickets on behalf of customers. The problem is there is no way to confirm how it actually works.
If you would like to play the lottery, it’s best to just go buy your tickets in person. You truly don’t want to leave the fate of your $40 million dollar at the hands of a foreign, quasi-legal website. Countries do have the authority to sell tickets on the internet, but Florida does not yet do that.
Sports Betting at Florida
Sports gambling is illegal for aside from two exceptions: jai alai betting and cruise ships which sail to international waters to provide sports betting.
The exemption for jai alai betting dates back to a time in Florida through which jai alai was much larger than the vague sport it’s today. Jai alai came to Florida in the 1920s, and the nation turned into a little of an epicenter for jai alai players across the world owing to warm weather year-round and easy accessibility from Spain and Latin America, where jai alai is a favorite.
During its heyday, jai alai was even exempted from state and federal sports betting prohibitions. Jai alai maintained a strong presence in Florida through the 1970s but entered a continuous decline from the 1980s amid rising competition from professional sports clubs, the lottery and South Florida casinos.
Today, 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 need card rooms to offer you some form of parimutuel wagering (such as jai alai, greyhound racing or horse racing gambling ). Therefore, most jai alai frontons exist chiefly to facilitate different kinds of gambling.
The other”exclusion” to Florida’s sports betting prohibition occurs on the cruise ships managed by Victory Casino Cruises. Victory Casino Cruise ships leave twice a day from Port Canaveral. These boats sail into international waters, open a casino and sportsbook for a couple hours and then return to shore later that same day.
As far as a widespread legalization of sport betting, Florida does not appear likely to expand its gaming choices any time soon. There haven’t been any attempts to introduce sports betting legislation and there have been no recent attempts to legalize sports betting.
A report from Eilers & Krejcik Gaming recorded the 32 states most 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 was contained in a supplemental list of all 12 additional states inclined to legalize sports gambling within seven decades of such a judgment.
Can Sports Betting Ever Be Legalized in Florida?
Apart from the exceptions mentioned previously, sports gambling remains prohibited in Florida and that’s not likely to change any time soon. Florida has a complex mixture of competing interests between lawmakers, Tribal concerns as well as the Disney company that have their own comments on the expansion of gambling.
The chances of Florida legalizing sports gambling anytime soon took a hit in 2018 when voters approved a ballot measure that essentially stripped the state legislature from authorizing any gaming expansion, such as sports betting.
Formerly, the state legislature might have potentially drafted a new law to make Florida sports gambling legal. Under the new amendment, Florida citizens would need to initiate a campaign to gather signatures to put the issue into a statewide referendum. Then, voters would have to accept that referendum by 60% to make sports betting legal. It is possible, but not very likely at this moment.
Is it lawful to wager online in Florida?
It depends on what your definition of”legal” is. A couple of kinds of online betting are specifically legal in Florida (horses, greyhounds, dream and ability ). It’s clearly illegal to run an online casino, card room or some other business that accepts wagers without the proper licensing.
What isn’t clear is whether it is a crime to place bets online at unlicensed betting websites. The key text in Florida’s gambling laws reads as follows:
“849.08 Betting. Whoever plays or engages in any game , keno, roulette, faro or other game of chance, anytime, by any device whatever, for money or other thing of value, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree…”
It appears pretty apparent that this legislation makes it a misdemeanor crime to take part in obvious gambling games like slot machines, slots, blackjack, craps and so on. The part that states”by any device whatever” can be easily interpreted to incorporate the world wide web. However, the state has never once prosecuted one person for the mere act of placing bets online. Hunting down people playing blackjack in their computers just is not a high priority.
Online poker is a different issue. The above law doesn’t explicitly cite”poker” although it does mention”any game .” But — there is always a however — that the phrase”other game of chance” seems to suggest that only games of chance are prohibited. If poker isn’t a game of chance, this legislation does not apply.
It doesn’t end there, folks. You and that I may not consider poker a game of chance, but certain state and federal laws most definitely do define poker as precisely that. Florida law doesn’t define games of chance nor does it mention poker and there is no case law to fall back on.
Someone would have to push the matter before we get Florida’s opinion on the matter of poker being ability or luck. This probably won’t happen any time soon because nobody is searching down poker players .
What the Future Holds for Internet Gambling in Florida
An increasing number of states are in the process of legalizing online poker and casino games following a federal judge ruled in 2011 the Wire Act of 1961 only applies to sports betting. Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey have already legalized internet poker, casino games or even both. State legislators in Florida haven’t yet moved to change anything. No legislation is pending at this time.
It does not seem like anything will probably be shifting in Florida any time soon either. The state is mostly opposed to the growth of online gambling. In April of 2014, Florida governor Rick Scott expressed his opposition to expanding online gambling 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 legislation. The current status quo looks quite likely to remain as it is for the near future.
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