Florida is home to many betting options both on the internet and in the actual world. Legal online gambling in Florida now includes horse racing betting, greyhound gambling and daily fantasy sports. In the physical world, Florida has horse racing betting, bingo, conventional casinos and jai alai betting.
Sports gambling in Florida doesn’t seem likely at the moment. The country has long been eyed as a significant potential market for sport betting, but changes to state authorities have made any future gambling expansions more difficult as they now take a statewide referendum initiated by petition.
Legal Online Betting Options
Let’s start with a fast list of legal Florida betting sites and dig into all the details below.
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Horse and Greyhound Racing
Online horse racing and greyhound betting are lawful in Florida for years and a number of big racing websites accept customers 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 amendment made greyhound racing and betting on live greyhound races held in Florida illegal beginning on January 1st, 2021.
Existing racetracks will still be allowed to offer poker and other games following the change takes effect, but they will no longer be in a position to host live greyhound races. This amendment has no effect on internet greyhound racing, which will stay legal because the change only seeks to stop wagers put on races held in the country.
The legal situation for fantasy sports in Florida is complicated and unclear, but most daily fantasy websites have served the nation for years with no interference from officials.
A number of attempts to officially legalize fantasy sports in Florida have failed over the years because of disputes over how the activity should 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season-long fantasy sports in with gambling and opined it is probably illegal under state law, but the opinion is outdated and doesn’t hold legal burden. Just as lawmakers want to clarify the legal standing of fantasy sports, progress has been slow. Meanwhile, Florida residents are accepted at both FanDuel and DraftKings:
Florida gaming law allows games of ability only if entrance fees do not directly contribute to the prize pool. What this means is that it is legal to pay an entrance fee and compete for a fixed prize, but to not play in a contest where all of the entry fees are accumulated to form the prize pool .
For example, it could be legal to sponsor a paid-entry golf championship in the event the organizers set fixed prizes which don’t change no matter the number of people enter the tournament. The exact same tournament could cross the line into illegal territory if prizes were decided by pooling entrance charges and paying the winners a percentage of the prize pool.
A 1990 comment from the Attorney General summed it up as follows:
“Accordingly, I am of the opinion that a competition of skill, such as a hole-in-one golf competition, where the contestant pays an entrance 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 the nation. To the extent that previous views of this office might be inconsistent with the conclusion reached herein, they are modified.”
WorldWinner.com, which is now the largest skill gaming website, accepts citizens of Florida but limits them from particular contests where the prize pool isn’t fixed. Follow the link below to read more about WorldWinner:
What about the lottery?
Florida DOES NOT sell tickets on line nor does it offer a subscription service. Obviously, you can always try your luck at unauthorized lottery resellers that you can discover online. I don’t recommend going that route though. It is still illegal to sell lottery tickets on the internet from Florida so any website included in the business is completely untrue and most likely located overseas.
Nobody really knows how safe or legit foreign lottery resellers are. They claim to have a team of agents located around the globe whose job it would be to go around and purchase lottery tickets on behalf of consumers. The problem is there’s no way to verify 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 want to leave the destiny of your $40 million jackpot in the hands of a overseas, quasi-legal site. States do have the ability to sell tickets online, but Florida does not yet do that.
Sports Betting at Florida
Sports gambling is illegal for aside from 2 exceptions: jai alai betting and cruise ships that sail to international waters to offer sports betting.
The exemption for jai alai gambling dates back to a time in Florida during which jai alai was considerably larger than the vague sport it is today. Jai alai came to Florida in the 1920s, and the nation turned into somewhat of an epicenter for jai alai players across the world because of warm weather year-round and easy access from Spain and Latin America, where jai alai is popular.
Through its heyday, jai alai was even exempted from state and federal sports betting prohibitions. Jai alai preserved a strong presence in Florida throughout the 1970s but entered a continuous decrease from the 1980s amid rising competition from professional sports clubs, the lottery and South Florida casinos.
Nowadays, jai alai is a fairly niche game and there are only a handful of busy frontons in operation now. For the most part, jai alai survives today primarily because of Florida gaming laws that require card rooms to offer some kind of parimutuel wagering (for instance, jai alai, greyhound racing or horse racing betting). Therefore, most jai alai frontons exist chiefly to facilitate different kinds of gaming.
The other”exclusion” into Florida’s sports gambling prohibition occurs on the cruise ships operated by Victory Casino Cruises. Victory Casino Cruise ships depart twice each 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 exact same day.
As far as a widespread legalization of sports betting, Florida doesn’t seem likely to expand its gaming choices anytime soon. There have been no efforts to present sports gambling legislation and there have been no recent attempts to legalize sports betting.
A report by Eilers & Krejcik Gambling listed the 32 countries likely to legalize sports betting within five decades of a Supreme Court ruling overturning the national prohibition of sports gambling. Florida wasn’t contained in that listing, but it had been included in a supplemental collection of all 12 additional states likely to legalize sports gambling within seven decades of such a ruling.
Will Sports Betting Ever Be Legalized at Florida?
Aside from the exceptions detailed above, sports betting remains prohibited in Florida and that is unlikely to change any time soon. Florida has a complex mixture of competing interests involving lawmakers, Tribal concerns as well as the Disney business that all have their own comments on the expansion of gaming.
The odds of Florida legalizing sports gambling anytime soon took a hit in 2018 when voters approved a ballot measure that basically stripped off the state legislature from authorizing any gambling expansion, including sports betting.
Formerly, the state legislature could have possibly drafted a new law to create Florida sports gambling legal. Under the new amendment, Florida taxpayers would have to initiate a campaign to collect signatures to put the issue to a statewide referendum. Then, voters would have to accept that referendum by 60 percent to earn sports gambling legal. It is possible, but not too likely at this moment.
Is it legal to wager online in Florida?
It depends on what your definition of”lawful” is. A couple of kinds of internet betting are explicitly legal in Florida (horses, greyhounds, fantasy and skill). It is obviously illegal to run an internet casino, card room or any other company that takes wagers without the proper licensing.
What isn’t clear is whether or not it is a crime to place bets online at unlicensed betting sites. The main text from Florida’s gambling laws reads as follows:
“849.08 Gambling. Whoever plays or participates in any sport at cards, keno, roulette, faro or other game of chance, anytime, by any device whatever, to get cash or other item of value, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree…”
It appears fairly apparent that this legislation makes it a misdemeanor offense to participate in obvious gambling games like slot machines, blackjack, craps and so forth. The part that says”by any system whatever” can be easily interpreted to incorporate the world wide web. On the other hand, the state has never prosecuted a single person for the mere act of putting bets online. Hunting down people playing blackjack in their computers just isn’t a high priority.
Internet poker is a different matter. The above mentioned law does not explicitly mention”poker” although it does mention”any game .” But — there’s always a but — the phrase”other game of chance” appears to imply that only games of chance are prohibited. If poker is not a game of chance, this law does not apply.
It does not end there, folks. You and I might not consider poker a game of chance, but certain state and federal laws most definitely do specify poker as exactly that. Florida law does not define games of chance nor does it cite poker and there’s absolutely no case law to fall back on.
Someone would have to push the thing before we get Florida’s view on the matter of poker being ability or luck. This probably won’t happen any time soon because nobody is hunting down poker players either.
What the Future Holds for Internet Gambling at Florida
A growing number of countries are in the process of legalizing online casino and poker games following a federal judge ruled in 2011 the Wire Act of 1961 only applies to sports gambling. Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey have already legalized internet poker, casino games or both. State legislators in Florida haven’t yet moved to alter anything. No legislation is pending at this time.
It doesn’t seem like anything will probably be changing in Florida anytime soon . The state is mostly opposed to the expansion of internet gambling. In April of 2014, Florida governor Rick Scott expressed his opposition to enlarging online gambling at the federal level with a letter led 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 looks quite likely to remain as it is for the near future.
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