Florida may have as many casinos as it does sunshine rays and rainstorms, with nearly 40 of them spread across the peninsula. The Sunshine State is known for its love of slots and poker rooms. Though, this doesn’t mean that all forms of casino gaming are welcome in Florida, where craps and roulette have an unfortunate shadow cast over them. Whatever your game of choice is, in Florida, you’re sure to find it in one of the states many tribal casinos, cruise casinos, bingo halls, racetracks, and more.
Florida Legal Gambling History
The state of Florida has a deep and at times less-than-savory history involving gambling. Much of it had taken place in the seedy underground throughout an almost 2-century span and involved organized crime, local movers and shakers, a conservative government, and the state’s tribal people.
On the lighter side, Florida made history with being the first state to legalize race track betting back in 1931. The very next year pari-mutuel wagering was made legal. Though, Florida politicians aimed aggressively at shutting horse and greyhound racing down for years to come.
Historically, a large portion of the state’s gambling was illegal and controlled by the mob – aside from a 2-year window in 1935, when slots were briefly made legal – up until 2004 when the already active industry was finally recognized as (mostly) legal.
In 1979, the Seminole Tribe of Florida opened up a bingo hall which turned into a wild success. It kept on its feet and remained in operation despite ongoing legal attempts made by the state to shut it down. The tribal bingo halls never fell and still stand with much success today.
Things were quiet in Florida for some time. Measures on ballots would show up every decade to leave voters with the choice to legalize slots in their respective counties, always being met with little support each time. Though, voters did choose to allow for a state lottery in 1986.
Low Stakes, penny-ante poker was voted through in Broward county in 1994. Two years later, in 1996, poker had expanded to the entire state. While starting back in 1994 with $10 pot limits, it was increased to $100 by 2008 before being lifted altogether in 2010. In an unusual turn of events, in 2004, the local voters in Broward and Dade counties finally decided to vote “yes” on slots.
Florida Gambling Legal Status
Florida is home to over 40 tribal casinos with slots, blackjack, poker, video poker, baccarat, and more. Craps and roulette remain illegal in Florida but there is a way around this. Well, sort of. Those looking to shoot the dice can board one of Florida’s casino cruise ships where international waters are only 3 miles away and dice games are fair game. Players must be 21 and up to play at the state’s tribal and cruise casinos.
Online gambling is illegal in Florida. Although, the state does allow for online off-track betting. Despite legislation that would suggest that daily fantasy sports are illegal, companies like DraftKings and FanDuel still operate in Florida and without any problem.
Sports betting in Florida is mostly illegal. I say “mostly” because pari-mutuel betting is allowed at Florida race tracks. And you don’t have to go too far to find table games. Many of Florida’s race tracks offer them, while they’re looking to expand into the slot market. Needless to say, race track betting is legal in Florida. Were the age to wager a bit higher than other states. To bet at the tracks you must be at least 21 years of age.
In the state of Florida, to play bingo or the state lottery you must be at least 18 years old.
Florida Legal Gambling FAQ’s
What forms of gambling are legal in the state of Florida?
The following are the legal forms of gambling within the state of Florida:
- Land-based casino gaming, though craps and roulette remain illegal.
- Florida state lottery, which includes scratch-off tickets.
- Horse and greyhound race betting.
- Charitable games such as bingo and raffles.
- Pari-mutuel wagering.’
To play the lottery in Florida or charitable games such as bingo, you must be at least 18 years of age or older.
Casino betting and race track betting are both 21 and up to play.
Will legal online gambling or sportsbooks ever make their way into Florida?
It is very near to reality. There is no law on the books for it or against it. It would have to be made formal, which is something that we should see in Florida’s foreseeable future.
For now, the only form of online gambling found in Florida is off-track betting. Daily fantasy sports also operates in full-range, even though some say that 1991 legislation would make them illegal to do so. It hasn’t posed a problem. We’ll keep an eye out for Florida legislation and other states for that matter.