History of Gambling in Florida – All Important Facts You Need to Know!

Gambling has always existed since ancient civilizations. But gambling in Florida has always been a problem. These gambling laws have changed because lawmakers and Florida citizens keep battling to go through with their specific agendas.

We will discuss the brief history of offline and online gambling in this state, but for more information on the topic, we recommend reading this Florida online casinos and gambling guide from CasinoUSA.

Historical Facts About Gambling in Florida

In 1931, the Florida legislature approved dog and horse racing by a single vote. Later, this vote was vetoed by Governor Doyle Carlton.

In 1935, slot machines and Jai-alai were legalized in Florida.

1937 took a turn, and slot machines were made illegal.

1970 was a good year that legalized Bingo.

In 1978, Florida voters rejected a full-scale casino gambling constitutional amendment. In 1986, Florida voters again rejected the full-scale casino gambling amendment.

However, in 1986, Florida voters had the lottery approved. In 1988, the lottery officially began operating.

In 1988, the Federal government passed the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, which legalized any form of gambling in Florida. It also allowed playing the game through any electronic device. Because of this, the Seminole tribe started installing video lottery machines in tribal facilities.

In 1989, Florida legalized penny-ante poker games at home (private), with the limit of the pot not increasing to more than $10. Through IGRA, people built poker rooms on tribal lands.

In 1996, poker was legalized at pari-mutuel sites across Florida but with a $10 pot limit.

Overview of Gambling Laws in Florida

Gambling was and still is illegal in Florida, except for a few exceptions. These include:

State Lottery

More than 13,000 lottery retailers exist in Florida. Lottery lovers can choose between multi-state favorites (like Mega Millions) or local lottery games. Players can also go for scratch-off tickets or terminal games besides daily lottery draws. But the player can participate in the lottery only if they are 18 or above.

Cruise Ship Gaming

Made available and legalized in 1984, passengers get to enjoy a ‘Cruise to Nowhere’. This cruise goes nine miles to the Gulf of Mexico or three miles into the Atlantic Ocean. Both these options take players on a ride over international waters where the state’s gambling laws no longer exist. Passengers can play games like roulette, blackjack, video poker, craps, slots, and other exotic games.

Pari-mutuel Betting

Made legal through a single vote in 1931, pari-mutuel betting lets players gamble on greyhound and horse racing in Florida. Players can also bet on slot machines. Players of age 18 and above can enjoy playing poker or betting on ponies, while gambling on gaming machines can only be done by players of age 21 or above.

Tribal Casinos

We’ve established now that commercial casinos are illegal and banned in Florida. But tribal facilities have been operating for many decades. A player must be 18 or above to play poker in bingo in tribal establishments. Players need to be 21 or above to try table or electronic games. Most of the casinos are in the Seminole tribe with Class III devices. In contrast, the Miccosukee tribe only has a single casino with Class II devices.

What About Online Gambling? Is it Legal in Florida?

Online gambling isn’t a thing in Florida, according to the law (section 849.08). The Florida legislature has tried hard to legalize sports betting for the past couple of years. But Governor DeSantis doesn’t favor legalizing online gambling in the state.

Due to this, the process of legalizing online gambling in the state is slower than usual. In 2021, three new bills were passed to bring online gambling to Florida. These bills differ regarding tax rates and annual license fees.

But the best part is that all these bills include legalizing online betting on sports. Seminole tribe, which operates almost all the casinos in south Florida, is the biggest hindrance to legalizing online gambling in the state.

This is because the Seminole tribe will face loss if gambling and sports betting is made legal across the state. To make things work in the citizens’ favor, a better tribal compact must be established and proposed to ensure that both the state and the tribe benefit from this gambling legalization decision.

Are There Any Legal Online Casinos or Poker in Florida?

Currently, there are no legal online poker sites or casinos in Florida. If you want to play poker or casino the legal way, you will have to visit a Seminole casino. If you find players gambling in online casinos, they do it on illegal offshore casino sites.

But don’t lose faith! Online gambling will most likely be legal in the coming years in Florida. And according to predictions, sports betting may become the first online legalized game in the state.

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