Florida is home to numerous betting options both on the internet 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, conventional casinos and jai alai betting.
Sports gambling in Florida does not appear likely at the moment. The state has long been eyed as a significant potential market for sport gambling, but changes to state authorities have made any upcoming gaming expansions harder as they now take a statewide referendum initiated by petition.
Legal Online Betting Options
Let’s begin with a quick list of legal Florida betting sites and then dig into all the details below.
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Horse and Greyhound Racing
Online horse racing and greyhound gambling have been lawful in Florida for decades and a variety of major racing websites accept customers 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 created greyhound racing and gambling on live greyhound races held in Florida illegal starting on January 1st, 2021.
Existing racetracks will nevertheless be allowed to offer poker and other games after the amendment takes effect, however they’ll no longer be in a position to host live greyhound races. This amendment has no impact on online greyhound racing, which will remain legal because the change only attempts to stop wagers put on races held in the country.
The legal problem for fantasy sports in Florida is complex and uncertain, but many daily dream websites have served the nation for years with no hindrance from local officials.
Multiple attempts to formally legalize fantasy sports in Florida have failed over the decades due to disputes on how the activity should be categorized and the complexity of tribal gambling contracts between the nation and the Seminole Tribe of Florida.
A 1991 Attorney General opinion lumped season-long dream sports in with gambling and opined it is most likely illegal under state legislation, but the opinion is outdated and does not maintain legal weight. Just as lawmakers would like to explain the legal status of fantasy sports, progress has been slow. In the meantime, Florida residents are accepted in both FanDuel and DraftKings:
Florida gaming law allows games of skill only if entry fees do not directly contribute to the prize pool. This means is that it’s legal to pay an entry fee and compete for a fixed prize, but not to perform in a contest where all of the entry fees are collected to form the prize pool itself.
As an instance, it could be legal to host a paid-entry golf championship in the event the organizers set fixed prizes that don’t change no matter how many men and women enter the tournament. That same tournament would cross the line into illegal land if prizes were determined 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:
“Thus, I am of the opinion that a competition of skill, like a hole-in-one golf contest, 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 opinions of this office may be inconsistent with the conclusion reached herein, they are hereby modified.”
WorldWinner.com, that is currently the largest skill gaming site, accepts residents of Florida but restricts them from particular contests where the prize pool isn’t fixed. Follow the link below to see more about WorldWinner:
What about the state lottery?
Florida DOES NOT sell lottery tickets on line nor does it offer a subscription service. Obviously, you could always try your luck at unauthorized lottery resellers that you may find online. I don’t recommend going that route though. It’s still illegal to sell lottery tickets on the internet in Florida so any site included in the business is totally untrue and most likely located abroad.
Nobody actually knows how secure or legit overseas lottery resellers are. They claim to have a team of representatives located around the world whose job it is to go around and purchase lottery tickets on behalf of customers. The issue is there is no way to confirm how it really works.
If you would like to play the lottery, it is best to just go buy your tickets in person. You truly don’t wish to leave the destiny of your own $40 million jackpot at the hands of a overseas, quasi-legal website. States do have the ability to sell tickets on the internet, but Florida doesn’t yet do that.
Sports Betting at Florida
Sports betting is illegal for besides two exceptions: jai alai betting and cruise ships which sail into international waters to offer sports gambling.
The exemption for jai alai betting dates back to some time in Florida through which jai alai was considerably bigger than the obscure sport it is today. Jai alai arrived to Florida in the 1920s, and eventually the nation became a little 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.
During its heyday, jai alai was even exempted from state and federal sports gambling prohibitions. Jai alai maintained a strong presence in Florida throughout the 1970s but entered a continuous decrease from the 1980s amid increasing competition from professional sports teams, 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 now. 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 (such as jai alai, greyhound racing or horse racing betting). Thus, most jai alai frontons exist primarily to facilitate different forms of gaming.
Another”exception” to Florida’s sports gambling prohibition occurs on the cruise ships managed by Victory Casino Cruises. Victory Casino Cruise ships depart twice a day from Port Canaveral. These ships sail into international waters, open a casino and sportsbook for a few hours and then come back to beach later that exact same day.
So far as a widespread legalization of sports betting, Florida does not appear likely to expand its gaming choices anytime soon. There haven’t been any attempts to present sports betting legislation and there have been no recent efforts to legalize sports gambling.
A report by Eilers & Krejcik Gambling recorded the 32 states likely to legalize sports gambling within five decades of a Supreme Court ruling overturning the national prohibition of sports betting. Florida was not contained in that listing, but it was contained in a supplemental list of all 12 additional states likely 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 is not likely to change any time soon. Florida has a complex mixture of competing interests involving lawmakers, Tribal issues and even the Disney business that have their own opinions on the growth of gaming.
The odds of Florida legalizing sports gambling any time soon took a further hit in 2018 when voters approved a ballot measure that basically stripped the state legislature from authorizing any gambling expansion, including sports gambling.
Formerly, the state legislature might have potentially drafted a new law to make Florida sports gambling legal. Under the new amendment, Florida citizens would have to initiate a campaign to gather signatures to place the issue to a statewide referendum. Subsequently, Republicans would have to accept that referendum by 60 percent to make sports gambling legal. It’s possible, but not too likely at this moment.
Is it legal to bet online in Florida?
It depends on what your definition of”lawful” is. A couple of forms of internet betting are specifically legal in Florida (horses, greyhounds, dream and skill). It is obviously illegal to operate an online casino, card room or any other business that takes wagers without the correct licensing.
What isn’t clear is whether it is a crime to place bets online at unlicensed gaming sites. The key text from Florida’s gaming 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 item of value, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree…”
It appears pretty clear that this legislation makes it a misdemeanor offense to take part in obvious gambling games like slot machines, blackjack, craps and so on. The part that states”by any device whatever” is easily translated to incorporate the world wide web. However, the country hasn’t once prosecuted one person for the mere act of placing bets online. Hunting down people playing blackjack on their computers just isn’t a priority.
Online poker is a different matter. The above mentioned law doesn’t explicitly mention”poker” but it does mention”any game .” But — there’s always a but — the phrase”other game of chance” seems to imply that just games of chance are prohibited. If poker isn’t a game of chance, this law doesn’t apply.
It doesn’t end there, folks. You and I may not believe poker a sport of chance, but sure state and federal laws most certainly do define 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 need to push the thing before we ever get Florida’s opinion on the matter of poker being skill or fortune. This probably won’t happen anytime 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 either internet poker, casino games or both. State legislators in Florida have not yet moved to change anything. No legislation is pending at this moment.
It doesn’t seem like anything will be shifting in Florida any time soon either. The country is largely opposed to the growth of online gambling. Back in April of 2014, Florida governor Rick Scott expressed 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 have been no real efforts to alter Florida gaming laws. The current status quo appears quite likely to stay as it is for the foreseeable future.
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