Florida offers a wide range of legal gambling. There are full-service casinos, card clubs, race tracks, charitable gaming, state lottery and jai alai. Casinos are permitted on land held in trust by the Seminole Tribe of Florida and in Broward and Dade Counties. Card clubs are permitted at race tracks.
While greyhound racing is legal, it was repealed by voters in a November 2018 referendum. It will be phased out by law through 2021. Card clubs with greyhound tracks will be permitted to stay in operation even after they shutter their race tracks.
Legal Florida Gambling Sites
Overview of Florida’s legal gambling options:
- Horseracing: Live, off-track and mobile
- Greyhound racing: Live, off-track; banned after January 2021
- Lottery: Scratch-off and lotto sales at retailers
- Slots, video poker and table games: Only on tribal land
- Bingo and raffles: Only at registered charities
- Poker and player-banked games: At tribal casinos and card clubs
- Jai alai betting: Live
Florida Online Gambling
The only form of online gambling that is licensed in Florida is online racing betting through advanced deposit wagering websites (ADWs). Horse and greyhound racing are permitted on mobile apps. TwinSpires and TVG are among the mobile ADWs that serve the Florida market.
No law in Florida specifically addresses daily fantasy sports contests but most major DFS companies accept players from the state. This includes DraftKings, FanDuel and Fantasy Draft. Yahoo DFS opted to leave Florida after reports that a grand jury was exploring the legality of the contests in the state, but returned in 2019.
Florida Online Gambling Laws
Online gambling is generally illegal in Florida. This includes poker, casino games and sports betting. Only licensed gaming companies may offer gambling in Florida and these activities are not authorized over the internet.
Daily fantasy sports are not covered by Florida law. Major DFS providers such as FanDuel and DraftKings operate in Florida nonetheless on the assumption that their contests are legal under skill gaming exceptions.
An Attorney General opinion dating back to 1991 found fantasy sports contests “a violation of state gambling laws,” but the non-binding opinion has not deterred most operators from setting up shop in Florida.
Online sports betting has been discussed by some pro-gaming lawmakers in the Sunshine State, but estimating a timeline for legalization is difficult at this stage. However, there is clearly an appetite for legalization as sports betting legislation has been introduced in each of the last two legislative sessions.
Online poker and casino games do not appear to be high priority items among lawmakers at this time. Currently, there is no pending legislation to legalize online gambling and there appears to be little desire to change the status quo at this time.
Four types of in-person gambling facilities operate in Florida:
- Those run by tribal groups
- Card clubs at race tracks outside of Miami-Dade and Broward counties
- Card clubs with slots and electronic table games in Miami-Dade and Broward counties
- Cruise ships that sail to international waters
The Seminole Tribe of Florida owns and operates the only full-service casinos in the state. Seminole casinos may spread slots, video poker, live poker, electronic table games and live table games that use cards.
The Miccosukee Tribe also operates a casino in Miami but is restricted to Class II gaming as it does not have a compact with the state. The Miccosukee Resort offers bingo and video gaming machines.
Card clubs are permitted at race tracks outside Dade and Broward Counties. These facilities may offer poker and table games banked by players, but may not offer slots, video poker or other traditional casino-style games.
Racetracks and other parimutuel facilities (such as jai alai frontons) in Miami-Dade and Broward counties may also operate slot machines and electronic table games in addition to poker.
Additionally, a casino cruise ship operated by Victory Casino Cruises departs from Port Canaveral twice a day for half-day cruises during which guests may gamble and bet on sports while in international waters.
List of Tribal Casinos in Florida
|Seminole Casino Brighton
|Seminole Classic Casino
|Seminole Casino Hotel Immokalee
|Seminole Casino Coconut Creek
|Seminole Hard Rock Tampa
|Seminole Hard Rock Hollywood
|Miccosukee Resort and Gaming Center
Broward and Miami-Dade Casinos
|Harrah’s Pompano Beach
|The Big Easy Casino
|Magic City Casino
|The Casino at Dania Beach
|Hialeah Park Casino
|Gulfstream Park Casino
Florida Gambling Laws
The Florida gambling landscape looks complicated at first glance, but it’s actually not as complex as it may seem once we understand the general layout.
The big picture view is there are five main categories of legal gambling in Florida:
- Casinos operated by the Seminole tribe which may offer slots, poker and Vegas-style games under a compact with the state
- A Cass II casino operated by the Miccosukee Tribe with bingo gaming machines that mimic slots and bingo
- Small-stakes social games played among friends
- Cardrooms operated by parimutuel wagering facilities such as horse tracks and jai alai frontons
- Cardrooms with slots and electronic table games operated by parimutuel wagering facilities in Miami-Dade County and Broward County
Criminal law and laws regarding licensed cardrooms are outlined in Chapter 849 of the Florida Statutes.
Seminole Compact in a State of Flux
Florida’s Seminole Tribe operates gambling in accordance with the compact they have with the state.
Under a state-tribal gaming compact formed in 2009, the Seminole Tribe was given exclusive rights to video poker, house-banked card games, and slots (except for slots offered by casinos in Miami-Dade and Broward counties) across Florida.
In return, the Seminole Tribe agreed to pay the state as much as $350 million per year in exclusivity fees.
However, the agreement broke down over the state’s refusal to crack down on card games hosted by non-tribal parimutuel facilities across the state. The Seminoles stopped paying exclusivity fees to the state in 2019.
Governor DeSantis reached a new compact agreement with the Seminole Tribe in 2021, but the compact still requires the approval of the Department of the Interior and survive any future legal challenges.
Class II Casino Operated by the Miccosukee Tribe
The Class II casino operated by the Miccosukee Tribe is legal under federal law, specifically the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA). Under the IGRA, federally recognized Indian tribes may operate Class II casinos (bingo and non-banked card games such as poker) if those games are permitted anywhere else in the state.
Class II casinos do not require a gaming compact with the state. Tribes that wish to offer Class III games such as slots and house-banked table games must have a gaming compact with the state. The Miccosukee tribe has not formed a gaming compact with Florida and is therefore relegated to hosting gaming machines that meet the technical definition of “bingo” and actual bingo games.
Social Gambling Exception
Generally, gambling is illegal in Florida unless it meets certain requirements to qualify as a penny-ante game or takes place at a licensed pari-mutuel facility.
Under Florida law, the offense of “gambling” is defined as follows:
Whoever plays or engages in any game at cards, keno, roulette, faro or other game of chance, at any place, by any device whatever, for money or other thing of value, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
The exception to this is for social card games that meet the following criteria:
- It is a game of poker, pinochle, bridge, rummy, canasta, hearts, dominoes or mah-jongg in which the winnings of any player in a single round or hand do not exceed $10
- The game is played in a private dwelling, common area of a residential area or a publicly owned community center
- The game must not be conducted for a profit
- Players must all be 18 or older
Also note: debts incurred in such games are not legally enforceable.
Florida Law on Cardrooms
Section 849.086 of the Florida Statutes authorizes cardrooms at pari-mutuel wagering facilities. Under Florida law, greyhound tracks, race tracks, and jai alai frontons may all offer non-banked card games.
This means authorized cardrooms may host regular poker games (such as Texas Holdem) and even casino-style games reworked to function as non-banked games. In other words, the house cannot take a profit by acting as the dealer in a game of blackjack, for example. Instead, the house must designate one player each round to act as the dealer.
For the most part, poker is the main game found at licensed cardrooms attached to parimutuel wagering facilities. Cardrooms must be attached to parimutuel facilities and must be licensed as cardrooms.
The passage of Amendment 13 in 2018 to close all greyhound race tracks by January 2021 does not impact cardrooms. A decoupling provision written into the amendment allows former greyhound racing facilities to continue hosting cardrooms (and slots in Broward and Miami-Date counties) even after the cessation of greyhound racing.
Licensed cardrooms are subject to a variety of taxes and obligations:
- 10% tax on grossly month receipts payable to the state
- An admission tax of 15% of the admission charge applied to cardroom visitors or 10 cents, whichever is greater – this tax is only payable if the cardroom imposes an entrance fee on visitors
- Jai alai permitholders must use at least 4% of gross monthly receipts to supplement jai alai prize money
- Thoroughbred and harness racing permitholders must use 47% of monthly gross receipts to supplement purses and 3% to supplement breeders’ awards
Limited Casinos in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties
Parimutuel facilities located in Miami-Dade County or Broward County are authorized to host slot machines in addition to cardrooms under Chapter 551 of the Florida Statutes.
This is legally permissible due to the passage of Amendment 4 in 2004. All pari-mutuel facilities in both counties that had run licensed races or games between 2002 and 2003 gained the option to add slots after the successful passage of Amendment 4. This is why pari-mutuel facilities in Miami-Dade and Broward counties may offer slots and card games while facilities in other counties are limited to card games only.
Casinos at race tracks and jai alai courses in the counties of Broward and Miami-Dade pay 35 percent in gross gaming revenue to the state on slots and video poker. The rate is 30 percent on electronic table games.
Most cardroom casinos in both counties have also launched “electronic table games” that supposedly meet the technical definition of slots by introducing a random number generator. The legality of these games has been called into question, but they remain available at most locations.
Cruise Ship Casinos
Cruise ship casinos offer the greatest variety of gambling options in Florida because they navigate to international waters, offering all types of casino games and sports betting.
Florida once had multiple cruise ship casinos to choose from, but the industry has hit hard times, and now just a single cruise ship casino operates in the state. Victory Casino Cruises still sail seven days a week on five and six-hour excursions from Port Canaveral.
Florida Sports Betting
Sports betting in any form is illegal in Florida, but a new gaming compact between the Seminole Tribe and state may change that.
Legal sports betting could be coming to Florida, but the path to implementation is murky due to the approval of Amendment 3 in 2018. Under the amendment, all gambling expansion initiatives outside of tribal must be approved via statewide vote. Additionally, the Department of Interior must approve the gaming compact. In both instances, the Florida sports betting compact only receives approval if other entities agree that wagers placed from anywhere in Florida occur on tribal land.
Past Efforts to Legalize Sports Betting in Florida
A number of bills to legalize sports betting in Florida were introduced in 2019 and 2020 but progress on that front has been slow.
A trio of bills (SB 968, SB 970, and SB 972) introduced in the 2020 legislative session indicate some level of support among lawmakers. How such an effort would be impacted by Amendment 3 remains debatable, and the Seminole Tribe of Florida will also want to have input on any such legislation. Still, the odds of Florida legalizing in-person and online sports betting have improved in recent times.
Florida Sports Betting Laws
Florida Statute 849.25 outlaws bookmaking and defines “bookmaking” as follows:
“…the act of taking or receiving, while engaged in the business or profession of gambling, any bet or wager upon the result of any trial or contest of skill, speed, power, or endurance of human, beast, fowl, motor vehicle, or mechanical apparatus or upon the result of any chance, casualty, unknown, or contingent event whatsoever.”
Additionally, the law lists seven factors that can be considered when determining whether or not a person is guilty of acting as an illegal bookmaker. Some of these considerations include setting the odds in such a way as to earn a profit, laying off wagers with other bookmakers to reduce risk, taking more than five wagers a day, taking more than $500 in wagers in a single day or $1,500 in a single week, having two or more people involved in the sports betting business and “any other factor” that indicates the business is run for a profit.
The law further states that the existence of any two of the above factors is prima facie evidence of an illegal bookmaking business.
A first offense is a third-degree felony. Subsequent offenses become second-degree felonies.
Jai Alai Betting
The sport of jai alai is unique to Florida in the USA, and although the industry has certainly seen better days, there are still a few places to bet on jai alai. For the most part, jai alai serves as a means for Miami-area casinos to stay compliant with state law that requires gambling venues to host horse races, greyhound races, or jai alai matches.
Actual jai alai betting is somewhat rare, but the following facilities do still support jai alai betting markets:
- The Casino at Dania Beach: Evening matches Wednesday – Sunday at 7 PM, matinee matches Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday at 1 PM
- Magic City Casino: Matches every Wednesday – Sunday at 3PM and 7PM
- Casino Miami: Weekend matches at 12PM and 7PM (seasonal availability only)
- King’s Court Jai Alai & Poker Room: Jai alai coming June 2019
Poker is legal at licensed pari-mutuel facilities and at casinos operated by the Seminole Tribe of Florida.
State law does not impose restrictions on games offered or the hours at which poker rooms may operate. No limit cash games and tournaments with any buyin are permitted.
Restrictions on buyin amounts in cash games and entry fees for tournaments were eliminated in 2010. Previously, players could buy into cash games with no more than $100 while tournaments were limited to a max buy-in of $1,000.
List of Card Clubs in Florida
Florida Poker Laws
Florida Statute 849.086 permits licensed race tracks and tribal casinos to spread authorized poker games. It defines these games as pari-mutuel pools. Unlicensed poker games are illegal if held at a business and there is a buy-in for players. An exception is made for small stakes social poker games.
Florida voters approved the state lottery via referendum in November 1986 and the first tickets went on sale in January 1988. This made Florida the first state in the south to launch a lottery.
Sales and prizes paid during the first year broke national and world records. As the FL Lottery website notes, $95 million worth of scratch-off tickets were sold in the first 12 days of operation to break the national sales record previously held by the CA Lottery.
Later that year, Florida set the world record at the time for a jackpot paid to a single winner when one lucky player claimed a jackpot worth more than $55 million.
Today, the Florida Lottery has one of the widest game varieties in the country. There are 10 different lotto drawings and dozens of scratch-off tickets sold for prices ranging from $1 to $30.
Interstate Florida Lotto Games
- Mega Millions
- Fantasy 5
Interstate Florida Lotto Games
- Pick 2
- Pick 3
- Pick 4
- Pick 5
- Jackpot Triple Play
Florida Lottery Laws
Florida Lottery law is codified in Chapter 24 of the state statutes.
This piece of legislation was passed after voters approved the lottery in the 1986 referendum and deals with the day-to-day management of the lottery. Issues such as how winnings are paid, frequency of drawings, methods to sell tickets, manner of compensation to retailers, and more are dealt with in this section.
The key points from FL Lottery law include:
- Minimum age of 18 to play the lottery
- Lottery may not sell tickets by internet
- Lottery winners may not remain anonymous
- Revenue generated by the lottery supports public education in Florida
Currently, revenue generated by the lottery is allocated as follows:
- 65% in prizes paid
- 26.9% to Florida education
- 5.6% to retailer commissions
- 1.1% to lottery admissions
- 1.4% to ticket vendor fees
Florida Horse Racing Betting and Parimutuel Wagering
There are three types of legal racing and pari-mutuel wagering in Florida. The most common is horse racing. There are five major horse racing tracks in Florida:
Horse racing is a major industry in Florida, and the state is home to numerous tracks that hold races year-round. Thoroughbred, quarter horse, and harness racing are conducted in the South Florida area year-round at various tracks. In contrast, thoroughbred races are held in the Tampa Bay area from December through May.
Florida horse racing betting is regulated by the Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering, a subdivision of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation. Parimutuel wagering is permitted in-person at licensed race tracks, online at licensed Florida betting sites, and licensed ADW outlets located across the state.
- Off Track Betting Facilities
- Mobile and Online Options
Florida Greyhound Betting
Greyhound racing was once a major industry in Florida, but voters approved a constitutional amendment in 2018 to put an end to all live dog racing.
Amendment 13 needed a 60% or greater yes vote in the election and easily cleared that with a final vote of 69% in favor and 31% against. With that vote, live greyhound racing ended in January 2021. Additionally, the amendment prohibits all betting on greyhound races held in Florida. Fans can still bet on races held elsewhere via simulcasting and ADW providers.
Florida Horse Racing Laws
Horse and greyhound racing was established through the Florida Pari-mutuel Wagering Act. It is Chapter 550 in the Florida Code.
The Florida Pari-mutuel Wagering Act passed the state legislature in 193 and was originally vetoed by Governor Carlton. Both Florida legislative chambers overrode the veto in June 1931 to make Florida one of the first gambling-friendly states in the South.
The tax rate on horse and greyhound racing handle varies, based on paid attendance and takeout. In 2018, Florida collected just over $8.5 million in taxes. Racing taxes are down 38 percent in the last 10 years and 98 percent since the enaction of the Florida Pari-mutuel Racing Act. The expansion of casinos and card clubs is thought to be a reason behind the losses.
Florida Esports Betting
Florida law does not specifically address esports competitions played for money. There is no case law on the topic, but it is likely legal to enter paid esports competitions as they can be considered contests of skill (similar to paying money to enter a golf tournament).
However, spectators making wagers on esports events would fall afoul of Florida’s sports betting laws. For a paid competition with prize money to be legal, all such prizes would have to be paid to participants only and wagering on the outcome by nonparticipants restricted.
Florida Skill Games
Games of chance are prohibited under Florida Code Chapter 849. There are several exceptions to this law. These include the state lottery, charitable organizations, racing, and authorized pari-mutuel racing. The definition of gambling is vague and led daily fantasy sports and skill-based gaming companies to assume that these activities are legal in the state.
Skill competitions for money are legal. This may include an athletic challenge or trivia contest. Anything involving a participant’s skill not using outside forces falls within a skill exception of the state’s gambling laws.
Skill-based gaming machines are not available in the state’s casinos. However, cruise ships that dock in Florida operate these games. Players will also find skill-based games to be legal at arcades if the prize is not cash.
Florida Charity Bingo Laws
Florida Code 849.0931(c) permits registered charities to spread bingo games in Florida. Nonprofits must exist for three years to receive licensing to spread the games. Qualifying organizations include civic, community, benevolent, religious, or scholastic works or other similar activities. Charities with alcohol licenses are permitted to operate bingo games.
Charities are permitted to hold raffles under Florida Code 849.0935. Any charity that qualifies for bingo may hold raffles. Advertisement of raffles must disclose full rules and the name of the organization holding it. It must also state the beneficiaries of the raffle money.
Florida Gaming Regulator Directory
The following entities regulate gambling in Florida:
Florida Problem Gambling Resources
Gamblers and the loved ones of gamblers who have questions or concerns can turn to the National Council on Problem Gambling for information and to be directed to resources. Additionally, the Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling offers help at the local level.