Guide to Florida’s Gambling Laws

Florida State Gambling LawsGambling in Florida offers a number of gambling options, both land-based and online. Although state lawmakers appear to be mostly opposed to expanding online gambling, Florida doesn’t take a hardline against forms of online-gaming that are permitted under federal law.

Overall, Florida has a vast selection of opportunities for residents-and-visitors to enjoy; Tribal Casinos, poker rooms and bingo halls, or even ‘taking-a-cruise-to-nowhere’ and gambling-in-international-waters.

Check the table below for the legal position on sports betting in Florida, online casinos, gambling online etc.

Gambling Type Legal Land-Based Legal Online
Sports Betting No No
Casinos Yes No
Fantasy Sports (DFS) N/A Yes
eSports No No
Poker Yes No
Horse-Racing Yes Yes
Lottery Yes No
Charitable-Gambling Yes No

Florida Gambling Tax Rate

Florida has no state tax on gambling winnings, however, Federal taxes may apply on larger wins.

Florida Legal Gambling Age

Gambling Type Age
DFS 18
Casinos 18-21(Varies)
Horse-Racing 18
Lottery 18
Charitable-Gambling 18


Florida Sports Betting Laws

America’s online sports betting laws potentially changed forever in May 2018, when the state of New Jersey won its challenge to the Federal Government ban on US-Federal-Sports-Betting-Laws. The ground-breaking ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court struck down upon the prohibitions on sports betting nationwide. The Supreme Court’s ruling handed the legal sports betting decision back-to each-state to decide for themselves, and until now, Delaware, Mississippi and West Virginia have joined Nevada and New Jersey as states with legalized sports betting.

Sports Betting in Florida

Florida’s State Legislators have yet to rule on answers to the double-barreled questions ‘is sports betting legal in Florida?’ and ‘is online sports betting legal in Florida?’ but appears to be only a matter of time until the lawmakers agree on how sports betting in Florida may be regulated and administered.

Watch this space for reports on the outcome of the rumored debates to occur in the Florida State House this coming fall legislative season.

In the meantime, there are some limited land-based sports betting options In Florida. The one outstanding exception to Florida’s ban on land-based sports betting is jai alai. On a visit to one of the two jai alai frontons in Florida (Miami and Dania Beach) you can bet on the outcomes of the games 100% legally and the two jai alai venues operate and accept legal bets.

Sports Betting Online

In Florida, Online Sports Betting is currently prohibited.

It’s important to note however, some State lawmakers in Florida have taken an interest in filling the state’s tax revenue coffers with receipts from legal online casino laws and gambling online in Florida.

The legal loophole exists whereby the state statute of Florida’s gambling laws are actually a little unclear on the legality of gambling online. Given the unclear nature of the way the law is written, Florida’s lawmakers may well have the opportunity already to rule on legal online sports betting without being required to change the current laws. Time-will-tell as the legalization process of online sports betting unfolds in Florida.

For the time being, DFS, online betting on horse and greyhound racing and skills games are all legal ways for the online sports bettor to wager in Florida.

Casinos in Florida

World-class casino facilities exist in Florida (there are a lot of them – more than 80) and most are located on Native Seminole Tribal Lands. Florida’s residents and visitors also have the option to go on ‘cruises to nowhere’ and play casino games (including craps and roulette, which are not readily available at Florida’s Tribal Casinos) and bet legally on sports in international waters. ‘Slots casinos’ are also legal in Broward and Miami-Dade counties.

Florida’s Land-based & Cruise Casinos

Between the Cruise Casinos, the Tribal Casinos and the slots casinos of Miami and Fort Lauderdale, there are more than 80 casinos across the state with more than 25 300 slots and gaming machines in total. According to the results of our researchers, bets at Florida’s casinos range from a minimum of $0.01 to a maximum of $1000. As noted above in the section on ‘Florida legal gambling age’, there is some variation in the legal minimum ages for casino gambling in Florida. Minimum age required for poker and horse racing betting at casinos is 18 whilst the age raises to 21 for legal participation with the gaming machines in Florida’s casinos.

Online Casinos in Florida

Online Casinos are illegal in the Sunshine State. Whilst an unsuccessful attempt was made to legalize online poker in the Florida State House of Representatives with bill HB 77 back in 2011, Florida remains on the ‘illegal’ side of the online casino column thanks to the state’s politicians receiving hefty donations from billionaire Sheldon Adelson, one of the biggest land-based-casino-owners around.

For now, potential online players in the state of Florida should accept that online casino gambling is illegal and avoid playing both off-shore and U.S. based online casinos.

Please section above on ‘Sports Betting Online’ for loophole possibilities in Florida’s gambling laws that may expedite the online casino legalization process.

Horse Racing Betting in Florida

Residents of, and visitors to the state of Florida have an abundance of legal options for on course and off-track betting locations and online horse racing betting sites.

Track Side: Assisted by the state’s sunny weather and warm temperatures, there are 13 Horse Racing tracks in the State of Florida and 7 live greyhound racing tracks.

Off-Track Betting (OTB): The State of Florida has a huge and extensive network of OTB locations throughout the Sunshine State. You are never more than approximately 40 minutes-drive from the nearest OTB in Florida.

Online Betting on Horse Racing in Florida: All major online horse racing betting sites operating in the United States accept customers from the Sunshine State of Florida and offer real money betting action on all the big U.S. races (Triple Crown, Arkansas Derby, Kentucky Derby etc.) and international horse racing for residents of Florida and the state’s many tourist visitors.

Florida’s Daily Fantasy Sports Laws

In terms of U.S. Federal Law legalization, Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) are totally exempt from any Federal gambling bans. DFS is determined by the nation’s Federal lawmakers to be contest of skill, rather than a gambling game of random chance and many state governments agree with the Federal ruling including Florida.

While Florida has no set laws determining that DFS is legal in the Sunshine State, it doesn’t set out to deliberately deem DFS illegal either.

In all attempts to formally pass DFS legalization bills in Florida (Bills S840, H223, and SB 374), the stumbling block has been to appease the Seminole Tribe whilst allowing DFS sites to operate.

Meanwhile, whilst Florida’s State Legislators and the Seminole Tribe thrash out the fine print, all the major DFS companies are able to legally accept players from the Sunshine State to participate in their real money DFS competitions.

What is DFS Exactly?

While many of Florida’s 20 million residents are already playing DFS regularly, many more have no idea of what a DFS competition really is.

A DFS competition, is a totally different and unique version of sports betting that varies greatly from a points-spread wager or a traditional win/loss sports bet. When playing a DFS league, a ‘salary cap’ is allotted for your virtual team which you use to budget buying players for your DFS team.

The real-world sports stars in each league are priced based on their real-world performances and career statistics (much the same as transfer fees in the real sports world). A superstar quarterback like Tom Brady of the New England Patriots, for example, will probably cost a lot more of your DFS budget than a struggling DeShone Kizer of the Cleveland Browns.

By selecting and ‘paying’ for Tom Brady will potentially leave a DFS contestant with much less money to spend on other quality players for their fantasy team. Consistently performing bargain players who don’t command such high ‘buy-in’ prices are the favourites of the best DFS contestants and feature in the highest scoring teams.

In an NFL DFS league, participants can choose a new fantasy NFL team each day or week: they invest a fixed amount of virtual money, spending from that budget on a quarterback, running backs, receivers, defensive linemen, linebackers, tight ends etc., with each player coming with their own price tag, set internally by the fantasy sports businesses. Points are accumulated based the performances of the players in the real-life games.

Winners of the largest contests offered by the major companies may possibly be paid $1 million or more for each competition during the NFL regular season. (NHL, MLB, NBA and college football in states where amateur sports are considered legal for DFS competitions are also offered).

Poker Laws in Florida

Live Poker can be enjoyed legally in Florida at the state’s Tribal Casinos, cruise casinos, horse and greyhound racing tracks and a wide network of poker rooms and card clubs. Live Poker Laws are sanctioned under Section 849.086 of the Florida State Statutes.

Online Poker Laws in Florida

Online Poker is a still unavailable for Florida online players at this time, but the topic seems to be under almost constant debate by the state’s legislators. Please refer to above sections ‘Online Casinos in Florida’, and ‘Sports Betting Online’ for further details on the legalization of online poker in Florida.

eSports Betting in Florida

With legal sports betting on the near horizon for Floridians, eSports betting will then assist players in the Sunshine State to win wagers in exciting new ways through never before seen betting markets that will create a brand-new revenue stream for the Florida State Government.

What are ‘eSports’?

Loosely defined as professional ‘video game play at the top level’, eSports continues to grow and evolve and as to grows, it has given rise to betting and wagering on the outcomes of the rich and widespread tournaments.

eSports is now a massive industry, where pros play an official network of professional gaming tournaments and leagues playing games like CS:GO, FIFA 18/19 and Fortnite). Tracing its ancestral roots back to groups of close friends hosting LAN parties and taking part in video game ‘all-niters’, the eSports industry shows no signs of slowing down. The annual eSports market will cross the $1 billion per annum thresh-hold in 2018/19 and prizes get richer with each succeeding tournament and crowds pack eSports arenas worldwide.

Where there is big money to be made of course, a network of sports bettors and sportsbooks coincide. Sportsbooks worldwide now offer international betting markets across all the major global eSports tournaments.

Legal betting on eSports could possibly help Florida’s State Legislators in navigating the sports betting legalization process as the new form of ‘egalitarian’ sports betting is untouched by the past mistakes of traditional sports betting types.

Benefits of Legal Gambling to Florida

  • According to an official Florida State Legislature Gambling Impact study in 2013, the gambling industry provides many jobs for under-educated members of the Florida population who may struggle to find gainful employment elsewhere.
  • A deal struck between the Seminole Tribe and the Florida State Government in 2017 has resulted in a 4.5% increase in gambling revenue for the state.
  • Further State Government Revenue could be generated for the state by legalizing online gambling and sports betting.
  • Gambling increases economic growth as a whole in Florida and provides revenue streams to pay for hurricane and other disaster readiness, positive education outcomes, improvements in the state’s health system, and better security-and-law-and-order services for the state’s residents.

History of Gambling in Florida

1931: Horse Racing legalized in Florida

1935-37: Slots machines legalized in Florida.

1970: Bingo legalized in Florida.

1984: Cruise Casinos established and run for the first time.
1988: Florida State Lottery created & first Seminole Tribal Casinos open.
2004: Slots machines legalized in Miami-Dade and Broward counties.
2007: Table Casino Games introduced to Seminole Tribal Casinos.
2010: Poker booms as buy-in laws eliminated and ‘No Limit’ games are legalized.
2011: Unsuccessful attempt at legalizing online casinos with Bill HB 77.

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