Florida Online Gambling

Latest news on sports betting, online casinos and gambling in Florida

Although Florida is better known for its beaches, weather, and retirement opportunities, it is well on its way to becoming the largest state with significant gambling options. Between its casinos and combined racetrack-casinos (“racinos”), Florida has more than 30 gambling venues scattered across the state. In addition, you can play lottery games and daily fantasy sports.

Florida is soon to be home to sports betting, too, and you’ll be able to wager on sporting events both online and at a retail sportsbook near you. Obviously, things are changing quickly in the Sunshine State, even if online casinos are not included in those changes. We have news and information about your options for gambling, whether it’s online or in person.

Read on for the latest about what you can bet on, where you can gamble and how betting works in Florida.

Legal Gambling Options in Florida

Online Casinos

Florida is not home to any online casinos at this time. There have been efforts to legalize online casino play in years past, but none of them have borne any fruit so far. Lawmakers may circle back around to the issue in the future. To play online legally, Floridians have social and sweepstakes casino options available. All of them are free to play. The best of the bunch are Chumba Casino and Luckyland Slots.

There are also seven land-based casinos located in the Sunshine State. All of them are tribal locations and owned by the Seminole Tribe or the Miccosukee Tribe. The largest of them is the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa.

Online Poker

Online poker is not permitted under Florida state law at this time. There do not seem to be any significant efforts to push for legalization, either. Your best option for playing cards against others with your mobile device or computer is Global Poker, a social casino with a sweepstakes element that allows you to play for actual prizes.

However, more than two dozen poker rooms offer service around the state at various casinos and racinos, and there are major tournament events that take place each year. If you want to play cards in Florida, you have many options at your disposal, as long as you don’t mind getting in the car.

Online Sports Betting

Barring some sort of major meltdown in court, sports betting in Florida is certain to debut in a matter of months. Lawmakers enacted a series of laws to change the state’s compact with the Seminole Tribe and pave the way for online and retail sports betting in the Sunshine State.

In essence, the Seminoles have the exclusive right to offer sports betting. However, they are allowed to partner with various racinos around the state in exchange for a significant cut of the profits. These partnerships would cover both online and retail betting. You can also expect Hard Rock Sportsbook to be a big part of the conversation since the Seminoles own Hard Rock International.

Florida Lottery

At present, the Florida Lottery does not offer any possibilities for online play. All lottery games are required to be purchased through a retail outlet.

However, there are plenty of different game options for you to experience if you can make it to one of the 13,000 retail locations for the Florida Lottery. Multi-state draw games like Powerball and Mega Millions are available throughout the Sunshine State, along with more homegrown options like Florida Lotto and the Grouper. The Florida Lottery also offers a myriad of scratchers for play, so, although you must participate in person, you are never short on opportunities to play the lottery in Florida.

Horse Betting

There are various live racing options around the state, and each one offers you the opportunity to bet on the ponies. Of the five racetracks in the state, the top of the food chain is Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach. The venerable track is the most popular of the five and hosts the Florida Derby and the Pegasus World Cup each year.

In addition to the five tracks, more than a dozen off-track betting locations are scattered throughout Florida. Many of these venues double as racinos, too, and offer the opportunity to play games beyond horse betting, like poker or betting on jai alai. Florida law allows its residents to place bets on horse races online, too, on sites like TVG.

Daily Fantasy Sports

Daily fantasy sports (DFS) play in Florida remains in a state of uneasy approval. While there is no law specifically on the books about the practice, there have been statements from officials that at least some of the games might not be in compliance with state law.

As it stands, Floridians can take part in DFS action on several of the top sites, including DraftKings and FanDuel. For the moment, it appears unlikely that anything will change about that fact.

How to gamble online safely in Florida

You can find site after site claiming that online casinos, online sports betting, and online poker is perfectly legal in Florida. However, we’ve said — rather pointedly — that online casinos and poker are not legal in Florida, and that online sports betting is not available just yet. So what are these gambling sites that accept players in Florida? The reality is that the sites that you are seeing are based outside of the US. Playing on an offshore site is inherently risky. However, the legality of playing on one of these outlets is actually the least of your concerns.

Unfortunately, you are unlikely to have any kind of legal protection available to you should things go wrong. These sites do not have to comply with any type of US business standards or ethics, and you might find yourself without many avenues for recourse if you get into a dispute with one of them. You also cannot verify whether you are gambling with a legitimate company. There’s no way to tell whether the site is fairly managed. Remember — you have to submit your financial and personal information to play, and that’s a scary thought when you don’t know who’s on the other end of the line.

Furthermore, any site with a financial component is a target for hackers, and a weak security system could spell disaster for bettors who entrusted their data with the online casino. Taking this kind of risk is simply not a good idea.

How can I tell the difference?

Here are five ways to verify that the site you’re using is legit:

  1. Look for references to the Florida Gaming Control Commission or the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel florida dbpr sealWagering. These state agencies are the regulators in charge of gaming in the state, and real sites will be sure to mention them in that role. You might also look for the seal of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, of which the division is a part, or the seal of the State of Florida (both are shown to the right).
  2. Look for a reference to the Seminole Tribe. This instruction is certainly specific to Florida, but it’s undeniable that almost every form of gambling has the tribe’s fingerprints on it. So, if you see language about the tribe’s involvement, there’s a good chance it’s the real deal.
  3. Look for a domestic address in the contact details. Legitimate sites will have a base of operations inside the US, if not in Florida itself. For a business to set up shop in the US, it must do so under the watchful eyes of the US legal system. A site based outside the US is, well, probably an offshore site.
  4. Check the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering or the Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability (OPPAGA) websites for references to the gambling site. If it’s a regulated business, the government will certainly have a record of it. If you cannot find it listed, then it’s a problem. However, be aware of the fact that many companies register under different names. So, if you see a registered site that doesn’t immediately ring any bells, make sure to Google them to see if that’s your site.
  5. Contact the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering. If you’re still not sure about the site, call the regulators or email them. Webpages are sometimes out of date, but we’re certain that someone at this agency can give you a straight, accurate, and trustworthy answer.

The bottom line is that you need to take care with your money and information. If you have any concern about a site whatsoever, even if it’s just a gut feeling, you shouldn’t play.

Florida gambling law and history

Florida has a long history with legal gambling. The legislature first approved wagering nearly a century ago, and the state has introduced and dismissed numerous flavors of gambling games in the time since. In fact, one of the most striking aspects of Florida’s relationship with its gambling offerings is the amount of changes that have taken place. Whereas most states expand gambling in broad omnibus legislation, Florida has nibbled its way to its current status over the course of more than 90 years. So, the timeline you see below has more entries than most states usually have, but it’s the only way to catalog the Sunshine State’s history with gambling accurately.

1931

The first bit of legal gambling comes to Florida. Unsurprisingly, the bill legalizes racing and pari-mutuel betting on the outcome of the races. Both horses and dogs are permitted to race, although dog racing finally comes to an end in 2021. The racing bill passed when the legislature overrode the veto from Gov. Doyle E. Carlton. Carlton was known for his opposition to gambling and reportedly refused a $100,000 payment (bribe) to sign the bill. However, his opposition was not well-received in the state — a year prior, two men had been arrested for attempting to assassinate the governor due to his stance on gambling.

1935

The legislature adds jai alai as a wagerable sport under Florida law. At the same time, lawmakers also make slot machines legal in the Sunshine State. Unfortunately, both activities would be plagued by troubles during the following years. Slot machines are banned only two years later in 1937, and don’t return to legal venues in the state until 2004. Jai alai flourishes for a time, but the industry tanks in the 1990s and all but disappears until recently.

1970

Lawmakers add another type of gambling to Florida’s roster with bingo. As is the case with most states, bingo is approved for charitable organizations only. For the most part, prizes cannot be higher than $100. However, in 1979, the Seminole Tribe challenges the state on the prize amount limit and begins offering high-stakes bingo in Hollywood. To no one’s surprise, the state sues the tribe, but loses in the following year and clears the way for the debut of multiple high-stakes bingo parlors in the state.

1986

Florida voters overwhelmingly approve the introduction of lottery games in the state. In fact, Amendment 5 passes by almost a 2 to 1 margin. The institution thus created is the Florida  Lottery, and its proceeds go toward funding education endeavors in the state. In the years of the commission’s service, Florida’s schools have benefitted from more than $40 billion in contributions from ticket sales.

1988

The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act passes and changes the entire face of gambling in the US. Federally recognized Native American tribes are suddenly empowered to negotiate compacts with their resident state governments to open casino locations. In Florida, the two groups that fit the criteria are the Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida and the Seminole Tribe of Florida. However, the Seminoles are the only group that can offer full-service gambling options. Both are now casino owners in the state.

1989

Poker finally becomes a legal activity in Florida — at least, in some regard. The legislature allows home games to proceed so long as pots don’t exceed a whopping $10. Because of the language of the IGRA, poker then becomes possible at the tribal locations, albeit with the same pot limits. Seven years later, in 1996, the game became legal at pari-mutuel/jai alai locations. However, it takes another 14 years and three adjustments to the law before the pot caps are removed and no-limit hold’em (among other games) becomes available.

2004

In one of the narrowest margins of victory possible, voters approve a constitutional amendment to allow the placement of slot machines in facilities located in Miami-Dade and Broward counties. Though more than 7.1 million votes are cast, “no” votes only come up short by roughly 110,000 votes. In other words, the split is actually less than 51/49. Once again, due to the language of the IGRA, the Seminoles and Miccosukees gain the ability to place slot machines at their facilities with this vote, too.

2021

Gov. Ron DeSantis signs off on a change to the Seminoles’ tribal compact that allows for the introduction of both retail and online sports betting in April. The language is highly favorable to the tribe and creates an infrastructure that would give the Seminoles a piece of every single sports bet in Florida. The change passes through both the Florida House of Representatives and the Senate in less than a month. The federal government allowed the compact to be added to the Federal Register, which does not signal approval. Multiple lawsuits are ongoing regarding the legality of the compact’s change, but sports betting in Florida could potentially begin in November.

Outlook for online gambling in Florida

The difficulty that Florida is experiencing regarding sports betting’s legalization is a key insight to the prospect of bringing other bits of gambling to life in the Sunshine State. In particular, online casinos and online poker are obvious choices for the next phase of online gambling in Florida. However, as is the case in fellow large state California, Florida struggles with the fact that there are powerful stakeholders at cross purposes with one another on the issue.

The Seminole Tribe has to be involved in the discussions for other types of gambling because of the tribe’s tremendous annual contributions to the state budget. Levies from the tribe’s casino locations pump roughly $350 million into Florida’s government every single year. The tribe — well aware of its tax bill — has not been shy about using these payments as a negotiating tactic, either. So, any expansion would have to give the Seminoles their piece of the pie.

At the same time, as the lawsuits indicate, there are other gaming companies in the state. The various racinos scattered around Florida have a significant financial interest in the Sunshine State themselves and do not want to see the Seminoles gifted such a large chunk of the market. Although their political power from the financial perspective pales in comparison to the tribe’s contributions, they still have plenty of resources to pursue the matter in court and tie up expansions for years.

The bottom line is that as a state’s size increases, its complexity for passing laws usually does, too. No gambling expansion in large states like Florida, Texas, or California can proceed without an extraordinarily deft compromise written into the legislation. So, don’t expect expansion to come soon.

Florida Online Gambling FAQ

Is online gambling legal in Florida?

It depends on what you mean. There are some ways to gamble online, including daily fantasy sports, horse betting, and social casinos. Sports betting is likely soon to join once it gets some legal wrinkles ironed out. However, online casinos and poker remain illegal in the Sunshine State.

What online casinos can I play in Florida?

None. There are no legal and regulated online casinos that you can play in Florida. However, there are several social and sweepstakes casinos that allow you to win real money prizes for free. The most notable of these sites are Chumba Casino, Luckyland Slots, Funzpoints, and Global Poker.

Can I bet on sports in Florida?

Not yet. Sports betting is legal thanks to April 2021 changes to the state’s compact with the Seminole Tribe. However, ongoing litigation to enjoin the move has placed the launch of sports betting in question. It will almost certainly happen soon, but we cannot give you a firm timeframe just yet.

Who oversees legal gambling in Florida?

The Florida Gaming Control Commission and the Division of Parimutuel Wagering. However, in terms of immediate operations, the best bet is to go to the Division of Parimutuel Wagering. As gaming expands in Florida, the GCC will become more relevant, but most of the gaming in the state runs through the pari-mutuel division.

What is the legal gambling age in Florida?

For the most part, 18-year-olds can play poker, lottery games, and bet at pari-mutuel facilities in Florida. However, casino games like slots and table games require patrons to be 21. Sports betting requires customers to be 21, as well.

How many Florida poker rooms are there?

Nearly every casino in Florida offers poker. But the game is not restricted just to those properties. Including other establishments that legally offer poker, more than 30 card rooms exist in the Sunshine State. All told, players in Florida can find action at more than 800 poker tables at casinos, racetracks, and jai alai frontons.

Is dog racing legal in Florida?

No. Dog racing became illegal in Florida after the passage of Amendment 13 in 2020. Nearly 70% of voters moved to disallow betting on greyhound races. All of the state’s greyhound tracks have either closed or refocused on poker and/or simulcast wagering. So, if you see references to kennel clubs or greyhound racetracks, double check to see if there are still activities going on there.

Resources

Gamble responsibly: Where to go for help

Problem gambling and gambling addiction are real problems that afflict Floridians. With so many casinos and racinos in the state, there are many opportunities to lose control. Thankfully, there are several resources in the Sunshine State that can help you navigate the road to recovery.

The final option for problem gambling in Florida is self-exclusion. You can request that the proprietor of a gambling facility (or several) ban you from the property. After that point, you become civilly and (potentially) criminally liable if you come back onsite. In Florida, state law requires each facility to have a self-exclusion list, but each venue sets its own rules and keeps its own records. However, please be aware that only the gambler can place themselves on a self-exclusion list; friends and family are not permitted to put someone on a list as a proxy.

Learn more about responsible gambling in Florida.

Tribal gaming in Florida

There are two federally recognized tribes in Florida: the Miccosukee Tribe of Indians and the Seminole Tribe. Because the Miccosukee do not have a compact with the state, they are only permitted to offer Class II gaming — slots and bingo — at their casino. Therefore, the Seminoles are the only group in the state permitted to offer full-service gambling to Floridians.

This makes the Seminole Tribe by far the largest and most prominent tribe in the state, operating six casinos in the state plus a host of other Hard Rock International brands around the world. Its tribal casinos pump nearly $350 million into Florida’s government annually.

Card rooms in Florida

Florida is quietly a powerhouse in the poker world. There are more than two dozen cardrooms scattered across the state. The largest of them can seat hundreds of poker players at a time. Although their entry into the state was a bit tentative, there is now a legitimate argument to be made that Florida could be home base for serious poker players.

From humble beginnings, with a few fits and starts and legal adjustments, you can now find poker rooms and card rooms across Florida. The biggest card rooms can be found at Bestbet Poker in Jacksonville and at Seminole Hard Rock Casino in Tampa. You can also find card rooms at the state’s racinos, too.

Bets were originally limited to $2 before revisions to state laws in 2010 removed any mandated caps on buy-ins and bet sizes. Full-scale no-limit poker became acceptable and subject to each individual cardroom’s discretion. Thus, Florida’s poker scene has blossomed considerably in the last decade or so and has established Florida as one of the top-tier locations for poker players.

What is jai alai?

Jai alai is a sport whereby a ball is bounced off a walled space, or fronton, by accelerating it to high speeds with a hand-held basket or cesta. It gained popularity as a gambling alternative to horse racing, but over the years it has found a home and an avid following in Florida. The sport remains popular in the state where it is regulated by the Division of Parimutuel Wagering. Six frontons exist in the state at Dania Beach, Fort Pierce, Jasper, Casselberry, Miami, and Reddick.

Florida Lottery app

The Florida Lottery does have an app. It is available for both Apple and Android users. To answer the obvious question, it is not possible to buy tickets through the app. Instead, Florida Lottery players can use the app to check their tickets, monitor drawings, or save their favorite numbers for future picks. Essentially, it is an informational app only. Florida does not permit the purchase of lottery tickets through the internet in any format whatsoever.