Blackjack is a favorite table game among casino goers across the country, and that’s certainly true in Florida, as well. Additionally, even though online blackjack for real money isn’t a legal option in the Sunshine State, Floridians can play blackjack online at social and sweepstakes casinos.
If you’re seeking to learn more about Florida’s favorite house-banked card game, take a seat and we’ll deal you all you need to know.
Is it legal to play blackjack in Florida?
Yes, blackjack is legal in the state, although only at the six casinos that the Seminole Tribe of Florida owns and operates.
Where to play blackjack online in Florida
Online gambling for real money is illegal in the state, which is why you won’t find any real money online casinos in Florida. However, Floridians can still play casino-style games online via social and sweepstakes sites.
These sites use virtual currencies rather than real money for their games, and in some cases even let players redeem their winnings for cash prizes. Most such sites focus largely on slots, but a couple do offer a few table games, including free online blackjack.
Social and sweepstakes casinos in Florida with blackjack
- Pulsz — In addition to more than 200 slot titles and other casino-style favorites, Pulsz offers traditional Blackjack. In the past the site has also offered a second variant — Blackjack Lucky Sevens — that awarded a bonus if a player’s first three cards added up to seven.
- Chumba Casino — Another popular site with over 80 games in total, Chumba has multiple versions of blackjack including traditional Blackjack and a variant called Back Blackjack that includes a side bet on whether either the dealer or player makes blackjack.
Florida casinos with blackjack tables
Here are the six tribal casinos where you can play blackjack in person in Florida:
- Seminole Casino Brighton
- Seminole Casino Coconut Creek
- Seminole Casino Hotel Immokalee
- Seminole Classic Casino Hollywood
- Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood
- Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa
Of these locations, the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood and Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa feature the most blackjack tables. Both properties have close to 200 table games, with blackjack well-represented among them.
Be aware as well that several Florida casinos also feature electronic blackjack tables. These games play much the same as live dealer games, but without an actual dealer present.
Incidentally, you might also encounter electronic blackjack at some of the pari-mutuel facilities in Broward and Miami-Dade counties where slots are legal. However, you will not find live dealer blackjack at any of those non-tribal locations.
How to play blackjack
Blackjack uses a standard 52-card deck, although in many cases you’ll find that tables use multiple decks at once. In those cases, the decks form a “shoe” that contains all the cards.
Blackjack is a house-banked card game. That means players play against a dealer who represents the casino or “house” and not against one another as in poker. Usually, several players sit around a half-circle table so each can face the dealer.
In traditional blackjack, the object of the game is to collect cards that add up to 21 without going over. For the purposes of calculating your total, the 10, jack, queen and king are each worth 10; the 2 through 9 cards are worth the number that they show; and aces can be worth either one or 11 (the player can choose).
You start by receiving two cards, and the dealer gets two cards, as well. Both of your cards are face up, while the dealer has one face up and one face down. You place an initial bet before you start, and then you can make further betting decisions after receiving your first two cards.
You act before the dealer. You can either stand and draw no further cards or hit as many times as you like to draw additional cards. If your first two cards add up to 21 and give you blackjack, aka a “natural blackjack,” you obviously stand and draw no further cards.
When you’re done, it is the dealer’s turn. If the dealer has an ace showing or a 10 or a face card, the dealer will peek at the down card. If the dealer’s two cards equal 21 (a natural blackjack), the dealer will flip over the down card and the hand ends right there. If you didn’t also have a natural blackjack, the dealer wins. If you did, the hand is a push (a tie) and you get to take your bet back.
If the dealer doesn’t have blackjack, the dealer will either stand or hit just as you did. However, while you are free to stand or hit as you wish, the dealer must follow specific guidelines governing whether to draw additional cards. In Florida casinos, the dealer’s decisions are as follows:
- The dealer must draw to 16 and stand with 17 or higher.
- In select games, the dealer will hit a “soft 17” (a 17 that includes an ace that counts as 11).
Different ways to bet in blackjack
As noted, in blackjack you place an initial bet before receiving your cards. You generally have a minimum to a maximum bet, with the option to wager any amount in between.
After receiving your first two cards, you have more decisions to make. Some blackjack games involve special side bets and other ways of playing, but in traditional blackjack the most common betting options are as follows:
- Double down — You double your initial bet and receive just one more card.
- Split — If your two cards are of the same value, you can make a second bet and “split” the two cards into two separate hands, in which case the dealer will deal a second card to go with each.
- Surrender — If you dislike your first two cards, you can give up right there and lose the hand by surrendering only half your initial bet.
Another option that’s sometimes available is taking insurance. If the dealer has an ace showing, you can take insurance by betting half your initial wager that the dealer also has a 10-value card (and thus has a natural blackjack). Other blackjack variants offer additional betting options, which we discuss below.
Blackjack payout odds in Florida
What happens if you win a hand of blackjack in a Florida casino? How much money do you make?
Generally speaking, winning hands pay even money, which means a 1-to-1 payout. If you bet $20 and win, you get your $20 back plus another $20 ($40 total). You’ve doubled your money.
However, if you win with a natural blackjack — that is, your first two cards total 21 — you get more. You might win 3-to-2 on your money (e.g., for a $20 bet you’d win $30, getting back $50 total). Or you might win 6-to-5 on your bet (e.g., for a $20 bet you’d win $24, getting back $44 total). It depends on the casino and the game. Be sure to check the odds at your blackjack table to know exactly what winning with a natural blackjack pays.
There are also some side bets that pay out differently, including some that have very long odds.
Other blackjack variants in Florida casinos
Depending on the casino, you may also find some additional variants beyond traditional blackjack. Here’s a rundown of a few of the most popular ones:
- Blackjack Switch — Each player plays two blackjack hands. Before betting or drawing any additional cards, you have the option to switch the second cards between the two starting hands. After that, the two hands play as normal.
- Spanish 21 — This version uses a 48-card deck from which the 10s have been removed (among other rule changes).
- Double Exposure Blackjack — Like regular blackjack except both of the dealer’s two starting cards are visible.
- One Card Blackjack — Just like regular blackjack, only you start with one card instead of two and the object is to have the highest total without going over 11 instead of 21.
- Blazing 777’s Blackjack Progressive — A version of blackjack that involves progressive jackpots.
Novice players are likely going to prefer traditional blackjack over these variants, but more experienced players may enjoy these options. Before you sit down at a blackjack table, always be sure to look closely at the name of the game and clarify any special blackjack rules with the dealer.
Blackjack tournaments in Florida casinos
In blackjack tournaments, players pay an entry fee and then receive a starting stack of chips much like in a poker tournament. They then try to accumulate as many chips as possible. This means that players are actually competing against one another rather than against the house.
The history of blackjack laws in Florida
In 2010, after many years of negotiating, then-Gov. Charlie Christ and the Seminole Tribe agreed to a gambling compact. Lawmakers approved it, and the federal government did, as well. The new compact enabled the Seminoles to begin offering a number of Class III casino games at their properties. Whereas the compact excluded certain games like roulette and craps, it permitted other games such as slots and blackjack.
For the first few years, blackjack was only available at the tribe’s two largest casinos — Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood and Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa. Today, however, you can find blackjack tables at all of the Seminole properties.
The Seminole Tribe’s battle to maintain blackjack exclusivity
In 2015, the tribe and state came into conflict when the five-year provision allowing blackjack came to an end and needed a renewal. Then-Gov. Rick Scott negotiated a new agreement with the tribe, but the Legislature did not approve it amid ongoing antagonism between the tribe and pari-mutuel facilities. Some lawmakers were opposed to gambling in general, which also complicated matters.
The Seminole Tribe objected to pari-mutuel facilities being able to offer blackjack-like games, sometimes called “designated-player” card games. According to the Seminoles, these games violated the tribe’s blackjack exclusivity under the compact.
A lawsuit followed, and in 2017 the state ordered the non-tribal sites to stop offering their blackjack-like card games. However, the Seminoles subsequently stated that this prohibition was not receiving adequate enforcement, and the tribe halted all revenue payments to the state.
Starting in 2019, the tribe began negotiating a new compact with Gov. Ron DeSantis, and in 2021 the two sides came to an agreement. The tribe would not only be assured of its exclusivity over blackjack, but would be able to offer additional gambling options like roulette, craps and even sports betting.
The Legislature approved the new compact in May 2021. In August, the US Department of Interior neither approved nor denied the new compact, which allowed it to be published in the Federal Register and go into effect. In November, however, a federal judge ruled in favor of a lawsuit challenging the legality of the new compact, which meant it was vacated and the tribe and state reverted once more to the previous compact. That ruling is now under appeal.
As far as blackjack is concerned, it remains the case that, technically speaking, only the Florida Seminole Tribe can legally offer the game at its casinos.
Can I play blackjack at Florida card rooms?
Florida poker rooms are available at several pari-mutuel venues around the state. Some of these facilities even have slot machines to go along with the poker and (in many cases) also offer wagering on horse races. However, blackjack is not one of the legal gambling options at these locations.
As noted above, this has been a point of contention in Florida, particularly prior to 2017 when the state finally cracked down on pari-mutuel venues offering blackjack-like card games. In any case, strictly speaking, the only legal live blackjack currently available in Florida is at the Seminole casinos.