The casino gambling industry in Florida may not be the biggest or most lucrative. But it has for sure served as home to a trail-blazing and powerful group known as the Seminole Tribe of Florida.
With six casinos scattered throughout the state, and with the Hard Rock International brand in its pocket, the tribe carries mighty big weight in the Sunshine State. So much so that it behooves Florida lawmakers to consider the Seminole’s input on any legislation to expand gambling in the state.
This approach helped get a renegotiated compact ratified in Florida and in front of the US Department of the Interior to potentially legalize retail and online sports betting in the state.
For a brief time, that compact also included language that could have brought legal online casinos to Florida. In the special legislative session that led to ratification, though, legislators and the Seminole agreed to strip that language. As a result, no plans are in place for real-money online casinos to go live in the Sunshine State.
Still, Floridians can enjoy some of the mobile gambling experience via free-to-play online sweepstakes casinos, which offer slots and poker for virtual currency that can be redeemed for real money.
As it stands, real-money online gambling of any kind, including online casinos, remains illegal in the state of Florida.
That said, the federal governent is reviewing the renegotiated compact between the Seminole Tribe and Gov. Ron DeSantis, which could authorize mobile betting apps in Florida.
Previous negotiations between the tribe and the state had featured discussions surrounding internet gaming. When it this vertical in the compact, however, language suggested that the Seminole and Florida lawmakers could pick up online casino conversations down the road.
The State and the Tribe agree to engage in good faith negotiations within thirty-six (36) months after the Effective Date of this Compact to consider an amendment to authorize the Tribe to offer all types of Covered Games online or via mobile devices to players physically located in the state (…)
Ultimately, members of the state House, including House Speaker Chris Sprowles, agreed that some language within the compact “could be construed to lead to the backdoor expansion of online gaming. Even the mere possibility of this was unacceptable.”
The Seminole and DeSantis agreed to remove mention of online casinos, opening the door for what ultimately became compact ratification.
This question may depend on how the federal government and courts perceive the legality of sports betting as written out in the latest compact agreement between the state and the Seminole Tribe.
As noted, language within the compact currently carves out at least three partnerships with pari-mutuel facilities located off tribal land, allowing those properties to launch mobile betting apps under their own brand but using the Seminole platform.
It seemed as if the only thing keeping lawmakers from including online casino language in the compact was how it might be deemed as a violation of state law in regard to gambling expansion. But if the federal government and courts determine mobile betting to be legal, that could open the door for online casinos.
For now, though, it’s a waiting game.
While real-money online casino gaming remains illegal in Florida, the Seminole Tribe has dipped its toes into the social casino waters with two platforms.
Available via desktop and on mobile devices for Android and iOS users, Seminole Social Casino features a variety of progressive, jackpot and classic slots as well as popular table games such as blackjack, roulette and baccarat.
Players can earn free coins each day, and they can link their Seminole Wild Card account to begin accruing casino rewards.
The Seminole Tribe and Hard Rock International, acquired by the Seminole in 2007, announced in December 2020 the launch of an interactive gaming and sports betting platform known as Hard Rock Digital.
While still in development, the product would be bank-rolled by the Seminole Tribe and its partners. Few other details have emerged since regarding what exactly will be offered through Hard Rock Digital, it has been dubbed the exclusive “vehicle for interactive gaming and sports betting, globally.”
Players won’t find real-money online gambling in the Sunshine State, but online sweepstakes casinos such as Chumba Casino, LuckyLand Slots and Funzpoints provides something of an online casino outlet.
Also known as social casinos, sweepstakes sites use virtual currencies rather than real money. In addition, these sites do not have a “consideration” element, allowing operators to stay within the bounds of the law. Players can take part in sweepstakes games without having to risk any real money.
With over 70 slots games available, as well as blackjack and video poker, Chumba Casino has become one of the most popular sweepstakes-based online casinos. The site offers plenty of incentives to players, including various ways to accumulate Sweeps Coins, which can be exchanged for real money.
As simple as it sounds, the name says it all. LuckyLand Slots serves as a slots-centric social online casino with roughly 30 slots games exlusive to its site. Like Chumba, LuckyLand works on both Gold Coins and Sweeps Coins, the latter of which can be redeemed for cash.
Players at Funzpoints at find both slots and daily jackpot drawings as well as a keno game. They can also choose to play in the standard free-play mode or dive into the premium mode. In premium, players can rack up Premium Funzpoints currency that can be exchanged for cash.