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Florida has a complicated past with gambling. Some gaming is legal, but you’ll still have trouble finding casinos in Florida. What's the deal?

Just like Florida Man: Online Florida casinos are absolutely crazy

Florida has had a complicated past with gambling and although technically some forms of gambling are legal, you’ll have trouble finding casinos in Florida. Originally gambling was legalized in Florida as a way to generate revenue during the great depression. Between 1931 and 1935 horse racing, dog racing, slot machines, and Jai Alai betting (a Spanish ball and scoop sport) were all legalized.

Florida is complicated

Bingo was legalized in 1970 and in 1988 Florida created a state lottery, but table games such as craps and poker were still banned. A constant push and pull between liberal and conservative gambling policies has made Florida gambling laws opaque at best. Although there are no table game casinos in Florida, casinos can operate freely on tribal land, and keep up to date about online gambling laws here.

What is this, gambling for ants?

Table games have been allowed in Florida since 2001, but the games are restricted to casinos on tribal land or race tracks that provide pari-mutuel betting. Technically you can also play poker at home with your friends, but you are limited to a “penny-ante” and the winning limit is 10$ per player for a hand. If you’re playing poker with friends you also have to ensure that the premise is rented or owned by a participant. 

Take your sports bets and shove it

Although Jai Alai is a sport and can legally be bet on, other sports betting is officially illegal in Florida. You can technically have an office pool or sports pool with friends, as long as the total winnings aren’t more than $500 in a single day or $1,500 in a single week. If you run a sports bet you cannot charge a percentage of the winning or take more than five bets a day, otherwise, you would be considered an illegal bookie. Unlike the Gamble Colorado site which is legal.

Just book a cruise to nowhere

There are crafty ways that Floridians have gotten around the complicated gambling laws. One alternative is to go for a “cruise to nowhere”. As long as a cruise ship goes three miles into the Atlantic Ocean or nine miles into the Gulf of Mexico, they’re technically in international waters and are free to provide any form of gambling to customers, but our advice is to avoid the knife-wielding monkey fights. 

Magical internet casinos come to the rescue

Another way people in Florida are getting around the complicated gambling rules is by gambling online. There’s nothing illegal about gambling in another state, and a number of online casinos allow Floridians to register for accounts. Floridians have to be careful that they can transfer money in and out of these accounts and they may need to find a website that doesn’t report these investments as gambling payments.

Florida state law regarding gambling can be interpreted very broadly and it’s still unclear if online gambling is actually affected. According to section 849.08 of Florida’s state law “Whoever plays or engages in any game at cards, keno, roulette, faro, or other games 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.” 

Floridian’s don’t even know what they want

There have been moves by politicians to change these laws, but Floridians are conflicted. According to a poll in 2015, 34% of respondents wanted Nevada-style casinos allowed in Florida, while 33% wanted to restrict those types of casinos to tribal lands, and 20% would prefer to see all land-based casinos removed from the state. 

Some politicians have also adamantly been trying to ban online gambling, yet others are trying to draft legislation so that it can be used as a way to generate revenue for Florida. It’s still unclear what online gambling laws will look like in Florida, but if history is any indication, they probably won’t be straight forward

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