Florida Online Gambling: What Are My Legal Options?

While online gambling takes the US by storm (with more and more states reevaluating their anti-gambling laws), Florida seems to be moving in the opposite direction.

Currently, Florida does not offer many online gambling options. The state has been historically tough on gambling in general. While state laws don’t explicitly outlaw online gambling, the current state leadership is clear in its bias against online gambling. For now, there are only a few ways you can gamble online and legally in the Sunshine State.

When Will Online Gambling Come To Florida?

At the moment, the online gambling situation in Florida is legally complex. Here we will dive into Florida’s gambling laws so you can better understand the situation.

Current Florida Gambling Laws

The Florida Constitution is the main document that has upheld gambling restrictions in the state. While US Supreme Court decisions and federal laws have their influence, it’s this document that represents the backbone of Florida gambling regulations. Specifically, Chapter 849 deals with gaming laws and enforcement.

Various sections in Chapter 849 ban almost all forms of state casino gambling. However, federal regulations like the 1988 Indian Gaming Regulatory Act have allowed Native American tribes to host casino games on their territories. All a tribe has to do in order to set up a casino is sign a gaming compact with the state in which its sovereign reservation is located.

In Florida’s case, the Seminole tribe has a monopoly over most types of casino gaming in Florida. These brick-and-mortar casinos and racinos can exist because they are located on Native American land, which is not subject to Florida state law.

Gambling According To The Florida Constitution

Section 849.08 in the Florida Constitution states that anyone who, “plays or engages in any game at cards, keno, roulette, faro, or other game of chance, at any place, by any device whatsoever, for money or another thing of value, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the 2nd degree”. This clause explicitly spells out that it is forbidden to wager real money in gambling activities or unregulated games of skill in the state.

There is one big exception – jai alai. But the Florida Constitution still prohibits most gambling activities.

Laws About Online Gambling In Florida

Note that the above clause from the Florida Constitution doesn’t explicitly rule out all forms of modern online gambling. That being said, we don’t recommend taking your chances on the basis of nuance, as Florida law has historically been strictly enforced. Ultimately, it’s safe to say that real money online gambling is firmly illegal in Florida at this time.

Requirements For Legal Gambling In Florida

For the few gambling activities that are legal within Florida’s borders, you’ll need to be 18-years-old or 21-years-old (depending on the activity). 18-years-old is the minimum age to enter casinos, lottery, poker rooms, and more. 21-years-old is the minimum age for playing slot games.

Exceptions To Florida Anti-Gambling Laws

Although gambling laws in Florida are highly restrictive, there are several exceptions that have been made and legitimate loopholes that exist.

Florida Cruises That Go Into International Waters

If Florida residents (or visitors) board a cruise that navigates either three miles into the Atlantic Ocean or nine miles toward the Gulf of Mexico, they’ll be in international waters. As soon as they’ve entered international water, Florida state gaming laws no longer apply. This allows them to enjoy all kinds of gambling activities to their heart’s fullest desire.

Naturally, there are places in Florida where you can purchase tickets for these loophole excursions. They’re usually in touristy locations like Miami and Orlando, and the ships are set up for gaming. So, most people will not focus on online gambling during these excursions and instead opt for in-person options.

Florida State Lottery

The lottery is legal in Florida. However, tickets must be purchased in-person from retailers and there aren’t any online options.

Horse And Greyhound Racing In Florida

Horse and greyhound racing are both legal in Florida. That being said, all betting must take place are at specifically licensed facilities.

Live Poker In Florida

Live poker has been legal in Florida since 2001. However, it’s restricted to tribal casinos and certain racetracks. Recent years have seen relaxation of gambling legislation in relation to these activities. In 2010, the state removed the $100 buy-in limit that was in-place previously and extended poker room hours.

Tribal Casinos In Florida

Tribal casinos, as mentioned, are bastions of gambling activities that remain to this day. As soon as you step onto sovereign tribal territory, you can legally access and wager on an online gambling site.

However, the geo-tracking software that many legal US gambling sites use these days may still bar you from participating. They can’t always distinguish between sovereign tribal territory and the borders of your home state.

Social Poker In Florida

Social poker in Florida is a bit different. Legally speaking, you’re allowed to play poker within your own residence. But the game has to be “penny-ante” (not for money or for very small stakes). Indeed, Florida law stipulates that these poker games are limited to $10 per player for both an entire hand and an entire game.

Charitable Gambling In Florida

Florida allows certain gambling activities as long as they are specifically held for the benefit of a non-profit organization. Typical permitted activities include bingo and raffles.

Status Of Online Sports Betting In Florida

The year 2018 was a big year for sports betting across the United States. It saw the Supreme Court declare the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PAPSA) unconstitutional. This decision allowed states to determine their own sports betting laws.

That said, sports betting hasn’t made much progress in Florida. The state, as a whole, is very anti-gambling. However, this isn’t to say that there haven’t been attempts to authorize retail sportsbooks and online sports betting.

Florida Senate Bill (SB) 968 To Make Sports Betting Legal

Introduced in November 2019, SB 968 is the most recent attempt from Florida lawmakers to make sports betting legal in the state. However, this bill faces several roadblocks.

Specifically, Florida voters approved a ballot in 2018 called Amendment 3. This ballot, which was also backed by the Seminole Tribe and the Walt Disney Company, prohibited expanding gambling without a statewide vote.

This basically means that the SB 968, if it does indeed pass, will need to face a statewide vote before it can become law. As a result, online sports betting in Florida isn’t likely to be legalized anytime soon.

There is some hope, though. The Seminole Tribe recently refused to pay the Florida government over $300 million in fees over a business dispute. So, the state may need additional tax income both for general operation and coronavirus relief. By allowing sports betting, Florida could follow the example of Pennsylvania and New Jersey and reap the revenue benefits of gambling taxes.

Perhaps, in the future, Florida will change its attitude toward gambling and elect more progressive-minded lawmakers.

Florida Jai Alai Sports Betting

Betting on jai alai, a traditional basque sport, is actually legal in Florida. However, the sport is very niche, and it is unlikely that you will find an jai alai organization that offers online betting.

Status Of Online Casinos In Florida

Online casinos are not legal in Florida. In 2014, Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed House Bill (HB) 155, which made sweepstakes internet cafes illegal in the state. The bill explicitly targeted cafes that provide rewards through the exchange of Sweeps Coins.

Today, Florida politicians continue to equate sweepstakes gambling with real money gambling. For that reason, it seems unlikely that Florida will legalize online casino gambling anytime soon.

Status Of Online Poker In Florida

Although it is not explicitly prohibited in the Florida Constitution, poker is still essentially illegal. While many people consider poker to be more skill-based than luck-based, Florida law enforcement doesn’t agree.

Florida Online Gambling In Summary

All in all, online gambling in Florida is both illegal and in a tenuous position. Florida law enforcement doesn’t regularly hunt down people who participate in online gambling. The law doesn’t explicitly forbid online gambling on paper.

However, the general understanding in Florida is that online gambling is illegal. As such, there aren’t any legal state operators at this time aside from a few niche exceptions.

What Online Gambling Options Are Allowed in Florida Today?

Despite all the aforementioned restrictions, there are still some options available if players want to participate in online gambling. Many of these options involve the sweepstakes betting model.

Instead of betting real money, players receive Sweeps Coins for signing up and participating in promotions. Players can also obtain Sweeps Coins as a gift with the purchase of a Gold Coins package. Sweeps Coins are the currency for sweepstakes games, and can be exchanged for real prizes.

Ultimately, the sweepstakes model serves as a legal alternative to real money gambling, allowing players to earn real prizes (that can include real money) in a roundabout way.

Sweepstakes Poker Sites In Florida

One of the best options for online poker in Florida is Global Poker. The sweepstakes website is active 24 hours daily, allowing players to enjoy poker against live opponents around the clock.

Global Poker can be accessed on any desktop browser. It offers a variety of poker games (including No-Limit Texas Hold ‘Em), although falls short of the number offered at a brick-and-mortar casino.

A variety of tournaments and poker games of different limits are open for players. These games range from multi-table tournaments to “Sit N’ Gos”. The platform is pretty stable, and players shouldn’t expect any service interruptions or digital downsides.

Signing up for Global Poker is pretty quick and easy. Not a lot of personal information is required until it becomes time to cash out.

Players can purchase Gold Coins and earn Sweeps Coins through a variety of methods. In most cases, they will receive free Sweeps Coins by purchasing Gold Coins with debit cards or other payment options.

Sweepstakes Casinos In Florida

Sweepstakes casinos are a legal alternative to online casino gambling. These are still totally legal in Florida but shouldn’t be played at sweepstakes Internet cafés. These locations have been targeted by law enforcement, so you’re better off partaking in these gambling activities at home.

Chumba Casino

Of the available sweepstakes options, Chumba Casino is a great pick. New players will immediately benefit from a package of free Sweeps Coins upon sign up. Sweeps Coins winnings can later be exchanged for real prizes.

Chumba Casino also provides a regular spread of promotions and opportunities to earn Sweeps Coins. Players will be able to earn plenty of coins without spending too much cash. Email offers, daily competitions, and long-term promotions all combine to flood players’ account with enough Sweeps Coins to last a while.

The website is pretty easy to use and navigate. It has a large game catalog that can be browsed on a single screen. While Chumba Casino doesn’t currently offer a mobile app, the browser-based interface is fine for most folks’ needs. However, players who wish to browse and play games using their smartphones can still do so, as the website is optimized for mobile.

Chumba Casino offers 36 games, two of which are card games: Blackjack and Jacks or Better. The rest are slots games, including three progressive jackpot slots that can pool into big cash out prizes.

LuckyLand Slots

If you’re more of a slots fan, you can try out LuckyLand Slots. This online casino also uses a sweepstakes model, and Sweeps Coins are gifted with the purchase of Gold Coin bundles. Additional Sweeps Coins can be earned through social media competitions and promotions.

Although LuckyLand is most accessible through its browser interface, it also offers an Android mobile app. Note that anyone using the browser interface will need to download an additional client to play games on display. This allows the games to show off their fancy 3-D graphics in all their glory and keeps each game experience smooth and lag-free.

The game variety at LuckyLand is decent, offering 26 original slot games. All told, this casino is a great option for people who prefer slots.

Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) In Florida

Daily fantasy sports (DFS) are a legal gray area in Florida. The fact of the matter is that daily fantasy sport sites have been operating within Florida borders for years. There haven’t been any big crackdown on their activities or any concerted effort from the government to shut them down.

Since DFS straddles the line between an activity of skill and chance, they cannot clearly fall into Florida’s definition of gambling. Unlike poker, federal laws haven’t really boxed daily fantasy sports into activities of chance. The argument is that the success at DFS hinges on knowledge of real athlete’s statistics.

For now, Floridians can enjoy daily fantasy sports with two major online DFS providers: DraftKings and Monkey Knife Fight.

DraftKings Daily Fantasy Sports

DraftKings is easily one of the most well-known DFS providers, offering an excellent app for both iOS and Android. They’re also a great pick for new players thanks to several sign-up promotions and bonuses.

The popularity of the provider also makes it easy to find people to wager with at any time of the day or week. It offers several different withdrawal and deposit methods.

Innovative features and a huge variety of wager types helps DraftKings stand out among competitors. All kinds of players will find something to like here, whether its moment to moment action or long-term, season bets.

DraftKings offers wagering on these sports:

  • NBA
  • NFL
  • NHL
  • MLB
  • MLS
  • PGA
  • NASCAR
  • MMA
  • eSports

Monkey Knife Fight (MKF) Daily Fantasy Sports

MKF is a newer face in the DFS sphere, but it’s a worthwhile competitor. The platform offers cash games and tournaments, and new players, of course, receive deposit bonuses.

The website is pretty easy to navigate, as there’s a single sidebar you can use for all your major controls or account destinations. Switching sports, contests, or betting types can be done with just a few clicks. Unfortunately, there isn’t a mobile app at this time, but the main website is already optimized for mobile.

Depositing is made easy, as you can use any major credit card. There is a minimum deposit requirement of $10.

The only real downside to using their platform over DraftKings is that it doesn’t offer nearly as many sports on which to wager. Currently, it offers:

  • NBA
  • NHL
  • MLB
  • PGA
  • Football (Coming soon.)

Overall, Monkey Knife Fight is a great option for anyone who has already used DraftKings and is looking for something a little fresher.

Betting On Horse Races In Florida

Unfortunately, live horse and greyhound racing are on their way out in Florida as of 2018. Amendment 13 outlaws these activities at in-person Florida establishments.

However, online horse and greyhound racing will not be affected. The amendment only bans wagers from being placed on races held within Florida borders. So, online providers are still set.

TVG Online Horse And Greyhound Racing Website

TVG is perhaps the most well-known and best online betting platform for horse and greyhound racing. It provides coverage for horse races at over 150 tracks around the world. 24/7 action isn’t hard to find through its multiple streams.

In fact, it even provides an additional channel called TVG2. After setting up an account at TVG, you’ll get access to both channels. This means you’ll be able to participate in horse race and greyhound race betting immediately.

The platform comes with a user friendly interface that’s easy to navigate and provides you with streaming tools so you can locate your favorite race in just a few clicks. You’ll be able to make bets of multiple types, and even a few exotic wagers. Specialty wagering options at TVG are open to all account holders, although these options may be specific to certain tracks and operators.

Signing up for an account with TVG takes only a few minutes. If you’re a new player, you’ll benefit from certain bonuses like loss-free bets up to $300. Or, if you join through certain promotional campaigns, you might even earn a $1,000 bankroll. Look out for other promotions, which can include prizes into the tens of thousands of dollars.

Depositing money to TVG is easy as the site accepts multiple payment methods. Some of these methods are free while others charge a small fee. The same concept applies for withdrawals.

Ultimately, TVG is a great way to enjoy online horse race and greyhound race betting in Florida. These sports may be on their way out the door in the real, brick-and-mortar world, but not online.

Online Lottery Options In Florida

Florida provides three main lottery options: the Florida Lottery and the intrastate games Mega Millions and Powerball. The Florida Lottery is mostly made up of draw games that can be monitored using the main Florida Lottery site.

Unfortunately, Florida doesn’t sell any lottery tickets online. It also doesn’t provide a lottery subscription service. Unlike states like New York, it doesn’t even provide a way for you to track your lottery chances or wins through an app.

Currently, you can only participate in the lottery in Florida by purchasing tickets in-person at retail locations.

Live Sports Betting In Florida

Floridians have a single live sports betting option within their borders: jai alai. Jai alai is a sport primarily played in Spain, the southwest of France, and Latin American countries. It involves bouncing a ball off of a walled space using a handheld wicker device called a cesta.

Jai alai first came to Florida in Miami during the 1920s. Florida possesses a warm climate, and immigrants from Latin America, Spain, and the Caribbean all congregated in the state to avoid cold winters. The 1950s saw the sport boom in Florida, and fronton courts were built soon after.

The 1960s and 70s saw Florida relax some of its gambling laws relating to jai alai in order to enjoy more income. However, jai alai eventually began to decline in popularity. It’s now almost gone everywhere, but you can still find games in Florida. These are kept around mostly so that fronton owners can keep real money poker games and slot machines on their property. So long as jai alai is offered, the establishment falls under those relaxed gambling laws and isn’t doing anything illegal.

This means you can participate in live sports betting at any jai alai fronton. However, you’re limited to placing bets on jai alai itself. Other sports are, of course, not offered. So it’s really only good if you’re a fan of jai alai.

What’s Holding Florida Back From Legalizing Online Gambling?

Online gambling legislation is rapidly changing all across the country. While Florida has somewhat relaxed its gambling laws over the years, it is still behind the times.

Florida is dragging its feet when it comes to gambling legalization for a few interesting reasons:

  • Big companies like the Walt Disney Corporation have a ton of sway when it comes to Florida politics and building arrangements. Disney has opposed the legalization of gambling in Florida, as it likely wants to preserve Florida’s image as a family-friendly state for as long as possible. It has an interest in maintaining this image, as Florida is home to several major facilities including its biggest theme park, Walt Disney World.
  • Florida also has a very high population of retirees and generally elderly people. These folks tend to be more conservative than average and are more likely to hold rigid beliefs about the morality and legality of gambling. This makes it difficult for legislators who want to legalize online gambling to drum up support from the general Florida population.

However, no one can deny that legalizing online gambling is a proven method for increasing state revenue. States like New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and New York have driven that point home. Perhaps, in the future, the people of Florida will see these benefits and minds will change regarding online gambling.

Legal Online Gambling In Florida FAQ

Are there legal online casinos in Florida?

You can play at online casinos in Florida as long as they operate according to a sweepstakes model. It is illegal to wager with real money or provide prizes directly. Sweepstakes casinos technically get around this limitation by offering you Sweeps Coins, which you can exchange indirectly to earn real prizes.

The only way you can participate in real money online casino gambling in Florida is if you head out into international waters. Some websites, which identify users’ whereabouts with geolocation software, may still identify you as in Florida. However, many will recognize that you are no longer within state lines.

Are there any online sportsbooks that operate legally in Florida?

At this time, there are no online sportsbooks legally operating within Florida borders. To participate, you will have to leave the state or venture into international waters.

What are some states close to Florida that offer legal online sports betting?

Delaware, Rhode Island, and Mississippi are the geographically closest states to Florida that allow legal online sports betting. Florida is in something of a gambling dry spot compared to other states in the union.

Washington, DC recently passed legislation that may lead to the legalization of online sports betting. This would make Washington, DC the territory closest to Florida for you to get your online sports betting fix. Until then, Mississippi and Delaware are your closest options.

Can I legally play DraftKings in Florida?

Yes. However, you may only use the DraftKings app for daily fantasy sports and may not legally engage with the sportsbook feature.

Can I legally play FanDuel in Florida?

Like DraftKings, you may use the FanDuel app for daily fantasy sports. However, you may not legally use it for other sports betting activities.

Will Florida legalize any kind of online gambling this year?

No. Florida has actually taken steps backward in terms of legalizing online gambling. The state is continuing to target Internet gambling sweepstakes cafés and the current governor is markedly anti-online gambling. It’s unlikely that things will change until there’s a demographic shift in both voting populations and state leadership.

Can I play games at Chumba Casino in Florida?

Yes. Chumba Casino uses a sweepstakes model for its casino games, so it’s totally legal to play online.

Can I play games at Global Poker in Florida?

Yes. Since Global Poker also operates with a sweepstakes model, you’re not breaking any laws by participating.

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