Armed with more than their fair share of sports teams, Florida offers mostly flexible gambling laws. And sports bettors may have the large population of retirees to thank for that versatility. Since there are so many elder folks in The Sunshine State, the demand for table wagering and slots is pretty steep. With that call for options comes extra casinos, which has forced state legislation to address more specific areas of gambling and betting in general than most other provinces.
Florida Sports Betting Law
Florida’s laws on sports betting are pretty straightforward. The state monitors everything, and horse racing is among the most offered former of sports gambling. You won’t catch standalone sportsbooks up and down the coast, nor do their tribal casinos specialize in sports gambling, but there’s nothing that strictly prevents you from placing wagers online.
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Tribal Casinos Remain the Most Popular
Florida has eight tribal casinos up and running to date, which should come as no surprise. States tend to favor these establishments before anything else, so they were popping up long before commercially owned places were able to put their hand in the gambling pie.
Commercially Operated Casinos Are, However, Becoming a Thing
Back in 2005, Florida approved the introduction of non-tribal casinos to their state landscape. Since then, over the past decade-plus, four “pari-mutuel facilities” have opened across various counties. These casinos won’t feature personnel-manned tables, but there will be slots, poker and bingo and other forms of electronic gambling. Contrary to other states as well as tribal-owned casinos, these electronic havens are not permitted to serve alcohol to gamblers free of charge. They’re more reliant on those sales to turn a profit, since they typically don’t receive as many tax breaks.
Stricter Policies on Social Gambling
Social gambling is difficult to monitor in every state, and Florida is no different. But they have more rules in place, including a ban on excessively large gaming events. Household poker games must adhere to penny-style antes, and there are fines and penalties levied against people and organizations that run unapproved bingo nights. They also tend to come down hard on anyone found to be partaking in illegal bookmaking.
Because so much of Florida is surrounded by water, cruise lines have taken advantage of the opportunity to sell gambling-heavy trips. The thinking is as follows:
Companies take passengers out to international waters, where Florida’s laws against betting no longer apply, and then these, we’ll call them, vacationers are able to indulge in everything from slots and poker, to table roulette and craps. It’s a nice workaround the non-tribal-owned casino laws and often readily accessible to those who live in the state. There are sometimes even discounts, coupons and vouchers given out to Florida residents as a means of enticing them.
Florida Gambling Law Overview
Please see below for a more specific breakdown of what betting types are and aren’t allowed in Florida at this time.
- Casino Gambling: Legal
- Tribal Gambling: Legal
- Poker: Legal
- Horse-Race Betting: Legal
- Dog-Race Betting: Legal
- Lottery: Legal
- Daily Fantasy Betting: Not specified
- Social Gambling: Legal, but plenty of restrictions apply
- Charitable Gambling: Legal
- Online Gambling: Not specified
Florida Sports Teams
Miami Dolphins (NFL)
The Miami Dolphins are the toast of Florida’s NFL interests, largely thanks to those Dan Marino-quarterbacked squads and the title-winning teams of the 1970s. Most recently, though, they’ve fallen into a well of mediocrity, securing just two playoff berths since the 2001 season.
Miami Heat (NBA)
No sports team in the state of Florida has been more successful in recent years than the Miami Heat. They’ve won two championships and enjoyed four NBA Finals appearances since 2011 alone, an accomplishment buoyed entirely by LeBron James’ four-season stay in South Beach. Now that he, along with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, are gone, things have quieted down, but team president Pat Riley has assembled enough talent to keep them in the playoff hunt for years to come. It’s getting back to the championship level that figures to be a problem in the immediate future.
Florida Gators (College Football)
The Florida Gators’ college football team is perhaps the most popular sporting unit in the entire state of Florida. Some thought they would trail off in relevance once head coach Urban Meyer left in 2010, but they have for the most part maintained their brand and general cachet. They’ve appeared in five bowl games over the last six years, winning four of them. The year they missed (2013), in fact, remains their lone failure since 1991.
Florida’s Biggest Sporting Event of the Year
The Florida Cup is among the United States’ biggest annual international soccer tournaments. It typically takes place for a two-to-three week span in January and includes a bunch of fan festivals and player-specific events, think along the lines of the skills competitions that headline All-Star weekends for the NBA, NFL, NHL and MLB. The entire showcase is usually broadcast to over 150 countries, and it features participants from numerous continents, hence its global popularity.