The history of brick and mortar casinos in Florida goes back to the years of the Great Depression. Today, America’s Sunshine State has nearly 150 casinos, spanning from the panhandle to the southernmost tip of the mainland, and everywhere in between. What was once known solely for its beautiful beaches and tourist attractions, Florida is quickly evolving into a mecca of gambling never before seen this far south of the Mason-Dixon line.
The following few sections will delve much deeper into the inner-workings of Florida’s many casinos.
Players looking to gamble on table games without having to sail out of Florida can use our list of recommended Florida online casinos for great online slots, blackjack, craps, and roulette options.
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Every casino in Florida, along with its associated Floridian city, is listed as follows:
Calder Casino & Race Course-Miami Gardens
Casino Miami Jai-Alai-Miami
Creek Entertainment Gretna-Gretna
Dania Jai-Alai-Dania Beach
Daytona Beach Kennel Club and Poker Room-Daytona Beach
Derby Lane-St. Petersburg
Ebro greyhound Track-Ebro
Flagler Dog Track and Magic City Casino-Miami
Fort Pierce Jai-Alai & Poker-Fort Pierce
Gulfstream Park Racing and Casino-Hallandale Beach
Hamilton Jai-Alai and Poker-Jasper
Hialeah Park Race Track-Hialeah
Jacksonville Kennel Club-Orange Park
Jefferson County Kennel Club-Monticello
Mardi Gras Casino-Hallandale Beach
Melbourne Greyhound Park-Melbourne
Miccosukee Resort and Gaming Center-Miami
Naples/Fort Meyers Greyhound Track-Bonita Springs
Ocala Poker & Jai-Alai-Ocala
Orange Park Kennel Club-Orange Park
Palm Beach Kennel Club-West Palm Beach
Pensacola Greyhound Track-Pensacola
Pompano Park-Pompano Beach
Sarasota Kennel Club-Sarasota
Seminole Casino Big Cyprus-Clewiston
Seminole Casino Immokalee-Immokalee
Seminole Coconut Creek Casino-Coconut Creek
Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Hollywood-Hollywood
Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Tampa-Tampa
Tampa Bay Downs-Tampa
Tampa Greyhound Track-Tampa
Victory Casino Cruises-Cape Canaveral
Much like in Connecticut, land-based gambling in The Sunshine State is pretty much all about the local tribal gambling establishments. You won’t find any commercial casinos or card rooms in The Sunshine State, but that shouldn’t stop you from enjoying your favorite slots and table games in a live casino environment.
Other than that, Florida offers pari-mutuel horse race betting and operates its own lottery. Online lottery ticket sales aren’t allowed and the bill that was supposed to introduce them died in the Senate Committee in 2014.
The state doesn’t have any regulated iGaming sites, so most of the local online gambling enthusiasts rely on offshore casinos, poker rooms and sportsbooks that accept US-based customers.
Casinos in Florida tend to fit neatly into 2 distinct categories, racinos and Native American casinos. Racinos dominate Florida’s casino offering, making up more than 3/4s of the total casinos in the state.
Florida currently bans the operation of casinos outside of Native-American reservations. In 1988, the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act was passed, granting class two gambling licenses to all Native-American tribes within the US. Since then, several popular casinos have been established in Florida, such as:
Both of the Hard Rock Hotel and Casinos are operated by the Seminole tribe and are the two largest gambling establishments in Florida. The Miccosukee tribe lacks the gambling compacts that the Seminole own, and as a result, are only allowed to operate class two games (slot machines and keno).
Players may gamble on card games such as Blackjack and poker, but traditional table games like Craps and Roulette are not permitted. To play the full range of table games, players must board a boat which sails out to international waters. Once outside of Florida’s jurisdiction, wagering on games of chance becomes legal. Popular ports for the cruises-to-nowhere include:
Racinos are, as you might have guessed, greyhound courses or horse tracks that are accompanied by gambling facilities such as slots, blackjack, and/or poker. Because every racino is different, some may only offer slot play while others will give off the look and feel of the casinos you would find in larger gambling destinations such as Atlantic City or Las Vegas.
The other predominant type of casino found in Florida are those owned and operated by Native American tribes. Casinos like Seminole Casino Hollywood are owned by a particular Native American tribe and are situated on their reservation. Because Indian reservations are treated as their own sovereign regions, the law of Florida which prevented casinos did not stop the Native Americans from constructing their own.
A lot of the Native American casinos in existence in Florida today are similar to the resort casinos you will find lining the Las Vegas strip. Equipped with a casino, hotel, spa, restaurants, shops, and other attractions, Native American casinos tend to blow the socks off of the racinos that make up a majority of Floridian gambling destinations.
The last type of Floridian casino is the casino cruise. On boats that are really nothing more than floating casinos, gamblers will be taken out to sea where the law of the land has no say in whether they gamble or not. For cruises on Florida’s west coast, gamblers will be taken 9 miles out into the Gulf of Mexico while cruises on Florida’s east coast need to only travel 3 miles out into the Atlantic Ocean. These cruise casinos have all the table games and slots you would expect to find at any casino, floating or otherwise.
Even though the US Supreme Court recently ruled in favor of sports betting legalization on a state-by-state basis, the chances of sports betting coming to Florida are low. The Native-American tribes currently hold gaming compacts with the state, which would be rendered void if sports gaming became legal.
In November 2018, the citizens of Florida will vote on amendment 3, which would modify the way gambling is defined in the state constitution. If passed, the general populace will gain the ability to build momentum on the legalization of sports gambling.
Even if everybody in the Sunshine State supported sports gambling today, it would take until 2020 before the needed legislation could be implemented.
Florida law does not differentiate between wagers made on electronic sports (eSports) and traditional sports. As a result, eSports gambling is currently illegal in the state.
Since 2015, Florida legislators have made several big pushes to legalize daily fantasy sports (DFS) gambling. The most recent attempt took the form of Senate Bill 840, which has yet to make it past the Conference Committee. One of the biggest challenges Florida faces with DFS gaming is whether to classify it as gambling. Legislators haven’t figured out a way to work around the explicit punishments defined in the Florida gambling laws on illegal gambling and bookmaking. Many hope that if voters successfully pass Amendment 3, they will then vote on an amendment legalizing DFS gambling.
Florida permits gambling on horse racing. Players may only place pari-mutuel wagers on thoroughbred races, quarter horse races, and harness races. These wagers can be made both off-track and inter-track.
Thoroughbred racing is the most popular form of horse racing in Florida, and the state boasts some of the best thoroughbred racing tracks in the country, namely:
Additional horse racing tracks can be found in:
Any race track with a greyhound permit may host dog races. Similarly to horse race gaming, pari-mutuel wagers can be made both off-track and inter-track.
In 2010, the $2 maximum poker bet rule was eradicated, clearing the path for most Native-American casinos to host serious live poker tables. Popular poker rooms in Florida include:
Social gambling is allowed as long as the poker game uses penny-ante style wagering that does not exceed $10. Poker games of this nature must be hosted in a private residence.
Florida currently runs an in-state lottery, which offers popular games such as:
The Sunshine State also allows a variety of multi-state lotteries, including:
Half of the prize is awarded to the lottery winner, 39% of the money pool goes to Florida in the form of state taxes, and the remaining amount is claimed by lottery operators. All lottery proceeds gathered by Florida go to the state public education fund, which is used primarily for the construction and maintenance of schools. Lottery prizes over $600 may be subject to garnishment if the winner is delinquent on their taxes or owes child support. Winners must claim their prize within 180 days or forfeit it.
Charitable organizations that qualify for exemption from federal income taxes may host charity gaming events. Any organization that runs an illegal bingo operation with jackpots over $250 is convicted of a first-degree misdemeanor.
The Seminole tribes opened a high-stakes bingo hall in 1979, which still operates today and offers large bingo prize pools. Several other popular bingo parlors exist in Florida, including:
The history of Florida casinos can be linked directly to the grip the Great Depression had on the United States during the early 1930s. In 1932, the state of Florida legalized pari-mutuel betting in a large part of the state as a way of driving up revenue during a time when revenues were mostly drying up. This move was quickly followed in 1935 by the legalization of slot machines, a law that would eventually be repealed in 1973.
1979 marked the first year in which Indian bingo halls were legalized, a move that would see many Floridian Indian tribes turn to gambling as a way of bringing in revenue. Even today, most casinos in Florida are owned and operated by a variety of different Native American tribes.
In the 1980s, many Floridians circumvented the lack of traditional brick and mortar casinos by hitching a cruise on the many gambling vessels dotting the state’s ports. These cruises served the sole purpose of taking passengers out to sea and allowing them to freely gamble before returning to port a few hours or days later. Cruises like this still exist today and are a fun, interesting way to gamble.
Despite the state of Florida having a large gambling presence by the 1970s, state voters shot down measures to legalize casino gambling in 1978, 1986, and again in 1994. Ten years after the 1994 gambling legalization bill was shot down, Florida voters finally said yes to the legalization of casinos. Today, Florida is ranked the state with the 4th largest casino offering in the United States. Casinos can be found in every region of the state and are being built with increasing frequency.
Before going to Florida and gambling, there are a few rules worth mentioning. For one, the gambling age changes depending on what type of gambling you would like to do.
-Due to the wording of Florida gaming law, betting on the result of a trial is treated as illegal.
-Illegal gambling outside of a tribal reservation is considered a second-degree misdemeanor, while any bookmaking is a third-degree felony.
-Florida residents may own and operate a slot machine within their home as long as the machine was manufactured 20+ years ago.
– If you are 18, playing poker is acceptable, but putting coins into a slot machine and pulling the reel is not.
– As is the case for almost all of the United States, Florida’s drinking age is 21.
– With regards to sports betting, it is not allowed in Florida casinos, though it is available, in abundance, on the many casino cruises offered all year long.