The United States has seen several changes when it comes to gambling, in particular, online gambling. Today, the United States Department of Justice enables gambling and online gambling to be regulated at the state level and believe it or not states other than Nevada and New Jersey have taken advantage of their ability to allow gambling.
In 2006, The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act deemed it illegal for banks to process wire transfers related to online gaming if they are unlawful under both federal and state laws related to online gaming. However, due to this key detail and others within the bill many online casinos are made available to players throughout the United States due to their operations being hosted offshore.
Furthermore, in order for an online casino operator to start in the United States, they need to acquire a license from the state. As of today, Florida’s online gambling market is unregulated. Therefore, the market is loose, to say the least.
Below we’ll discuss major events that have occurred over the years in Florida and what the current state of online gambling looks like today.
Presently, there is no mentioning of online gambling in any Florida gambling laws. Meaning it is legal to participate in online gambling in the state of Florida. As you can imagine this is subject to controversy due to the gray area online gaming operates in. To better understand that current state of regulation let’s take a look at key events throughout history.
In 1932, the state first legalized pari-mutuel gambling to help stimulate the struggling state economy during the 30’s. But by the end of the decade slots were first legalized and then outlawed and no longer available in the state of Florida.
By 1979, The Seminole Native American tribe built their first bingo hall on their reservation and attained almost instant success. There was a major legal backlash to attempt to shut it down but to this day Native American casinos still operate in Florida.
In 2004, Miami-Dade and Broward counties legalized slot machines and this not only helped the Native American establishments but spurred further growth and new casino properties in and around Miami.
Six years later in 2010, state law was passed to allow no-limit poker to be played in casinos and gambling in the state started to become even more popular.
By 2013, a key piece of legislation passed pertaining to online casinos and gaming as Internet cafes were banned from allowing online gambling. At the time Internet cafes were important to online gaming as they were operating as fronts for gaming. But even more important the bill was written so broadly that many in the press, various lawyers and officials maintain that the bill states any networked machine or device used for gambling could violate the law and subject to charges for a second-degree misdemeanor. Therefore, an argument can be made that computers at public libraries could be liable for misuse and even personal property such as desktops, smartphones, etc. are classified as network devices when connected to the Internet.
Since the law in 2013 was enacted over 1,000 Internet cafes in Florida have closed or been shut down due to violations. But despite the aforementioned wording and gray area, there are still online casinos (mainly offshore) willing to accept players from Florida and many residents who actively gamble online.
There is no known case in Florida where a resident has been charged with a crime related participating in online gambling, including online poker. It can most likely be attributed to the discrepancy pertaining to the definition of devices, but also it can be argued that the state has more important matters to pursue. Seeking out players who wager on online blackjack games doesn’t seem like the number one priority for law enforcement officials in Florida.
If land-based casinos aren’t your preference or easily accessible and/or you prefer to play online as a resident of Florida, you are most likely going to remain in the clear. It is recommended that you be mindful of further legislative developments if and when they occur. However, if history is any indication the state government in Florida doesn’t seem too concerned with online gamblers. You should perhaps shift your focus to ensuring you are utilizing a trustworthy offshore casino and not risking your money by gaming on unregulated sites.
Until there is a clear path in place for online casino operators to obtain a license from the state residents of Florida who wish to operate an online casino are subject to charges related to illegal gambling operations.
If you play online in Florida chances are you are playing on a casino powered by Real Time Gaming (RTG) as they are well-known for their presence in the American online gaming market.
It is recommended that you check out Bovada, BetOnline or Slots.lv as these are generally regarded as trustworthy offshore online casinos and are currently accepting players based in Florida. Other viable online casino options include Lucky Red Casino, Club World Casino, Las Vegas USA Casino, Manhattan Slots, Aladdin’s Gold Casino and High Noon Casino.
Much like offshore casinos, Florida does not have any legislation in place that prohibits its residents from accessing offshore sportsbooks. Thus, as a Florida resident, you will not be legally punished for participating in sports betting through offshore sites. It is recommended to check out the sportsbooks on Bovada, BetOnline, Sportsbetting.ag, and 5Dimes Sportsbook.
In 2011, state representative Joseph Abruzzo introduced a bill that would regulate online poker games and websites throughout the state. Per the bill and Abruzzo, Florida was poised to receive 10% of all revenue generated via online poker. Unfortunately, the bill was never passed in 2011 as it died in the Senate Criminal Justice Committee.
But Abruzzo would later try again in 2012. This time The Seminole Tribe voiced heavy resistance to the bill as they most likely feared it would compete with their interest in the gaming market, particularly due to their land-based casino presence, as they represent the largest Native American gambling interest in the state. Yet again Florida failed to pass official legislation to regulate online poker and as of today little has changed.
Again, just as the technicalities and vagueness apply to online gambling, in general, the same rules apply to online poker. Since no prosecution has occurred and no legal precedent has been set Florida residents can, in fact, register and partake on US-facing poker websites.
Sites such as Lock Poker, Carbon Poker, Bovada, Sportsbetting.ag, and BetOnline all attract and accept online poker players from Florida.
It is strongly recommended to be mindful of the sites you choose to sign up for and play on as a Florida resident, or US-resident in general for that matter. Make sure you research and ensure the site is not going to compromise your money.
Regarding any legal implications, as the evidence suggests it is clear that the state of Florida is not concerned with residents gambling online, playing online poker, or wagering on sports online. Especially if the sites adhere to the law, are based offshore, and are able to accept US-based players.
It seems widely accepted that there is no major concern with residents who choose to participate in online gambling and therefore it can be said with confidence that until further regulation is introduced or current law is put to the test you can play with confidence.