Florida has always been one of the stricter states when it comes to gambling. Most forms of the activity are outlawed, but there are exceptions such as the Florida Lottery or horse racing, to name a few. With the rules being so tight and dependent on state government definitions, there could have been no comparison between Florida and Las Vegas. Until now, that is.
There is a real possibility that Florida will completely legalize sports betting in the near future, which would revolutionize the local gambling industry. However, the deal is not without its obstacles.
The Current Gambling Laws in Florida
As mentioned, there are a couple of kinds of gambling that are currently permitted in the state of Florida:
- Specific forms of pari-mutuel gambling, such as licensed card rooms and horse racing.
- Casinos on land belonging to either the Seminole Tribe or Miccosukee Tribe.
- State lottery.
- Charitable gambling, such as bingo and raffles.
- Some small social games.
Apart from these exemptions, gambling is heavily restricted in FL. For example, slot machines became illegal in July 2022, and are now only found in 15 approved casinos, including Miccosukee Casino and Resort in Miami and Hard Rock Tampa. The legal gambling age sits at 21 for casino games, but 18 for all other forms of gambling.
For Florida residents who want to partake in other forms of gambling, they must use offshore betting sites or travel to neighboring states where there are more relaxed laws on the practice. And for those who aren’t able to partake in these choices, all they can do is sit tight and wait for the laws to relax, which is set to be very soon.
What Does the New Gambling Ruling Involve?
Change is coming in Florida thanks to a deal between the state and the Seminole Tribe. The ruling would allow in-person sports betting, roulette, and craps in tribal casinos, as well as mobile sports betting anywhere in Florida.
If the Florida Supreme Court approves the launch, it could drive huge numbers of domestic and international tourists to the state. However, there are some doubts over whether or not the plan will come to fruition. Competitors of the Seminole tribal casinos are not happy, as the deal states that they would have a monopoly on the gambling industry for the next 30 years.
The deal between the Seminole Tribe and the state is uncertain as of yet due to various legal battles. For one, the West Flagler Associates, a group made up of pari-mutuels, has filed a motion to oppose the tribe. The motion, which is currently being weighed up by the Florida Supreme Court, is looking to suspend sports betting, although it is not yet confirmed whether this refers to both in-person and mobile betting, or just one or the other.
If FL wants to become the next Vegas and become known as a US gambling hotspot, they’ll need to clarify their rules on sports betting and other forms of gambling, so that visitors know what they’re allowed to do. Perhaps more important before this is to further legalize gambling, including online casinos and greyhound racing, for example.
FL and the Legalization of Online Casinos
Alongside sports betting, online casino games are also a type of gambling that FL citizens want to see legalized. At the moment, offshore casino gaming apps are the only option for those who want to play, but this could be set to change.
Only a handful of states have passed their own legislation and licensed online casinos within their borders. New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Connecticut, Michigan, and West Virginia are all on the list. New York, and a few other states, are looking to launch their own online casinos as well (source: https://www.business2community.com/gambling/best-online-casinos-real-money).
So, news that Florida is moving towards the legalization of sports betting and casino games like craps and roulette gives hope that online casinos will be next. They’re incredibly popular all over the US and beyond, so it makes sense logistically and financially to see them become legal in Florida.
Allowing the use and licensing of online casinos in FL could bring in much more revenue than only sports betting would, due in part to the fact that casino apps can be used anywhere and do not require residents to travel to a casino. As gambling law expert Daniel Wallach stated, “Florida is such a large state” that legalizing sports betting on tribal land is “only scratching the surface of its potential”.
For the time being, the legal status of sports betting and other forms of gambling in Florida is still dubious. Some forms are permitted, but others are still in the process of becoming legalized in the state. Due to this, it doesn’t seem like the Sunshine State will develop a Vegas reputation for itself anytime soon. If the new gambling ruling goes ahead though, it could definitely be on the cards for the future.