Florida Gambling Laws 2023: Unveiling the Truth & Legal Aspects

Florida, known as the Sunshine State, has a rich and dynamic history when it comes to gambling. Over the years, the state’s laws have adapted to changing social attitudes, advances in technology, and economic pressures, creating an intricate web of regulations. These are the biggest Florida gambling laws that have shaped the current landscape. From Native American gaming compacts to changing public opinion, these factors have interacted to make Florida a significant player in the national gambling scene.

Florida Gambling Laws

Florida Gambling Laws – Details

  • 🎰 Online Casinos: Online casinos are not legal in Florida, but the state has numerous social and sweepstakes casinos where people can play slots or poker for prizes instead of money.
  • 🚢 Cruise Gambling: Some casino-style gambling is available on day-cruise boats and Princess Cruises once in international waters.
  • 🏛️ Legislation: As of now, online gambling is not legalized in Florida and the state law is vague about internet gambling. The police actively pursue and shut down unauthorized gambling sites in the state.
  • 🎲Sweepstakes Casinos: Sweepstakes casinos in Florida allow players to win real cash prizes without actually gambling. Players purchase virtual currency for play, but it can’t be redeemed for real money.
  • 🎰 Slot Machines: Like online casinos, online slot play is not permitted by state law. However, social games like Chumba allow sweepstakes slots.
  • 🧾 Future Regulation: The Seminole Tribe of Florida, which owns and operates six casinos in the state, may become a major player if online gambling is legalized in Florida.
  • 🚫 Offshore Sites: Offshore gambling sites are not legal in Florida. Geolocation technology prevents reputable online casino companies from allowing players from outside the jurisdictions where they are regulated.
  • 🏇 Legal Gambling: Legal gambling in Florida includes horse racing, harness horse racing, jai alai games, and cardroom poker games.
  • 🎂 Gambling Age: Adults can play poker in Florida at 18, but all sports betting bills introduced would put the age limit at 21 and up.
  • 🏢 Land-Based Casinos: There are seven tribal-owned casinos in Florida, six of them owned by Seminole Gaming. 
  • 🚸 Responsible Gambling: The Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling serves as the designated authority under state contract on gambling addiction.
  • 📜 History of Gambling: Retail casino gambling, pari-mutuel horse racing, and the FL state lottery are currently the only legal forms of gambling in Florida.

The Evolution of Gambling Laws in Florida

Throughout history, Florida’s gambling laws have evolved to accommodate societal attitudes and economic demands. Initially, gambling was heavily restricted, but with time, certain forms of gambling gained legal recognition. One of the most significant milestones in Florida’s gambling landscape was the establishment of tribal gaming through the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act in 1988. This law paved the way for tribal casinos to operate on sovereign tribal lands.

In recent years, Florida has witnessed a wave of legislative initiatives aimed at expanding gambling opportunities. However, these efforts have been met with legal challenges and political debates. The outcome of these battles has a direct impact on the types of gambling activities available within the state.

Florida Lawmakers’ Stance on Gambling

Florida’s lawmakers have often been caught between the pressures of maintaining public morality and the economic benefits associated with regulated gambling. Political complexities have also shaped Florida’s gambling laws. The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988, for instance, granted federally recognized tribes the right to operate casinos on their lands. This federal law led to the negotiation of gaming compacts with tribes, most notably the Seminole Tribe, adding another layer to Florida’s gambling landscape.

Public Opinion on Gambling

Public opinion has played a significant role in shaping Florida’s gambling laws. Over the years, the perception of gambling has shifted, with some segments of the population embracing it as a form of entertainment, while others remain skeptical of its societal impact. Public sentiment often influences lawmakers’ decisions on gambling legislation, making it an essential factor in the ongoing debates surrounding the expansion or restriction of gambling activities.

Understanding the changing attitudes towards gambling is vital in comprehending the dynamics of Florida’s gambling landscape. Public education and engagement on the topic continue to shape the future of gambling laws in the state.

Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association

Horse Racing Betting

Pari-mutuel betting, as stated in the original article, is a legal form of gambling in Florida. An integral part of this scene is the Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association (FQHRA). The FQHRA advocates for and regulates quarter horse racing in the state, helping to maintain the sport’s integrity while promoting its growth. It works closely with the state authorities and follows stringent regulations to ensure that all racing activities are conducted fairly and responsibly.

Today, the state of Florida permits several forms of gambling under its laws. These include pari-mutuel betting, lotteries, bingo games for charity, and gambling in tribal casinos and cardrooms. Each form of gambling is regulated differently, reflecting the unique characteristics, histories, and perceived risks associated with each. Let’s delve into these forms of gambling. 

Pari-mutuel Betting

Pari-mutuel betting, a system where all bets of a certain type are pooled together, is legal in Florida. This includes betting on horse racing and jai alai, a fast-paced game originating from the Basque region of Spain. The state heavily regulates these forms of gambling.

Here’s a comparison of different types of pari-mutuel gambling and their associated laws:

Lottery and Bingo Games

The Florida Lottery is a widely participated form of gambling that significantly contributes to the state’s educational funding. Floridians and visitors alike can partake in various lottery games, including scratch-off tickets and number drawings. Bingo games and raffles, when held for charitable purposes, are also legal in the state.

The regulations for hosting bingo games include:

  • Only licensed charitable organizations can host bingo games.
  • The proceeds must directly benefit the organization’s stated purpose.
  • Participants must be at least 18 years old.
  • The prizes awarded cannot exceed the legal limit.

Cardroom and Casino Gambling

Florida allows cardrooms and tribal casinos to operate within certain legal conditions. Cardrooms, offering poker and other non-banking card games, are subject to state-set regulations. Meanwhile, tribal casinos, run by Native American tribes under federal law, have their own agreements with the state government. These agreements, known as compacts, detail the allowed forms of gambling and the revenue-sharing arrangements between the tribes and the state.

It is important to note that while tribal casinos can offer various casino games, such as slot machines and blackjack, commercial casinos are not legal in Florida outside of tribal lands.

Recent years have seen changes in Florida’s gambling laws that are stirring up controversy and shaping the future of gambling in the state.

The Seminole Tribe Compact

In 2021, a new gaming compact was signed between Florida and the Seminole Tribe. This compact gives the tribe the exclusive right to offer online sports betting in the state, sparking controversy and legal challenges.

Greyhound Racing Ban

In 2018, Florida passed a constitutional amendment banning greyhound racing, a controversial decision with significant ramifications for the gambling industry. The ban not only affected the future of greyhound racing but also impacted associated gambling activities, such as off-track betting.

Age Restrictions and Penalties

Gambling laws in Florida include age restrictions and penalties for illegal gambling.

  • Lotteries – 18
  • Pari-mutuel Betting – 18
  • Casinos – 21

Penalties for Illegal Gambling

Engaging in illegal gambling activities in Florida can lead to severe penalties. The consequences vary depending on the nature and scale of the offense. Examples of penalties for illegal gambling include:

  • Running unlicensed poker games: Fine and potential imprisonment.
  • Operating illegal slot machines: Seizure of machines, fines, and potential imprisonment.

Florida Gaming Control Commission

In 2021, the Florida Gaming Control Commission was established, playing a vital role in the management and regulation of gambling activities within the state. The commission is in charge of implementing and enforcing the gambling laws of Florida, managing licensing procedures, and supervising the conduct of various gambling activities. It ensures that all gambling operators adhere to the “laws of this state prohibiting” illegal practices, thereby maintaining a safe and fair gambling environment for Florida residents and visitors.

Florida Gaming Regulations And Statutory Requirements

In the scenic state of Florida, gaming plays a significant role in its economic and entertainment landscape. Over the years, both commercial and tribal gaming have evolved under different sets of regulations and oversight bodies. Delving deep into the legislative nuances, we explore the integral components of Florida’s gaming world: from regulatory bodies to taxation frameworks.

Regulatory Oversight

Commercial Gaming:
Florida’s commercial gaming segment is predominantly overseen by the Office of Slot Operations within the Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering. This body shoulders the responsibility for the day-to-day operations of slot facilities and ensuring that the game’s integrity remains untarnished.

Tribal Gaming:
The Seminole Tribe of Florida stands out as the only recognized tribe permitted to offer Class III gaming. Regulating their gaming activities is the Seminole Tribal Gaming Commission, which complies with tribal gaming ordinances, the compact, and the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA). Further oversight is provided by the Governor’s Office, particularly through the State Compliance Agency (SCA). This agency is designated to ensure that games align with compact provisions.


Commercial Gaming:
Within Miami-Dade and Broward counties, licensed pari-mutuel facilities, with a historical performance record from 2002 and 2003, can possess and operate slot machines. The annual fee for operating these machines is $2 million, plus an additional $250,000 for addiction prevention programs. Businesses associated with slots, like distributors, manufacturers, and management companies, require distinct occupational licenses.

Tribal Gaming:
The Seminole Tribe has an obligation to reimburse the state annually for regulatory oversight, capped at $250,000. Suppliers involved in the gaming ecosystem, whether for gaming devices or services, need tribal licensing, with the licensing process differing based on the nature of their contribution.

Taxation & Tribal Revenue Sharing

Commercial Gaming:
Commercial gaming entities in Florida are subjected to a 35% tax rate on slot machines. These taxes flow directly into the Educational Enhancement Trust Fund under the Department of Education.

Tribal Gaming:
The Seminole Tribe, under the gaming compact, commits to specific minimum payments from their revenues over certain periods, which contributes to the state’s financial reservoir. A portion of these contributions aids local governments affected by tribal gaming. Revenue allocation for the tribe is as per IGRA guidelines, ensuring community welfare, economic development, charity, and local agency funding.

Other Regulations

Commercial Gaming:
In the commercial gaming sphere, slot machines undergo rigorous testing by licensed labs and the Office of Slot Operations. Casinos need to adhere to anti-money laundering regulations, comply with state-sanctioned shipping requirements, and refrain from offering credit to patrons. Florida’s regulations also accommodate electronic payment systems for gaming, barring credit and debit cards, and exclude cryptocurrency as a legitimate payment medium.

Tribal Gaming:
While tribal gaming doesn’t have distinct testing regulations, it adheres to federal AML norms. Shipping of gambling equipment follows federal stipulations with clear labeling. In terms of credit, tribal casinos can offer lines starting from $500, and new establishments are mandated to provide non-smoking zones.

Sports Betting

Florida has yet to legalize sports betting. Current discussions and legal consultations are underway to determine the future of a gaming compact that could potentially authorize statewide sports betting.


Florida’s gambling laws have experienced significant changes over the years, shaping the state’s gambling landscape. Understanding the current legal framework is crucial for both residents and visitors who wish to engage in gambling activities responsibly. With ongoing legal developments and public debates, the future of gambling in Florida remains a topic of interest. By staying informed and following the applicable laws, individuals can enjoy the entertainment offered by legal gambling while respecting the regulations that govern it.



The Florida Gaming Control Commission, established in 2021, is responsible for implementing and enforcing the gambling laws of Florida. It manages licensing procedures and supervises various gambling activities to ensure fair and legal operations.

The Federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, passed in 1988, allowed federally recognized Native American tribes to run casinos on their lands. In Florida, this led to the Seminole Tribe operating casinos, significantly influencing the state's gambling landscape.

The Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association (FQHRA) regulates and advocates for quarter horse racing in Florida. They work closely with state authorities to ensure the sport's integrity and promote its growth.

In Florida, the Department of Legal Affairs has the authority to prosecute gambling-related crimes through its Office of Statewide Prosecution. If suspected illegal gambling activities are detected, the department can launch investigations and legal proceedings.

The legal age for participating in lottery and pari-mutuel betting activities, such as horse racing, is 18 in Florida. However, to gamble in casinos, individuals must be at least 21 years old.