Florida’s Leisure Tastes Are Changing – and What’s the State Doing?

By  //  June 10, 2021

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Leisure habits and tastes change all the time. After all: it was only a few decades ago that Floridians were heading down to the pinball arcade every time they wanted to play a game. The arrival of successive waves of technological advances, as well as more complex factors like social and economic changes, put all that in doubt.

What’s changed?

Before looking at what has changed, it’s worth thinking about what’s remained the same. Florida’s climate and temperature will safeguard its status as an outdoors place for at least the next few decades – and beaches in places like Clearwater are likely to remain packed for the foreseeable future. And the ubiquitous American leisure activities which happen across the country, such as heading to games and going to the diner, are likely to continue for good.

It’s around the edges of these leisure activities that things are looking different. Studies show that while going to the movies remains a popular pastime, more and more people are choosing to stay at home and use sites like Netflix to get their fill of films either sometimes or all the time: across the US, there are now well over 75 million users of the site.

Why has it changed?

In part, it’s down to the Internet. From watching films in a Miami condo to ordering groceries for recreational, experimental cooking from the comfort of a Key West back porch, Floridians are making the most of what the web has to offer them in terms of convenience and choice. That will, for better or worse, pose a rival to in-person entertainment venues: after all, why bother traveling five miles to a cinema when the film you want to see is on at home? There are some benefits to doing that – but they don’t always outweigh the cons.

But the home as a place of entertainment has wider social, economic and even political sources as well. It was around the turn of the century that Robert Putnam first put this phenomenon into words with his famous book “Bowling Alone”: in that, he argued that the institutions which used to bring people together were no longer as present or powerful. Over the years, this shift away from in-person leisure has been attributed to everything from the television to the growth in suburbs and work travel – and it perhaps remains to be seen whether any of these explanations will ever be proven correct.

And can the state keep up?

At the moment, the jury is out on the question of whether or not the Floridian state government will be able to keep up with the changing leisure habits of the state’s residents. One of the areas in which this question is most pertinent is that of online gambling. As the games available on some of the country’s best gambling sites such as TopCasinoBonus.com shows, there’s significant demand to place a wager or two on casino sites.

In Florida, though, online gambling isn’t actually legal. Legislators are in the process of reforming some of the state’s gambling laws, but it’s looking unlikely that permissions for online gambling will make it through. This is down in part to a battle between the state and the Seminole Tribe of Florida.

While the state’s governor had managed to secure an arrangement with the Seminole Tribe that might have opened the door to online gambling, his colleagues in the local House of Representatives were not happy – and they moved swiftly to remove that provision from the piece that eventually made it through into the law.

So while it’s most likely the case that Floridians would love to gamble online if they could, they’re currently being barred from doing so legally by the state government. As well as offering more choice to gamers, it also holds the potential for significant revenue boosts to the state government’s accounts. It remains to be seen, then, whether any agreement can be reached to facilitate legalization in the future.

Overall, it’s pretty clear that Floridians are seeing some – but not all – of their leisure habits and patterns change at a fairly rapid pace. It’s unlikely that residents of the Sunshine State are going to give up their treasured beachside hang-outs any time soon, for example. But from movies to gambling and from recipe cooking to television, other sorts of leisure activity are changing quickly.