The Current State of Gambling in Florida in July 2023

By  //  July 13, 2023

Florida’s short-lived 2022 sojourn into legal online sports betting is over at present, but could it return soon? A recent ruling by the DC Circuit Court of Appeals provides a wave of optimism about the imminent reintroduction of online sports betting in the Sunshine State.

It won’t likely be in July, though, so where does this leave Floridian bettors in the current month?

Online Sports Betting in Florida

Online sports betting in Florida was legal for only five weeks. A validity challenge resulted in a federal judge ruling that the Florida-Seminole Gaming compact violated the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. Online sports bettors were again barred from pursuing their favorite pastimes.

Then, on Friday, 27 June, a panel of three judges passed a ruling. The Department of Interior had to reinstate the Florida-Seminole Gaming compact.

What does this mean for Florida’s online sports gamblers, though? With litigation ongoing since last year, those in the know expect an appeal against the current ruling by the DC Circuit Court of Appeals. This would mean further litigation and a potential United States Supreme Court appearance. Should this happen, it would bring with it a final decision on the subject.

If, indeed, an appeal does happen, the quick resumption of online sports betting in Florida is questionable.

What Legal Gambling Alternatives Do Floridian Bettors Currently Have?

In the Sunshine State, the Florida Gaming Control Commission (FGCC) allows the following gambling alternatives to online betting:

Sweepstakes Casinos

Sweepstakes casinos, like those found in Techopedia, are accessible in Florida as they don’t use real money. These legal gambling sites allow patrons to enjoy gameplay on premium slots, among others, for free just by signing up. There are hundreds of game options to choose from and bonuses of Sweepstakes Coins can be used to play for real money.

Licensed Retail Casinos

You can legally play slots and table games at brick-and-mortar casinos on certain tribal lands within Florida. The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988 means tribes can offer gambling in the state if they first secure compacts with the state. The Seminole tribe owns six legal casinos in Florida, and the Miccosukee tribe owns the other.

Coconut Creek, Hollywood, Miami, Tampa, Immokalee, and Okeechobee are the homes of these casinos.

Pari-mutuel & Jai Alai Betting

Floridians can legally partake in off-track betting and simulcasting at racetracks. Former greyhound tracks also offer pari-mutuel gambling. Jai Alai sports betting is also legal at these venues for bettors of 18 and older.

Pari-mutuel wagering is also known as pool betting. All bets of a specific type get placed together in a pool. Venues calculate the payout after the deduction of taxes and the house percentage. All the punters with winning bets equally share the remaining money among themselves. Pari-mutuel betting is common in greyhound and horse racing fraternities. However, greyhound racing is no longer legal in Florida after voters approved a 2018 amendment banning all forms of dog racing.

Jai Alai sports wagering is much the same as betting on horse racing. Using a round-robin system, gamblers choose a player or team to win, place, or show, with combined Jai Alai perfecta and quinella bets also options. A new Jai Alai variation now eliminates the round-robin rule. Punters instead compete against each other in singles and doubles matches.

The Florida Lottery

Active since 1988, the Florida Lottery benefits Floridian schools and students all over. It contributes around 6% of Florida’s entire education budget. 

As the main prize winner of this premier game, you can choose to receive an annuity payment over 30 months or a smaller, one-time cash payout. Winning Mega-Millions® payouts usually result in hundreds of million-dollar windfalls.

Offshore Sports Betting Sites

There is no Florida state law prohibiting online sports betting through offshore bookmakers. The only stipulation is they operate in a jurisdiction where the gambling form is legal. Florida remains respectful of its citizens’ personal choices and liberties. As such, unlike some others, the state respects a gambler’s right to bet offshore.

Licensed Cardrooms

Cardrooms are legal in Florida as there are no house takings, with gamblers competing entirely against each other. In 2003, Florida’s legislature authorized the legal existence of these rooms. The FGCC regulates all licensed cardrooms in Florida.

You can play dominoes and poker for money within these venues. Playing them elsewhere for high stakes is illegal for Floridians, however. Poker, dominoes, and other penny-ante games are legal outside cardrooms in Florida. The legal proviso is that the winning pot in any single game cannot exceed $10. 

Other permitted penny-ante games include bridge, hearts, rummy, canasta, pinochle, and mahjong.

The Florida Gaming Control Commission

The Florida Gaming Control Commission is a body of five members that regulates all gambling in the Sunshine State. The only exception is the Florida State Lottery. The FGCC has executive powers relating to all gambling. 

Gambling forms include slot facilities, pari-mutuel wagering, cardrooms, and any other types of gambling authorized by the State Constitution. It also oversees all gambling compacts. The FGCC encourages all gambling-related queries within Florida.

Final Thoughts

The recent DC Court of Appeals ruling could still see online sports betting in Florida up and running within the next month. The case’s history suggests it may still be a while before sports bettors can use this gambling method in the state again, though.

In the meantime, there are still ample enjoyable methods of gambling in the Sunshine State. Regulations may be strict and well-enforced, but they do allow some leeway for bettors to ply their trade.