What the future looks like for casinos and sports betting in Florida?
The increasing revenue indicates that the future of lands based gambling is bright, especially judging by the expansion plans that some casinos are announcing (Hard Rock in Tampa). Online casinos and sports betting are not as easy to predict; sports betting, and whether or not Florida will legalize it, depends on the negotiation between the state and the tribes, whereas the status of online gambling remains unclear.
Best Casinos in Florida
There are 80 casinos in the state of Florida, 8 of which being operated by the tribes. In total, it is estimated that the state has more than 25,000 slots and other gaming machines, almost 800 gambling tables and offers a betting range of $0.01 to $1,000. The numbers above do not include the poker tables – around 800 live poker variants can be played in Florida, including Limit & No Limit Hold’em, Pot Limit Omaha, Omaha Hi-Lo, Double Hand, Five Card Draw, Texas Hold’em etc.
The casinos are divided into several categories: the tourist attraction and extremely popular Casino Boats that keep the post-Great Depression tradition alive, the Tribal Casinos, and pari-mutuels with gaming machines. Luxury Cruisers function as floating casinos, offering a plethora of games which can also be found in their land-based counterparts – Roulette, Blackjack, Craps, Slots, Video Poker, Pai Gow Poker, Bingo, Caribbean Stud, Big 6 Wheel and sports betting (allowed in this case since the boat is technically outside of Florida jurisdiction).
Tribal casinos are operated by two tribes, Seminole and Miccosukee, with the Seminoles operating 7 out of 8 casinos. After signing the agreement with the state government, the Seminoles were allowed to offer Class III games, the category which requires a state permit, although separating Class II from Class III games is not easy. Miccosukee is limiting their offer to Class II games only; if they would like to expand their offer and include Class III games to their repertoire, an ordinance that would authorize gambling activities would have to be passed and a legal treaty formed between the tribe and the state, which would then need to be approved by the Department of the Interior.
When it comes to Florida gambling industry and its contribution to the state annual revenue, the numbers are mind spinning. The Seminole casinos are bringing in stacks of cash – Hard Rock Casino in Tampa alone has generated close to a billion during their fiscal year in 2016. In June 2018, the 4% growth has been recorded; the gross revenue for 2017 came up to 32.4b, which is 3.9% higher than the revenue in the previous fiscal year.
Legal Aspects of sports betting and casinos in Florida
While things are pretty clear on brick and mortar casino fronts, online gambling remains somewhat of a grey area in the Gambling Laws of Florida. There is no regulatory body that deals specifically with this branch of gambling, placing its legality opened to interpretation – if it’s not strictly specified as illegal, it is most definitely legal, at least in the mind of those who find this type of reasoning suitable to their needs. Online Poker is one example of The Sunshine State gambling regulation ambivalence, or rather the confusion it causes. This particular activity is not so much illegal as it is restricted – so far, there have been no known arrests of people playing online poker, however, a lot of small venues that provided the service went out of business over the years.
In 2012, the state came down on Internet cafes like a tone of bricks, in their attempt to deal with illegal forms of gambling. By 2013, Florida was one of the 3 states that banned these venues, however, this does not mean to say that Internet cafés have closed their doors for good. The money involved was far too good for any entrepreneur to let it just slip away. Internet cafés have become less conspicuous and certain reinventions have taken place to ensure the survival of this particular form of gambling. The fact remains that until the government manages to find the way of resolving this ongoing issues, Internet cafés will simply continue changing their forms for as long as they can get away with it.
As far as sportsbook is concerned, Florida does not seem willing to join some of the other US states that have already embraced the chance of legalizing sports betting. According to some, these states have only regulated what was already practiced in the dark for years. Things are not so simple in Florida where legalization of sports betting can have a much stronger impact, costing the state roughly $250,000,000. This money is coming straight from the agreement (compact) made between the state and the Seminole tribe – in the event of the online gambling expansion, the compact can become void, leaving the state without a nice piece of revenue. Will the income from the sports betting be sufficient to compensate for the loss or will the government wait and see what directions their negotiations with the tribes will take before reaching a final decision, remains to be seen.
Until the state moves forwards, fans of commercial sports betting have no other option but to turn to online sites who provide the service outside of Florida’s legal reach, leaving this particular branch of gambling in an undefined area and seemingly under the radar.
Available Land-based Casino Games in Florida
Florida has a pretty wide gambling market, with the following forms of gambling allowed (some of them have already been mentioned earlier in the article):
Casino Games – land-based and cruise casinos are places to be if you enjoy a classic gaming offer. Games of chance and skills such as Roulette, Blackjack, Poker, slots and even a dog race betting platform can be found in these venues. There is a certain confusion when poker is concerned, which we hope to clarify here. Poker is fully legal and allowed in Florida, but only on actual, physical tables; the same cannot be said for the online version of the game, which comes with certain restrictions and falls under the above-mentioned grey area.
The state also permits pari-mutuel horse races, Florida Lottery, and bingo.
Florida Casino FAQ
Which is the largest land-based casino in Florida?
Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino is both the largest venue and the most profitable tribal-operated facility in the state. With over 4,000 slots, poker and keno machines as well as 154 tables, the casino has announced an expansion, adding more than 500 hotel rooms and a 15 story tower to the complex that’s already covering 140,000 sq ft of gaming space.
Are online casinos and sports betting legal in Florida?
Summing up what was already explained in the article, online casinos and sports betting are not legally regulated by the state, which does not make this form of gambling explicitly illegal, although it does create a confusion as to what activities are off limits. Internet cafés offering gambling services, on the other hand, are officially banned.
What are the legal repercussions of illegal gambling?
The penalty for organizing and participating in an illegal gambling activity is not much different from legal repercussions in other USA states and includes fines and imprisonment.
What is the legal age requirement for gambling in the state of Florida?
The minimum age requirement for pari-mutuel betting is 18. Poker and other machines require the players to be at least 21. In Seminole Hard Rock Casino, 21 is the age limit, while persons who are 18 will only be allowed to take place in Class II bingo and poker.